If it was a work, it's one of the best of all time.
CM Punk finally vented his bile-filled spleen on Monday Night Raw. After five years of his talent being utterly wasted, he told us last week that he's intending to leave WWE after Money in the Bank—and leave as WWE champion.
So far, so fair enough.
This week, he helped R-Truth put John Cena through a table, and then seemed to reach into my mind and the hive-brain of the snarkiest elements of the Internet wrestling community.
He told Cena that he likes him—well, more than he likes most of the other guys in the locker room—but he's tired of seeing him put over as "the best".
Punk criticised Vince McMahon for surrounding himself with yes-men, and then (to the obvious shock of the Vegas crowd) speculated that even when VKM dies, WWE will still be rubbish because his "idiotic daughter and doofus son-in-law" will be in charge.
There were shout-outs to other wrestling promotions—not that WWE is a WRESTLING promotion, of course - and other wrestlers ("Hey Colt Cabana, how ya doin'?") and those working behind the scenes.
It was all very un-WWE.
Like all Punk's promos, this shoot was brilliant because of its honesty. He is great in the ring. He is great on the mic. He's even fantastic at commentary. And one can well believe that he doesn't play the political game necessary to become beloved behind the scenes.
This was a promo that signalled disillusionment, dissatisfaction and disgust.
And the world went wild for it.
Jim Ross, Mick Foley, Tara, Cabana, Low-Ki, MVP, Maryse, Curt Hawkins, Steve Austin, Chris Jericho, Steve Blackman, Shawn Michaels and Daniel Bryan all took to Twitter to praise Punk's brilliance (they're just the ones I counted quickly—I'm sure there were more).
Sean Waltman's tweet was interesting: "No one knows what Punk is going to do except Punk(4 sure) maybe a few close friends, & I think Vince does. Or maybe not."
The official WWE Twitter accounts, though, were a little more circumspect, resulting in the "announcement" of Punk's suspension (and the later declaration that "WWE and CM Punk have reached an agreement that Punk will fulfill his non-televised live event obligations for the remainder of his contract, through July 17. Furthermore, both sides have mutually agreed not to disparage one another").
But like Punk says, "What are they going to do, fire me?"
So how much was scripted and how much was off-the-cuff? And was anyone expecting him to say what he said?
Obviously Punk was scripted to interfere in the main event so that Cena would lose, and he was scripted to take the mic.
What of his words? We know that Punk likes creative control over his promos. Chavo Guerrero (now no longer contractually bound by the WWE, remember) says most if not all of it was ad libbed. The bit where Punk broke the fourth wall? Astounding.
For what it's worth, I do think Punk will leave WWE after July 17. If he doesn't, he's opened himself up to the charge of hypocrisy, one particular word that he's always been very careful to avoid with regard to himself. Whether it's permanent or not, who can say? But I do think those feelings he expressed in one of the best promos of all time (yeah, I said it) are genuine.
Whether or not he'll get the belt is a different matter. Remember, Cena has to have the belt before WrestleMania next year to defend it against the Rock in the title match, so surely there's no way Punk is walking off into the sunset forever with the WWE championship...is there?