When CM Punk left WWE early this year, speculation was rampant.
Fans guessed that he was unhappy with the situation in WWE, that he was upset that he wasn’t headlining the organization and Daniel Bryan was — even though he didn’t deserve it, that he had a gripe about the pay situation, that the McMahon Family was burying because of his grievances…and so on and so forth.
As if intending to give some closure on the matter, Paul Heyman appeared on Chris Jericho’s podcast, “Talk is Jericho”, where he seemed to confirm that Punk was, indeed, “unhappy” in some degree and “had lost the passion” he had to go out and perform, claiming that his frustrations were keeping him from being “the best CM Punk he could be”.
This would seem to go hand-in-hand with the theory that Punk simply didn’t care about much after Wrestlemania 29 and was banished to a lousy feud with Paul Heyman and RybAxel. This, due to several reports that Punk was so badly banged up, he couldn’t really function or find the strength to continue on.
When it was revealed that Punk had walked away from WWE before the Royal Rumble this year, the reaction was mixed.
Yes, there were fans who, in a show of support (or rudely trolling — I can’t decide which), have been chanting his name at RAW and at Pay Per Views and who also believe that WWE did Punk wrong somehow.
The truth is this: CM Punk was the one who walked away and, if he wanted to come back, he would have been back already. It’s not like WWE is locking him out. I’m sure the fans and organization want him back.
The problem is that both are hard-headed and stubborn.
If Punk is that exhausted and hurt and he voluntarily walked to take a rest — and he looks happy in all those pictures of him at hockey games, charity events, and jogging with AJ through Chicago, then WWE is really the last place he looks like he’d rather be. A return would make it look like he caved to big, bad WWE.
It’s not like one could say “WWE probably begged for him to come back”. This company, this FAMILY, they don’t beg. The McMahons are way too stubborn and proud to let anyone see them bleed. They wouldn’t be the ones to approach anyone unless there was some velocity or angle that benefited them.
It’s very safe to say that Punk isn’t going to re-sign with the company. If he doesn’t appear on TV before or after Battleground, you’ll know for absolute sure. Though, I will say this: never say “never” when it comes to WWE.
We’ve been here before.
It’s probably a good bet that Punk would have been more receptive to stay if it weren’t for the fact that Daniel Bryan was finally getting pushed as the “big guy” again.
At the time Punk left, Bryan was bigger than Cena, bigger than Orton, bigger than the just-returned Batista, and, arguably, bigger than CM Punk who, by all media accounts, had been semi-reduced to a whining, sniveling, petulant kid who had taken his ball and gone home.
When Daniel Bryan won the title at Wrestlemania, there was a feeling that WWE had found its way again and that everything was clicking.
Then, the unthinkable happened.
First, it was the untimely death of Daniel Bryan’s father which ran juxtapose with his recent marriage to WWE Diva, Brie Bella.
Because of this, Bryan spent a great deal of time absent from WWE’s television product and would finally wrestle again against Kane at Extreme Rules.
Then, Bryan revealed that he needed neck surgery because of a compressed nerve root.
WWE waited until he could return but, as the weeks passed, it was clear that Bryan was not healing quick enough and that he wouldn’t for the foreseeable future.
Now, it’s been confirmed that Bryan needs surgery on his shoulder as well and that he’s going to be out an undetermined period of time. As our own Andrew Ravens speculated, possibly for the rest of the year or into early 2015.
The problem is that WWE doesn’t have a solid main event “face” to carry the company.
With CM Punk gone, there aren’t any real options…if Cena being booked to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship was any indication.
But let’s look at their alternatives:
- Dean Ambrose: He’s slowly starting to get over. I like him a lot better than Seth Rollins…but the fans aren’t particularly interested yet. He’s got pull except for being scrappy and tough. A little more work will do him good, obviously.
- Roman Reigns: Quite figuratively, “The Next Big Thing”. The fans love him…but if his past matches are any indication (or early reports about his match with Rusev on Smackdown are true), Reigns is just a big dude with about three moves and not much else.
- John Cena: As previously stated, he’s pretty much WWE. He’s usually what fans the media think of when they hear the name. He’s on every cereal box and drink cup. He can carry the company easy. So, the good news is that there’s John Cena. The bad news is that he’s John Cena. Cena’s won the thing 15 times (one short of Ric Flair) and the fans aren’t exactly enamored with him, though the hypocrisy of cheering for Hulk Hogan (somebody a hell of a lot more flat, boring and one-dimensional than Cena) when ever he appears in an arena still makes me scratch my head.
- Dolph Ziggler: He’s resilient, the fans adore him, he’s carried the title before. Ziggler just has so many things working against him, so take your pick: He’s “Shawn Michaels 2.0″, he’s injury-prone, he sells so well that WWE uses him to get others over instead, he’s got a big mouth, people aren’t sure if he’s a heel or face, marketing him is tough because WWE apparently thinks he comes across as the guy who drops a roofie in your drink at the club…
- Chris Jericho: Too old, is probably here temporarily while WWE shores up its roster…and I don’t even think Jericho wants to be champion right now.
- Rob Van Dam: See above. And, by the way, why IS Van Dam back in WWE anyway? Anybody?
- Sheamus: He’s John Cena. Only Irish and slightly more tolerable. Besides, he’s already got the mid-card nailed down.
- Cesaro: Cute idea but he’d have to go face and WWE has spent so long attempting to make people hate the guy and it would take a bit of time to make him likeable or give him that intensity that makes him look like he truly belongs with the belts.
So, for the first time, WWE really has no decent options.
They’d be smart to simply think long-term. Let Cena have the title, drop it to Brock or another legit heel and then have Bryan fight his way back up again when he gets back.
As Triple H would say: “Let’s see how this plays out.”