WWE Champion CM Punk could be just another run-of-the-mill bad guy in the WWE. But what separates him from the others isn't his in-ring ability, it's that he believes what he is doing is right.
He still thinks he's a face who's been wronged, disrespected. And his promos show why the best heels must think they are faces.
Similar to several other notorious heels, he is able to separate himself from his actions and place the blame on others. Whether he is in the ring blaming fans or berating Jerry Lawler, Punk believes he is beyond the consequences of his actions because he's still a good guy.
It's classic storytelling.
In an interview on Bloomberg Enterprise, Triple H described the WWE as good guys vs. bad guys. The most basic of storytelling, Cain and Abel, as he said. This is why wrestling is able to transcend different cultures and generations. We can all relate to good vs. evil.
But it’s not always that clear-cut. The most memorable heels in WWE history have always known this. Carolyn Kaufman on PsychologyToday.com states that people who commit evil acts have justified their actions to themselves. This way they can disengage themselves from the consequences of what they do.
When Hulk Hogan formed the nWo, he blamed the fans for his turning heel. He said despite the fact that he worked for charities and for children, he still received a cold reception.
Randy Savage justified attacking Hogan on Hogan having feelings for Miss Elizabeth. In his mind, he was protecting his honor. It was Hogan who had turned his back.
Larry Zbyszko turned his inability to step out of Bruno Sammartino's shadow into an excuse to attack his mentor.
In Punk's promos, he has no problem blaming the very people he has attacked. He's taken it a step further by blaming the WWE Universe for disrespecting him. It's their fault he's had to become more violent.
If he got the respect he deserved, then everything would be fine.
By taking this approach of redefining behavior, Punk has been able to become that rare heel who isn't just mean because they like being mean.
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