By Kelen “B Hyphen” Conley
As big of a CM Punk fan I’ve become in the past year, I can’t help but complain about him. But unlike last time, I see this complaint as no fault of his own (Unless he’s genuinely is pulling strings backstage to remain champ. Unlikely.) as this time, blame is placed squarely on the writers.
Why won’t WWE let Punk lose the title?
Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing my favorite wrestler with the belt. I felt the same way when I saw Randy Orton carrying the belt during his epic heel run from a few years back where he punted the whole McMahon-Helmsley family. I mean, who doesn’t want to cheer for a winner? There’s nothing like seeing your guy wearing the most prestigious belt in the company, especially when he’s a face.
Punk’s title reign stands at 215 days at this point. He won the title from Alberto Del Rio at Survivor Series in November 2011. At the pay-per-views since, he’s beaten Alberto Del Rio (again) and The Miz (twice), Dolph Ziggler (twice, and a few times on TV), Chris Jericho (three times!), Kofi Kingston, R-Truth, Daniel Bryan, and Kane following No Way Out on Sunday. That list alone is a collective who’s who of the WWE Universe and includes 2 future hall of famers in Jericho and Kane. There’s no arguments that can be made for lack of quality.
But realistically, Punk could have dropped the strap to Bryan at Over The Limit. The two put on a clinic for the ages that was clouded in a wee bit of controversy when Punk tapped out to the Yes Lock as the referee made a 3 count in his favor. For a man who lost his World Heavyweight Title in 18 seconds at WrestleMania XXVIII and then narrowly lost a 2-Out-Of-3 Falls rematch to Sheamus, Bryan was definitely due. You could easily put the belt back on Punk at No Way Out or even later in the summer at SummerSlam. Or maybe even later into the fall. The point would be that Punk would have a new motivation that could branch into other storylines and Bryan would have a belt to go with his newfound fan adoration despite his heel status.
Bryan getting over at WrestleMania was an amazing thing, especially since I got to witness it firsthand. Giving the fans a legitimate heel champion again would switch things up and not make the scripting so predictable. And unlike his first title run before WrestleMania, I think Bryan would flourish with the main title on his waist.
Of course, I would want Punk to beat him soundly for it at some point. But I am biased.
The best scenario that didn’t happen was the one where Punk dropped the strap at WrestleMania to Chris Jericho. After 2 straight PPV’s of near misses, it would’ve made perfect sense for Y2J to reclaim the belt and the moniker of “Best In The World”. Their match definitely would’ve stolen the show if not for the Triple H/Undertaker throwdown and I don’t think the fans would’ve been any less satisfied if Punk had submitted to the final Walls Of Jericho hold. You could’ve still proceeded with the plan for Y2J to make their feud personal by insulting everything Punk stands for and Jericho could’ve still retained the belt at Extreme Rules. Down the line, have Punk finally triumph and win back his WWE Title. At least you know he can be beaten at a PPV.
I don’t buy into the argument that long title reigns bring legitimacy to the championships. While I personally love the fact Punk has had the belt 200+ days, I can’t help but feel that if he was chasing the belt again, it would make for better storylines. Better storylines guarantee that I won’t get bored as I tend to do during the summer months. I wouldn’t even be angry if John Cena was back in the title picture again. Yeah I said it.
I came into wrestling on WCW. My second birth if you will (my first was during Hulkamania but that’s for another day). While I didn’t get fully into it or WWF/E until 1998, I hated the initial run of the nWo. Mostly because Hollywood Hogan never came up off the belt! I understand it was a hostile takeover angle and Hogan was on his second best run of his career (and as a heel at that) but I wanted to see the belt change hands. That was exciting to me and I still get hyped up when a title change occurs (poor Daniel Bryan, but I loved it. And 75% of the crowd at Sun Life Stadium felt the same way). While I never want a WWE belt to change hands the way WCW belts did towards the end, a little variety wouldn’t hurt at all.
At best, I feel a good face title run should be between 3 to 5 months and a heel title run should be either super short or anywhere between 6 to 10 months. You need an amazing heel to hold the title for more than that and you have to make his dethroning epic. Punk is in his 7th month of his reign with no signs of letting up. I’ve seen more than a few wrestling sites report that a title change was considered at several of the recent PPV’s but in the end, they went with the Second City Saint. I shouldn’t complain because Punk has put on amazing PPV matches since he’s become champion again but the possibilities that aren’t being used just bother me.
I’m not sure if this Punk/Bryan/Kane/AJ feud has run its course yet. With Money In the Bank looming, I expect some kind final showdown between those three and the crazy. AJ is really the most interesting part of this whole thing just to see who’s bandwagon she’ll jump on next. WWE really can’t justify another Triple Threat match but I’m sure a cage or stipulation will be brought in so that they can finally settle things. With Brock Lesnar/Triple H looking to be the main event at SummerSlam, where do you go next with Punk if he still has the title? You surely can’t have him wrestle Jericho a third time. Nor can you stick a returning Orton on him either (though I think that would be an awesome feud if Randy is allowed to be a heel again). The possibility of Cena reentering the title picture always hangs over the locker room but to do that would almost be like signing Punk’s title death certificate. And predictable.
So, I’m not complaining about Punk this time. Not one bit. He’s come along way since his pipebomb on June 27th last year. I just think we’d benefit from him losing the belt. Not to help the mid-carders and not to put someone else over. Just in the interest of telling the best stories possible.
Even the Best In The World can stumble every now and then.