CM Punk's WWE career has been turned upside down by what could only be described as a conspiracy theory. The Best in the World believes that he has become the center of attention for The Authority and that Triple H is secretly planning to destroy him.
And while the truth has yet to come out in regards to Punk's belief that he is being targeted, the fact is that the evidence is beginning to pile up. The biggest piece of that evidence thus far is the recent betrayal of Punk by The New Age Outlaws. And this betrayal is the one event that should ultimately lead to CM Punk versus Triple H.
The truth is that many fans are likely expecting this match to happen eventually, as the two men have always had some unfinished business.
That business goes back to 2011, when Punk dropped the pipebomb on Monday Night Raw and embarked on what came to be known as the Summer of Punk. The highlight of that run began with that promo and then directly led to Punk's win over John Cena at Money in the Bank for the WWE Championship.
That is the moment when Punk and the new corporate Triple H first crossed paths.
Hunter was portrayed as the babyface Chief Operating Officer, the guy who was trying to keep the peace when the company around him was in chaos. And at the root of that chaos was, of course, CM Punk. Punk was the smiling, sarcastic, yet lovable maverick who wanted nothing more than to make The Game's life a living nightmare.
Punk quickly became a thorn in Triple H's side for basically the entire summer of 2011. And the heat between them finally brought their match in the fall of that year at Night of Champions, a match that Triple H won.
Even though Punk's character saw a full face turn after that point, the fact is that the problems between he and Hunter were never truly resolved. The issue basically just died down, and soon it was all but forgotten.
Fast-forward three years later, however, and now we find a heel Triple H running WWE with an iron fist. And once again, the man thumbing his nose at the establishment is that thorn that just won't go away.
Now, Punk is firmly on the right side of the rivalry as he is in a position to perhaps put Triple H in his place. Truth be told, Punk is really the only man who can do this right now, as John Cena is busy with Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan is preoccupied with Bray Wyatt.
For many fans, Punk is by far the best choice to face Triple H when The Game decides to once again lace up the boots. The history is there, their role reversal versus three years ago is a factor, and for Punk's supporters, he just needs this win.
But in the meantime, it does appear as though The Game is throwing one obstacle after another in Punk's path.
And that brings the discussion back to Road Dogg and Billy Gunn. The New Age Outlaws made their return to TV on old school Raw, which aired on January 6. It was on that night that they came to the aid of Punk against The Shield and even returned on the following Friday Night SmackDown, when both teams squared off.
But it was on the very next Raw that the betrayal took place. In a rematch from SmackDown, The Outlaws joined with Punk against The Shield, but when he needed help the most, The Second City Saint was left on his own. Gunn and Road Dogg walked out and left Punk for the Hounds of Justice to maul and leave for dead.
For many fans, that was likely the moment that Punk's conspiracy theory finally found some validation. And the reason for that is very simple: The Outlaws owe their careers to Degeneration-X.
As WWE fans know, The New Age Outlaws joined DX in 1997 and were part of the group's biggest run during the Attitude Era. The faction was inseparable during that time and is widely considered by many to be the most popular in the history of the company.
So assuming that Triple H's character is indeed out to get CM Punk right now, who better to call on as weapons than his old running buddies in DX?
The Outlaws have now joined The Shield in their task of keeping Punk busy and distracted from The Game. It would quite frankly be a little difficult for Punk to get his hands on Triple H as he apparently has five foot soldiers standing in his way.
It's for this reason that Hunter's match against Punk is just inevitable. Road Dogg and Billy Gunn's betrayal must be the final act, the act of a man that is doing nothing but playing games with the one Superstar he has no interest in facing again.
The CM Punk fans know now is a far cry from the one who dropped the pipebomb in 2011. This Punk is battle-hardened, a man who has come back from tough losses to The Rock and The Undertaker. He held the WWE Championship for 434 days and later saw the credit for that title reign being taken by his former best friend, Paul Heyman.
He was decimated by Brock Lesnar, put to the test by Ryback and now is being physically dismantled by The Shield on a weekly basis. This CM Punk is not in the mood to play games with The Authority or anyone else that wants to try him.
The Game certainly knows this and likely wants nothing to do with facing Punk in the ring. Instead, he would rather move the chess pieces around and continue to keep Punk guessing. The New Age Outlaws are just the latest example of this strategy and right now it seems to be working.
But the time will come when CM Punk will put an end to the mind games. He will overcome Road Dogg and Billy Gunn and he will find a way to get to Triple H. And when he does, the return match that is three years in the making will finally happen.