I sat down not half hour ago to watch a replay of Raw. For the third week in a row, I have watched a full WWE show in order to see one man. A man who in the last month has become the "saviour" of wrestling for some fans and a mainstream publicity magnet for the WWE. The most impressive thing, it seems, is that he's only unleashed it now, a month before he leaves the company.
When the news first broke that CM Punk was planning to leave the WWE after his contract expired, I wasn't surprised. I honestly didn't and still wouldn't blame him. Not only because of the backstage stories of his poor treatment; from being buried in developmental, to his nickname as the "King of the Indies" (1).
Not only because it seems Punk has never been considered a member of the "Youth Movement", or as an established main eventer like Cena or Orton for sometime now. Leaving him essential in no man's land. Not only because Punk, a three time WWE world champion (four time if including the ECW world title), has been used for a while now to only advance Vince's home-grown talent.
But because he has never been truly valued as a WWE superstar. That was until now it seems.
While others like Chris Jericho and Batista left the WWE having been buried, Punk has used his last month in the WWE it seems to show Vince why and how he can draw money. He's taken the unlimited potential which guys like Paul Heyman and Steve Austin (3) have noted in him and used it to punch Vince right in his giant grapefruit's.
For some, Punk's promo from the 27th of June signified something they believed Nexus could have achieved: a change to what we have seen before. With fans comparing Punk's shoot to Austin's "3:16" speech, it's hard to deny Punk has now cemented himself as one of the best in the world.
Personally I got to agree with the guys at the Formerly Creative podcast that Punk has now made himself this generation's "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (4), but the point is that Punk has done something that may go down in wrestling history as one of the greatest shoot promos ever.
It may also prove to be one of the greatest promos that some seem to hope will create a new era in WWE. The problem is that unlike the Nexus, CM Punk will be gone, it seems, come MITB. It would be a pretty cool magic-trick if WWE could then make money and change history with a wrestler who's no longer in their company.
As the title suggests, CM Punk has Vince McMahon in a Anaconda Vice as it were. In one promo, Punk not only told a great story, sold PPV's, made WWE relevant to the mainstream press and all types of wrestling fans again.
Punk is holding wrestling history at ransom. If WWE want him back, they need to be willing to grovel to some extent and accept similar (but less ridiculous) demands, to those made during the live contract negations this past Monday night. That is if he hasn't already re-signed.
Would you blame CM Punk for staying with the WWE?
The two things that have me interested; 1) Where will this storyline will go? 2) Where does Punk go from here?
The guys from the Formerly Creative podcast have made bold predictions and suggestions about how they see things going creatively. Will/has Punk re-signed? Will he even win the WWE title? And will this begin a new, more realistic era in WWE. Or will Punk leave after MITB with no world title and like the Nexus storyline will be a wasted opportunity?
The possibilities have all of us on tenterhooks it seems. And while it's easy to be cynical and say they will screw it up as they always do, give the WWE some credit as a money-making machine. Punk has still made WWE money in this last month, but if he were to go elsewhere, what would that do for that company?
What interests me is that CM Punk has become a star and a big draw within the WWE with minimal added touches of Vince. Punk for the last year has taken a mile for every inch Vince has given. Punk has somewhat metaphorically slapped Vince in the face this last month by showing him what he may be missing and what he has misused the last few years.
If he re-signs with the big E, I wouldn't blame him if it's on his terms. But if not, he'll leave with his credibility in tact, his personal stock in the wrestling world high. The potential for both his future in the WWE or what he can bring to another wrestling company are endless it seems.
Punk is holding wrestling history to ransom.
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1. Youshoot with Maria Kanellis.
3. Paul Heyman's and Steve Austin's twitter accounts.