Punk at work in 2008
CM Punk. Current WWE Champion. Yeah, I know; Cena just won the title on Monday night over Rey Mysterio, but be real, folks: Punk is the real WWE Champion.
Lots of chatter has come up over Punk and his position in the company as of late. Throughout his five years on WWE TV, there is no doubt he is hotter now than he ever has been in his wrestling career.
But the question comes up—why? Why has it took him five years to mean something? Has it been his own doing? Has it been the infamous politics the dirtsheets love to report on so much? Or maybe, just maybe, is it because he is just not a top guy?
Let's start with the obvious conclusion most will take: Punk was held down by the Cenas, Ortons and Triple H's of the world. As much as I would love to go with that option, I just do not see it. It just seems like a cop out excuse to me that many disgruntled employees use. It just doesn't fly anymore. Maybe 20 years ago it did. Not anymore.
We have seen many breakout stars over the years, and every generation, new guys take over the top spot. Before Hogan, it was Bruno, after that it was Warrior, then Savage, then it was Bret Hart, then it was HBK, then it was Austin, then Rock, then HHH, then Cena/Batista, then Orton entered, and now, Miz/Del Rio/Sheamus and other are set to carry the load for the next decade or beyond...just the way the world of pro wrestling works!
Next option is that he is just too much of a loose cannon to represent the WWE. While this may tie into not being a straight up guy and toeing the company line at every corner, it certainly has hurt him. By Punk's own admission, he does not dress in suits and ties (rumor had it Punk's title reign was ended in 2009 when Taker told him to dress like a champion on the road, and Punk did not oblige). He does not drink, nor do drugs, something the industry has been come to embrace, whether anyone will admit it or not. He also will criticize people when he sees fit. Again, not exactly the "yes man" mentality most backstage are accustomed to. I am fine with being your own man and speaking your mind, but it is certainly a topic to discuss.
Finally, maybe Punk is just not that good? Did anyone ever think of that? Maybe he is just a midcarder and has too high of an opinion of himself? As good as his personality and in ring performances are, ratings have not moved the last few months (yet...). When he and Hardy were having the feud of the year in 2009 and he was the centerpiece of Smackdown, ratings hit an all-time low.
Now, I know. The show is a team effort, and all the blame can't go on his shoulders. True, but guess who took the blame? At the end of the day, someone had to take the bullet, and as great as he is, it is all about money, buyrates and ratings.
In conclusion, which is it? Why has he taken so long to create a name for himself? Five years and just now, he is being recognized as a top performer...why? Well, I hate to beat around the bust a little more, but it has to be Option D, all of the above. It is a combination of things, and while I am a big Punk fan, let's see where the next few months take us before proclaiming him the best ever and ushering in tons of praise he may or may not deserve...