CM Punk's biggest match this Sunday night
by Matt O'Brien - January 22, 2013
It started with a promo. His current character, that is. CM Punk had been headlined pay per views and been a world champion before, but it was the summer of 2011 when things really took off for him. After a promo that had people buzzing, he went into a feud with John Cena that led to one of the most anticipated pay per view matches in recent memory. It was all meant to build one pay per view. Instead, Punk gained momentum, and his success continued. He then headlined Summerslam with Cena, as well as Night of Champions with Triple H. The year ended with him standing tall as WWE Champion.
In what will be one of the biggest matches of 2013, The Rock is set to challenge him for the WWE Championship this Sunday at the Royal Rumble. Rock first talked about becoming WWE Champion the night after Wrestlemania and his interaction with Punk on the July 23rd Raw put these two on a collision course. There is a lot of hype around this match. Whenever Rock does wrestle, it is a big deal and the match gets a lot of hype. However, some of that hype comes from a portion of the wrestling audience calling for Punk to be dealt a better hand. This comes because the general assumption among many is that Punk will drop the title to Rock, even though it is not set in stone. When Punk and Rock face off at the Rumble, it may very well be the match where Punk finally drops the title after more than four hundred days as champion. For Punk, nothing could be bigger or better, but a segment of fans are crying foul. How dare this part-time Hollywood guy show up and beat their champion? This complaining is nothing new in wrestling. It isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. A segment of wrestling fans will always complain about handling of their favorites. Some wrestlers obtain a following of people who believe nothing is good enough for their guy. Looking at the success of CM Punk, one has to wonder if anything could ever please these people.
Rumors surfaced that CM Punk was leaving the company in 2011. A lot of his supports felt that maybe he was justified in leaving. These fans felt that Punk deserved better than the one he was given. Facebook, Twitter, wrestling columns and comment sections lit up with claims that Punk wasn’t being used right. What was so striking about their complaints was Punk had spent the first six months of 2011 feuding with John Cena, Randy Orton, Big Show and Rey Mysterio. It’s hard to imagine your year getting better than that, but it did for Punk. He defeated John Cena multiple times and ended the year as champion.
2012 only got better. Throughout the year Punk had a wide range of opponents. There was his feud with Johnny Ace, which led to a few matches with Dolph Ziggler. He defeated Chris Jericho at a few pay per views. In fact, the focus of most of Jericho’s 2012 run was to put over Punk. From there, Punk went into a program with Daniel Bryan. It was surprising he didn’t drop the belt to Bryan at all considering Bryan was probably the hottest character in wrestling at the time. After beating Bryan multiple times, as well as Kane, Punk went back into a feud with John Cena. The excitement around Punk’s character had not been as high since his run with Cena the previous summer. The big thousandth episode of Raw in July climaxed with Punk turning heel, and standing over the fallen Rock and Cena. After fending off Cena for a few months, Punk then ran into Ryback, and ended the big man’s winning streak at Hell in a Cell. Punk then turned around and did it again by going over both Cena and Ryback at Survivor Series.
As great as things were for Punk in 2011 and 2012, they are even bigger and better now. His current feud with The Rock, and their pending match at the Royal Rumble, has been building since July. It is going to be the biggest match Punk has ever wrestled. Yet the noise does not stop. Somehow this is below what Punk deserves. How can that be? Look at Punk’s run. The audience is reminded ad nauseum how many days he has been champion. He has held the title longer than anyone in decades. He has beaten all the top guys several times. He ended the winning streak of Ryback. Is there really anything else he can do? Sure, there are those that feel he should have been headlining pay per views all these months. But why? He is not the top guy.
Maybe that is the problem. He is not the top guy and these people want him to be. Let’s be honest, Punk can never be the top guy. There are two reasons why. The first is that he does not sell pay per views, merchandise or tickets like John Cena. He does not have the presence of John Cena. He is not as captivating or as interesting as John Cena. He is not as good as John Cena. The second reason is because the CM Punk character as we know it is not designed to be the top guy. Go back to that promo in 2011. Punk is designed as a contrast to John Cena. He is the anti-establishment. He cannot become the establishment. Punk will never be John Cena. He will never be The Rock. He is not supposed to be. If he was on that level, then his character would not be one that gets on a mic and complains about being held down. What Punk does is get his character over and the manner in which some fans become irate only show that they are being worked by his promos.
Should Punk’s reign end at Royal Rumble; is there anything better for him than that? He is one of a select few that is being put in the ring with The Rock. This is a big deal for Punk, and a loss here would not hurt him. It actually helps. If were to beat Rock, then there is no way any match at Wrestlemania could measure up for Punk as champion. This is his biggest match and the biggest name he has ever fought. After headlining with Rock, his character is going to be on fire. He can cut promos blaming the establishment for making him wrestle a Hollywood actor who wrestles in between movies, and how he will not tolerate the lack of respect. His target could be an authority figure or even the McMahon family. This could lead to a big match for him at Wrestlemania. It could be with Undertaker, Triple H or maybe a celebrity.
Make no mistake about it. CM Punk deserves all the success he’s had. He is very good at what he does. However, fans upset at his handling have to realize that there comes appoint when nothing more can be done to make someone bigger and better than they already are. If you are craving something more for CM Punk, then the problem no longer lies in WWE’s creative team, Vince McMahon or anyone backstage. The problem lies in unrealistic and unattainable expectations.
Matt O'Brien is the former writer of "Notes from the Nosebleeds" on Wrestleview.com.
Email Matt at: email@example.com