Influence of CM Punk on WWE
Contrary to what one might imagine while reading the title of this article, I won’t describe how CM Punk changed the landscape of the WWE or brought about the much needed paradigm shift three years ago, ending John Cena’s monopoly in the company. Although those sentiments are indeed true, CM Punk did much more than that, and that too in 2014 – A year in which he wrestled only for one month, and then quit the company! After the Royal Rumble, CM Punk, unhappy with the creative direction and being burnt out physically and mentally, told the chairman of the WWE that he has had enough, and was going home. Since then, CM Punk has avoided the WWE officials and the media, and hasn’t spoken about professional wrestling or the WWE!
So what has CM Punk done this year? What has been his influence on the company he walked away from? In hindsight, one would only think about the void of his star – power in the WWE, or the nixing of storylines he was supposed to be a part of. Ever since Punk walked out on the company, certain things have happened which shook the entire wrestling fraternity! Other than the fact that personalities like Steve Austin and Hulk Hogan appeared at WrestleMania, or The Ultimate Warrior returned to WWE TV, only to get inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, two of the biggest stories took place, which turned the wrestling business upside – down, and one can’t help but think that the departure of CM Punk had a lot to do with the events that unfolded.
First off, CM Punk, being a huge fan of The Ultimate Warrior, had requested the WWE management to let him induct the yesteryear’s superstar into the Hall of Fame. With the kind of “pull” Punk had backstage, one has to believe that he was penciled in to induct Warrior, something that changed after January. In the end, Linda McMahon inducted Warrior into the HoF, after which Warrior appeared on WWE RAW for the first time in nearly two decades! Sadly, The Ultimate Warrior passed away the day after he appeared on WWE TV.
The biggest news coming out of this year’s WrestleMania was The Undertaker’s undefeated streak coming to an end at the hands of Brock Lesnar. Now, reports have surfaced online that Vince McMahon made the call of Lesnar defeating The Undertaker merely hours before WrestleMania began, and ‘Taker, being a team player went ahead with it. Why would Vince take such a gamble merely hours before the big event? Although Brock’s credentials make him the best option for the WWE to pull the plug on ‘Taker’s streak, one can’t help but compare the irony of the entire situation. Let me elaborate – Brock Lesnar was handpicked by Paul Heyman, who backed him against all odds, and made him a sensation in the WWE.
A couple of years later, when Lesnar left WWE high and dry, Paul Heyman once again handpicked another superstar, backed him against the entire world, and made him one of the greatest WWE superstars of this generation. If you haven’t connected the dots yet, it was CM Punk. Before Lesnar faced the Deadman at WrestleMania 30, Punk faced ‘Taker at WrestleMania 29 – A match he was rumored to win. Although we can’t believe the “dirtsheets” or other rumors, CM Punk was the best option WWE had at that point. He had a record breaking run as the WWE champion, and had become the top guy in the company. WWE considered Punk being “the guy” to break the streak, but in the end, that didn’t happen. So did Punk’s walking out influence Vince McMahon to change the outcome of the WrestleMania 30 bout? You can’t deny the possibility of that being true.
The other major story coming out of WrestleMania 30 was Daniel Bryan’s victory, and finally becoming the face of the WWE. If rumors are to be believed, Bryan’s spot was originally given to Punk. If you remember, before Punk left, he challenged Triple H and Kane, and was originally inserted into a program with The Authority. Once Punk left, Daniel Bryan took his role, and finally defeated Triple H at WrestleMania, and went on to win the WWE World Heavyweight championship. Although Bryan deserved to win the title and headline WrestleMania, was he WWE’s first option? With the direction Punk – Authority feud was heading into, one has to believe that CM Punk was supposed to be in that position.
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon took turns to take shots at CM Punk during their promos heading into WrestleMania, and once again, the dirtsheets and rumors suggested that Triple H and Stephanie indirectly told Punk that he could’ve been in that situation instead of Daniel Bryan. Although in the end, it is all left to “ifs” and “buts”, but one cannot deny the possibility of CM Punk having a greater influence on WWE than what was initially imagined. If WWE indeed wanted to get back at Punk for walking out of the company, there can be no better way to do that than to show Punk what he could’ve been a part of.