With CM Punk out indefinitely, the IWC has been buzzing over the length of his absence and what creative might have in store for him once he returns. The former WWE Champion is taking time off to heal his hurting body, but his well-deserved break is not only meant to recharge his batteries, but also to allow the creative team to come up with fresh ideas about his character. The truth is, after 18 months at the top of the card, CM Punk has done it all. A match against The Undertaker at WrestleMania was the only appropriate follow-up to his historic 434-day title reign as WWE Champion, and now that the 29th edition of the Show of Shows is in the books, where does that leave The Second City Saint?
The issue with booking CM Punk is one of character progression. WWE’s main event scene is currently pretty low on star power and the Universe would not really care much about another match against John Cena. Even though it has been less than a year since Punk’s heel turn on the 1000th episode of Raw, I think it is time for The Voice of the Voiceless to have another babyface run. Why?
3. THE RETURN POP
WWE programming always dies down a notch in the months following WrestleMania. Part-timers disappear from TV and Raw is more or less filled with throwaway content (*cough* tug-of-war *cough*). This year the company is also deprived of the guy who has been carrying their programming for about two years now. Several months from now, when Punk’s body is healed up, people will be itching to see The Straight-Edge Superstar bring his pipebombs back to WWE. Drawing heel heat upon return has proved problematic even for the best villains in the business, such as Chris Jericho and Edge. That is why I think Punk should utilize the massive pop that awaits him when he does appear in front of the cameras again, rather than defy the natural crowd reaction.
2. A SHORTAGE OF MAIN EVENT BABYFACES
The main reason CM Punk turned heel in the first place was because the No. 1 babyface position would always be occupied by John Cena. While that is not about to change anytime soon, we have recently seen Ryback turn heel and let us not forget that Randy Orton’s turn can happen anytime now. Cena and Sheamus remain pretty much the only big babyface names on the roster, which makes Punk’s ability to get over as a fan-favorite that more valuable.
1. A PLETHORA OF UP-AND-COMING TALENT TO PUT OVER
This has to be the most important factor to consider when making decisions regarding Punk’s character. WWE is currently in a transitional period. It is getting more and more important to build new stars as the weeks go by, as the number of big names on the roster is shockingly low. The likes of Antonio Cesaro and Dolph Ziggler have finally been getting the pushes they deserve, but one has to ask, what will take them to the next level? What feud or storyline will turn them from promising up-and-comers to the leaders of the WWE locker room?
With Punk himself teasing retirement in 2015, the smart way to go would be to utilize him in a way that would put young talent over. The fact that most credible up-and-comers on the WWE roster are heels is a noteworthy phenomenon. In addition to Cesaro and Ziggler, the likes of Wade Barrett, Damien Sandow and Fandango, as well as Kassius Ohno, who is to be called up from NXT at any point now, greatly outnumber the young babyfaces who have made an impact as of late. It comes as no surprise, since it is usually much easier for newcomers to draw a negative crowd reaction than to make the fans love them. For the sake of their bright future, however, they need to be working with credible babyface talent.
What I feel would make for the most compelling TV would be a storyline involving CM Punk and The Shield. Even though The Hounds of Justice made their debut at Survivor Series by assisting Punk, the trio has also made it clear that they serve no one. Furthermore, no WWE star should feel safe from The Shield. With The Undertaker already on the list of the faction’s rivals, it would allow for compelling character progression for everyone involved and it would set the stage for the ultimate passing of the torch.