I’m not ashamed to admit I was sobbing into my blanket as Punk took the title and left the building – I tweeted at the time, “Crying and marking out and shouting at the television. I’m 31 and I know this is storylined.”
That’s the power of a good PPV, good writing and, of course, the power of Punk. The match itself, though terrific, was secondary. It was the storyline that was being conveyed that was important.
But it went wrong so soon afterwards.
It started off promisingly.
I loved the idea of the belt being kept close by Punk’s side (my sleep-deprived response to most questions directed at me that week was, “THE BELT IS IN HIS FRIDGE!”), travelling to ball games with him, out on the town with Colt Cabana, at indie shows.
I loved it when he broke into Triple H’s session at Comic Con to heckle.
Then the week after that, he was back on RAW, with his new (old) theme music, and effecting change from within. After all that. Couldn’t they at least have kept up this angle about the championship being stolen for a little longer? To whip up interest? To actually make us wonder who’s right – the bitter internet darling who’s walked out on the people who love him, or the tedious guys who go on about the importance of loyalty to the fans?
And apparently the answer was no.
But why? Punk said himself in a promo that I suspect wasn’t too far from the truth that the WWE hate making money – it could mean Vince and the powers-that-be having to take on other people’s ideas and admit that they are right.
If people love Punk when he’s criticising the WWE and yet he’s supposed to be a heel, then that has to be stopped as soon as possible. No more can he straddle that line marked “anti-hero” between face and heel – if he’s getting cheered, he has to be a smiling good guy, toeing the corporate line and sorting out his problems with his colleagues man to man.
Which dilutes the very essence of Punk. He’s not supposed to care about what anyone thinks of him. He’s not supposed to be pandering to the crowd and palling up with Cena and calling him affectionately “you big Boy Scout”. He’s supposed to be abusing people on Twitter as “sloppy drunk douches” and calling Stephanie McMahon an idiot and castigating people in the crowd as dum-dums and whores.
And then they wonder why they have to wheel out Vickie Guerrero and Michael Cole as cheap heat magnets – it’s because once their in-ring heels get popular then they turn them face, and what made them brilliant to begin with has gone. Perhaps forever.