The CM Punk rumor mill was spun when Dave Meltzer reported on Wrestling Observer Radio (via Daniel Pena of WrestlingInc.com) that the rebellious superstar would return to the March 3 edition of Monday Night Raw.
Part of the logic behind this rumor is that the event takes place in Punk’s home city of Chicago and that if he were to return before WrestleMania XXX then this would be the right time and the right place.
However, WWE itself telegraphed the comeback of the Second City Saint on last week’s Raw, before there was any substance to the notion that Punk would appear this Monday.
Without CM Punk, the WrestleMania card, as it began to form on the post-Elimination Chamber Raw, simply doesn’t work. He is an essential piece of the puzzle.
On last week’s show, officials had Batista shed his babyface image by addressing the chorus of boos that meet him every time he does anything inside the ring. On SmackDown, he basically went full heel during his segment and match with Dolph Ziggler.
That would ostensibly mean the main event of the biggest show in WWE history would be one heel facing another heel.
Fans have called WWE obnoxious and stubborn in recent months, mostly out of impatience to see a program play out, but even if the company is as relentlessly stubborn as fans claim, it's still far too smart to make a mistake that flagrant.
But in all likelihood, the main event of WrestleMania XXX will not be a one-on-one affair. Officials have all but announced, via F4WOnline (h/t Marc Middleton of WrestlingInc.com), that the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is to be contested in a Triple Threat Match.
The only problem is, last week, officials slotted Daniel Bryan and John Cena into WrestleMania programs with Triple H and Bray Wyatt. There are no babyfaces of a big enough stature to join the party.
Without Punk, officials have two options: Turn Randy Orton babyface or move Daniel Bryan to the title picture.
The first choice doesn’t work because fans will have the exact same problem with Orton as they do with Batista. They’ve seen Orton in the main event at WrestleMania; they’ve seen Orton win a world title 12 times.
But if officials move Bryan, who will face Triple H? The company has spent eight months building the tyrannical COO character, so it absolutely needs a payoff at WrestleMania.
Whether Punk returns to battle Triple H or to win the world titles is uncertain; officials likely haven’t made this decision yet, which probably is why The King of King’s is evading Bryan’s challenge.
But based off the way WWE began to mold the WrestleMania card last week, it’s almost a guarantee that CM Punk will be a part of the big show—because it won't work without him.