CM Punk has been WWE champion for over 280 days; a feat unheard of in this modern era of pro wrestling. What better way to certify your claim as Best in the World than to surpass the title reigns of WWE Legends? From Hulk Hogan to Shawn Michaels to Triple H to JBL and to John Cena, CM Punk currently reigns as the twelfth longest in the championship’s nearly 50-year-long existence. So why oh why is Punk looking for vindication from an announcer?
“CM Punk has turned his back on the WWE Universe,” said Jerry Lawler after Punk GTS’d The Rock at the conclusion of RAW’s 1000th episode. According to Punk, he didn’t turn his back on the WWE Universe, he was simply putting The Rock in his place who showed the WWE champion a gross lack of respect. But for Jerry Lawler to broadcast that CM Punk had turned his back on the WWE Universe painted the WWE Universe’s beloved champion as a bad guy. Clearly CM Punk is no bad guy, right?
The fine line between what is right and what is easy is being dangerously blurred by the Straight-Edge champion. Throughout this whole year, CM Punk has taken a backseat to John Cena, The Rock, Brock Lesnar, and The Big Show, even though as the WWE champion he should be closing out shows and main eventing pay-per-views. Punk did so out of respect, but respect is a two-way street and Punk is tired of waiting. As true radicals with a warped sense of right and wrong are prone to do, CM Punk is forcing the issue and demanding an outcome favorable to his beliefs.
The Monday Night RAW following SummerSlam, CM Punk demanded that RAW’s GM AJ Lee show the champion some respect by allowing him to pick his next opponent. Some say that CM Punk cannot beat John Cena–judging by how close Punk came to losing the championship to Cena on RAW 1000. Yet how quickly people have forgotten when CM Punk defeated John Cena for the WWE title at Money in the Bank last year and a month later retained it from Cena at SummerSlam? So just to prove that he is a fair champion Punk called out John Cena as his next opponent for Night of Champions “but alls John Cena has to do is admit that [CM Punk] is the Best in the World”.
Most WWE Superstars would kill to have an opportunity at the WWE championship. Hell, Jerry Lawler, who CM Punk mercilessly tapped out inside a steel cage in the main event of Monday Night RAW, has never been the WWE champion. And like Lawler, there are superstars who have gone their whole careers without ever being the world champion. Lesser men would have caved and told Punk that he is the Best in the World–whether out of respect or just out of a desire to become champion. However, having been WWE champion a record-setting 10-times, John Cena flat-out refused to stroke Punk’s ego.
It’s not that Cena doesn’t believe Punk is good–there’s a mutual respect held by both men–it’s that Cena has to believe in his heart of hearts that he is the best in the world. The promo that John Cena cut was one of his best in years because everyone should believe in themselves so that others can believe in them. That’s exactly how Chicago–and the majority of the WWE Universe and WWE locker room–felt about CM Punk in the summer of 2011.
But now CM Punk has turned from wrestler of the people with a snowball’s chance of defeating the “entertainment” poster-boy John Cena, to a man whose belief that possession of the WWE title equals out to respect. What happened to the guy who wrestled on his own terms? Who allowed his wrestling to do the talking?
WWE Inc. is what happened to CM Punk. After all the pipebombs, the hard-fought wrestling matches, the successful title defenses, the ability to draw the best out of his opponents, it just wasn’t enough. No matter how over CM Punk is, or how much merch Punk has sold, or how much prestige Punk has brought back to the WWE championship, WWE has never been fully behind CM Punk. Instead the WWE Board of Directors keep pumping in air-time and main-event slots to John Cena.
The reason CM Punk’s days as WWE champion are numbered (as this post is titled) is because he has lost focus. CM Punk was able to defeat Cena both times last year because he truly believed he was the better competitor. Nowadays, Punk’s more concerned over what others think that he’s lost sight of his own abilities. With fans constantly questioning why isn’t the champion main-eventing, and others pointing out that Cena gets more air-time, Punk’s pride is getting in the way. And as history has taught us, hubris is a deadly factor that always ends in failure.
John Cena is right, Night of Champions is in Cena’s hometown and if Punk can walk out as the WWE champion on that night, then Punk’s defining moment as the WWE champion would be realized. Can Punk let go of his pride, his incessant validation for respect, and resort back to what brought him to the dance in the first place?
That’s it for this post, feel free to subscribe to this blog if you like what you read and how it was written. If you love the writing so much and wish to propose a writing job, then you can submit all serious proposals at WrestlingTimesX@gmail.com. Follow me on the twitter @WrestlingTimesX.