After the latest episode of Monday Night Raw, it’s more apparent than ever that the WWE is aiming to turn its’ champion, CM Punk heel once more. Dustin takes a look at why the idea, while not without merit, is inopportune and what alternatives can be taken.
It’s been building for a few weeks now, the WWE seems to be taking every step possible to push its’ champion, CM Punk back towards the heel side after over 270 as one of the biggest fan favorites as champion.
It’s not a bad idea, Punk as a heel plays to almost all of his strengths both on the mic as a brash and cocky wrestler, but also his strengths in the ring which are his prowess and the brutality of his martial arts influenced style. The problem with pushing him as a heel comes in the timing, currently Punk’s face is on the cover of ‘WWE13,’ the upcoming installment in the WWE video game franchise and he currently is one of the top sellers on WWE’s shop website.
It all started with the 1000th episode of Raw, where Punk shocked the WWE universe by laying out the Rock as he tried to save John Cena. Besides being a shocking moment, it also inspired what could be the greatest meme the internet has ever seen.
The next week ,Punk defended his actions by arguing that the Rock, who had said he was to be given a title shot, didn’t deserve the opportunity after treating the WWE as a revolving door the last few years as he’s enjoyed more mainstream success. To most fans, this made sense and everything seemed to get back to normal.
Then started the “I don’t get enough respect” angle, with Punk declaring he as WWE champion was not appreciated like he should be, recalling the days of the Chris Jericho vs. Chyna feud regarding which one was better.
Last Monday on Raw, the show ended with Punk attacking announcer Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler as he demanded an apology from comments Lawler had made at Raw 1000 weeks ago after Punk’s attack on the Rock. The angle felt forced largely due to the fact that no one really remembered King’s comments and seemed like just a blatant effort to get Punk to the dark side.
The WWE is no stranger to making strong pushes like this, in the aforementioned Chris Jericho vs. Chyna feud, Jericho became the clear heel by tying Chyna to a chair and smashing her hands with a hammer. The Big Boss Man made an entire career of being a despicable heel to the extreme level by doing things like feeding Al Snow his dog Pepper and crashing Big Show’s father’s funeral. Clearly, if they wanted to go the heel route, they aren’t afraid to really push it to the extreme.
The problem is, the fans respect Punk too much to simply stop cheering him because the story calls for it, similar to the way they boo John Cena despite his status as company cornerstone.
It wasn’t until discussing this potential article with fellow HefferBrew editor Cameron Heffernan that the best possible route to appease all involved is to turn Punk into this era’s Bret ‘the Hitman’ Hart. As Cameron put it, Bret Hart simply demanded respect and won championships, something Punk can likely get used to. Hart enjoyed the best of both worlds, free to do what he wanted as if he were a heel, with the opportunities afforded to the most popular wrestlers.
Punk was even wearing some traditional Bret Hart colors during his Lawler attack and has taken to what seems like a baby version of the glorious Triple H mustache he wore during the “King of Kings” heel era.
Positioning Punk as a new ‘Hitman’ would allow him to continue dropping “pipe bombs” on the microphone about the company and toe the line like he has shown a deft ability at doing as he bounces between fan favorite and heel in a matter of minutes. The WWE doesn’t have to alienate the dedicated Punk fans by just making him a typical hero and can appease the younger fan base by having Punk float as a moral compass of sorts, correcting situations as he sees fit.
It’ll be interesting to see where CM Punk will go next, whether it’s to the extreme heel or the extreme face, honestly though, the people would prefer to see him just where he is. When you’re the ‘Best in the World,’ why change the formula?