In a fitting honor of sorts, WWE Champion CM Punk came home to a rambunctious Chicago crowd. Chanting his name before the program even began, the Second City paid homage to their favorite son in ways befitting royalty and heroes.
The cad Interim Raw GM John Laurinaitis attempted to "troll" the crowd (to good effect) by playing Punk's theme and sporting his shirt. Laurinaitis said that he was honoring the WWE Champion and that he to was an agent of change.
Cue the static.
Punk sauntered to the ring as only he could and exchanged words with the GM while playing to the crowd. Eventually, it was revealed Punk was have a Gauntlet match against Swagger, Ziggler and Henry. Punk's prize, if he defeated the three wrestlers, would be a match with Laurinaitis that same night.
As the match progressed, Punk defeated Swagger in impressive fashion. Ziggler distracted Punk while Swagger took out the "Second City Savior's" knee. Punk put up a strong fight against Ziggler and seemed on the verge of defeating the WWE's resident "Show Off" before the callous Laurinaitis added in distracting Punk.
Ziggler capitalized with his signature Zig Zag and pinned Punk for a three count. Ziggler earned a WWE Championship match for next Monday and even went so far as to steal Punk's title.
Oddly enough, Punk lost and Chicago didn't riot.
A few weeks ago, Punk and Ziggler absolutely stole the show in a 15-minute "top of the hour" match that told a lot of story and revealed that Punk and Ziggler possessed a lot of untapped chemistry.
While it wasn't perfect, the match was still one of the better outings in the second half of this year. Ziggler looked so good in the match that he didn't lose any credibility in taking a loss to the WWE Champion.
Ziggler put on solid showings with other top stars such as Randy Orton. His match with Zack Ryder was one of the best at TLC 2011, only to be superseded by an great main event.
Simply put, Dolph is earning his place as a top star and is using every avenue he can. While Ziggler has been earning praise from fans and backstage bookers alike, the match with Punk seems to have been the catalyst for his recent upshot.
Ziggler even spoke with the Miami Herald about it. His response about the match? To paraphrase, "We can do better."
Punk is a three-time WWE Champion this year and has little left to prove except that he can draw. Historical arguments aside, Punk needs an outlet and time to prove to the fans why they need to pay attention to him.
Simply put, a feud between Punk and Ziggler is the perfect call. Despite all the rumors of the "It Begins" vignettes and all the hype surrounding Cena's "dark-side" journey, the WWE needs this angle to succeed as much as the others.
All the angles and feuds in the WWE Universe lead up to one result: a match in the ring. For all the beautiful storytelling and drama involved in the building to a match, the payoff is that match.
If the match falls flat, the angle means nothing. The subpar reward makes all the work meaningless.
The WWE has a lot invested in Punk as a top-level face, and they need Ziggler to continue his journey back to the top of the pile. Punk and Ziggler must tear down the house next week. The two men are among the best in-ring technicians the WWE has to offer.
Next week needs to be a showcase of what wrestling is really about.
Let's be frank though, is there any doubt they will?
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