You would almost think this isn’t about the WWE Championship anymore, the way Chris Jericho demoralized WWE Champion CM Punk this past Monday on Raw SuperShow. Only 24 hours after Jericho failed to capture the supreme prize from The Second City Saint at WrestleMania XXVIII, the jilted challenger took his rivalry with the champion to a whole new level by dousing the notoriously straight edge Superstar with a bottle of booze after a loss to Mark Henry. Moments later, Jericho smashed a second bottle over Punk’s head, leaving him strewn in a heap of glass and liquor and unable to leave the ring area under his own power (WATCH).
Of course, mind games like this are nothing new in WWE, and certainly not new to Jericho in particular. Part of Jericho’s greatness as a competitor has always been his ability to get inside his opponents’ heads, to burrow into their psyche like a gnat and eat away at whatever confidence they have until they are simply incapable of handling him physically. In targeting Punk, Jericho has recently made a psychological power play to unman the WWE Champion by evoking the demons of his family’s past and suggesting that Punk is destined for similar hardships.
The mindset is as simple as it is dastardly: having failed to unravel Punk by disparaging his family, Jericho would instead target the thing closest to Punk’s heart – his own purity, and pride in the straight edge code he follows – in the hopes of breaking him down mentally.
And it seems to have worked. Jericho left Punk a shaking heap on the ground after smashing the bottle over his head; though whether this is from the actual impact or the mental shock of the attack (Punk spit out any liquor that entered his mouth, but it was a close call for sure) remains to be seen. An act like this goes beyond a competitive strategy, and veers troublingly into outright sabotage. Jericho wasn’t looking to get inside Punk’s head, he was looking to bring The Second City Saint’s entire world down by inundating him with alcohol. The fact that Punk was worn down from battling The World’s Strongest Man and unable to defend himself makes the attack seem even more cowardly in retrospect.
The irony in all of this is that Jericho proved himself a worthy challenger to The Second City Saint at WrestleMania, taking Punk to the limit in a heart-stopping contest with the two trading submission holds in the final minutes before Jericho finally tapped to the Anaconda Vise. (PHOTOS) Nobody could accuse Jericho of being weak in any fashion after that display, and it’s arguable that he emerged from the match looking like as dominant a competitor as Punk himself.
After this past Monday, though, it would appear that competition is the last thing on his mind.