"Rush" is a word I keep hearing today, at first I thought we were going to listen to Moving Pictures, but it turns out, it's just wrestling fans finding something to complain about mere hours after it happened. Shocking, I know.
Today's gripe is that CM Punk was brought back too quickly and his huge storyline, arguably the biggest thing WWE's done in years, is being rushed. Admittedly, things seem to be moving quickly and WWE certainly took a roundabout way to get to a CM Punk/John Cena rematch, but I think there's more than meets the eye here and I have no doubt Punk will make it work the next time he has a microphone in his hands.
John Cena vs. CM Punk is obviously the plan and that's clearly a SummerSlam main event. I wouldn't have minded Rey vs. Cena, but if the Punk story is WWE's current centerpiece, you don't do that on a B-show, it has SummerSlam written all over it.
But is the SummerSlam main event the endpoint? I have my doubts and I have two theories about what's really going on here:
1. CM Punk is about to become the elusive "next big thing."
I hesitate to compare him to anyone because he's better than that, but CM Punk is in a very similar position as Steve Austin was in 1997. Now, Austin was kept off a few shows because of his injury at SummerSlam, but WWE realized they had something huge on their hands and kept him on TV as much as they could. Sound familiar?
There are a lot of eerie similarities between the summer of 97 and today: there was a shake-up in the presented authority figures, commissioners and presidents were getting phased out in favor of Vince McMahon, now Vince and the Raw G?M are being phased out in favor of Triple H. A rebellious antihero managed to tap into the zeitgeist and connect with the mood of the audience, despite doing things that should've been taboo for a good guy; Stone Cold acted like a bad guy, CM Punk threatened to leave with the WWE Title, yet both men were cheered for these moves. And perhaps most importantly of all, something just felt different. In 1997, Steve Austin was very real in an environment of unbelievable, cartoonish heroes and villains. In 2011, CM Punk stands out among a cast of vanilla "that guys."
So has WWE found the guy they've been looking for since running with John Cena? You always should prepare for the future and could Punk be the guy that may not get a torch passed to him, but demands his chance to hold it? It's certainly possible, unless...
2. CM Punk is leaving WWE.
Wait, what? Didn't we just get over this?
The whole story seems to at least be an homage to the "Summer of Punk" in Ring of Honor, right? Punk signed with WWE, won the ROH Title, threatened to take it with him, but wound up staying for two more months? Didn't he also start using Living Colour's "Cult of Personality" then too? Well, who says that part of the story is over? What if Punk winning the title and leaving for eight days was just a red herring? What if Punk's real last match as WWE Champion is in August, just like his final match as ROH Champion? Perhaps then CM Punk takes that vacation and builds interest for a big return... or simply rides off into the sunset?
That's the beauty of this story, it can go in any direction because Punk will keep you guessing and we'll keep falling for it, because we want to be lied to. So while people are complaining that WWE is rushing this storyline, they may not realize that we're already in Act 3.