This is the story in the mind of the WWE Champion: CM Punk vs. The World, an underdog tale of a disrespected champion who fought and clawed and scratched to the mountaintop and was met with nothing but mild appreciation, if that. It’s a story of a slighted conqueror who has deferred to others and who, in his mind, has become little more than a straight-edge doormat waiting for someone — anyone — to acknowledge the magnitude of his accomplishments.
Because make no mistake, CM Punk has accomplished a great deal. WWE as we currently know it would not exist if not for that fateful “pipe bomb” in Las Vegas (WATCH) and the goodbye kiss to Mr. McMahon at Money in the Bank last summer (WATCH). Punk’s actions opened the door for underdog Superstars across the WWE roster and arguably led to the rise of such under-the-radar competitors as Daniel Bryan and Zack Ryder. Punk’s WWE Championship run is among the longest in WWE history.
It makes sense that such a competitor would draw hungry foes looking to knock him off his perch, but maybe — just maybe — The Second City Saint is looking for his enemies in the wrong places in this case. Maybe the only enemy here is Punk himself.
The fact is that Punk hasn’t encountered a whole lot of animosity since the “pipe bomb.” It’s only now, a year and change later, after he’s been denied the final match on eight straight pay-per-views, that foes appear to him from all sides. He, and only he, sees detractors and haters wherever he turns, and hasn’t hesitated to lash out — violently — against those he counted among his friends as recently as a few months ago (see: Lawler, Jerry).
Raw General Manager AJ Lee has labeled Bryan as the unstable one, but the statement seems to apply a little bit more to Punk nowadays. All it took were two passive-aggressive conversations with Eve and Big Show about how he was still second fiddle to the likes of John Cena, Triple H and Brock Lesnar before Punk snapped. The next week, he lashed out against The Rock at Raw 1,000 … in a match where The Great One was ostensibly trying to help him, no less. From then on, each of The Voice of the Voiceless’ sermons became less of a paean for change than a demand for vindication. Specifically, a verbal one wherein some Superstar of repute, be it Cena or Lawler, declared Punk as the rightful “Best in the World.” Both those men refused, and it was Lawler who paid the price, left in a heap when an irate Punk beat him into unconsciousness this past Monday on Raw (PHOTOS |VIDEO).
But consider this: Punk has defeated any and all challengers who have come his way for the supreme prize. The only time he lost the WWE Title — at SummerSlam 2011 — was when Alberto Del Rio cashed in his Money in the Bank contract on Punk, after Kevin Nash had flattened him with a Jackknife Powerbomb. Not so long ago, he retained the title against a Superstar who claimed that HE was, in fact, the “Best in the World” (PHOTOS: PUNK VS. JERICHO) Punk won the title, he won the bragging rights, he has won and won and won again, and the only person who thinks it’s not enough at this point is him.
He’ll have a chance to end it, though, and soon. Punk vs. Cena at Night of Champions is a made match. The “Best in the World” will get to go one-on-one against the man who he believes is overshadowing him as WWE’s alpha dog. He’ll likely even be the final match of the night. Maybe that will be enough. Maybe then, CM Punk will finally look in the mirror and see the supreme Superstar everyone else besides him seems to see. Maybe he’ll find his voice again.
Then again, maybe not.