Upon his return to the WWE in July 2011, CM Punk gradually turned face due to the massive amount of cheers he received at that year's WWE Money in the Bank pay-per-view in his hometown of Chicago. While his face run started out well, it quickly fizzled out in the eyes of many fans.
Personally, I rather enjoyed Punk's stint as a fan favorite, but I could definitely see why people weren't fond of it. The quality of his matches remained the same, but his promos and feuds became less and less intriguing as time passed.
A number of fans rejoiced once Punk attacked The Rock on Raw 1000 in July 2012, as it was at that very moment that the Voice of the Voiceless solidified his status as one of the most hated heels in all of WWE.
From that point forward, Punk adopted more of a compelling character and ignited feuds with the likes of John Cena, Big Show and Ryback over the WWE Championship. After holding the prestigious prize for an impressive 434 days, Punk dropped the WWE title to The Rock at this year's Royal Rumble event and failed to reclaim the belt the following month at Elimination Chamber.
Despite a strong showing against The Undertaker last Sunday at WrestleMania 29, Punk ultimately came up short on putting an end to the Deadman's storied streak on the grandest stage of them all. On the subsequent edition of Raw, Punk was shockingly absent from the flagship show for the first time in nearly two years.
With Punk advertised for tonight's highly anticipated edition of Raw, what does the future hold for the Straightedge Savior?
Many people see Punk being inserted back into the title picture in order to face Cena at next month's Extreme Rules pay-per-view, but I surely hope that doesn't come to fruition. We've seen Punk and Cena cross paths one too many times over the last few years, so it'd best if the two top stars are kept apart for the time being.
It'd also be a mistake if Punk went back to feuding with The Rock, as those two have nothing left to prove with one another. With Ryback now a heel and SmackDown stars Alberto Del Rio, Randy Orton and Sheamus currently involved in other storylines, what faces are left for Punk to feud with going into Extreme Rules?
Personally, I feel that the longest-reigning WWE champion of the modern era should be given time off from in-ring action for the foreseeable future. As previously noted, he's been on every episode of Raw since returning to the company in mid-2011, even while injured late last year.
According to a report from WrestleZone.com, Punk is still banged up from his match with Undertaker from WrestleMania and underwent X-rays and an MRI this past week. To avoid further damage being done to the knee, I think the safest route to take is for Punk to be removed from television for the new few months, thus missing next month's Extreme Rules event.
However, one question remains: In what logical way can Punk be written out of storylines for the time being?
On tonight's Raw, I hope to see Paul Heyman turn on Punk by ordering Brock Lesnar to attack him. Heyman can state that he's disappointed in Punk for losing so many marquee matches since the start of 2013.
Remember, Lesnar was also unsuccessful in defeating his opponent at WrestleMania, so he needs to regain his heat in some form or fashion sooner rather than later. A Punk vs. Lesnar feud has been rumored for quite some time now, and I believe this would be the perfect way to jump-start it.
Of course, this scenario means that Punk might have to turn face once again, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. As much as I've enjoyed his latest run as a heel, he also makes for a great face and receives some of the loudest pops in the company.
Unlike his last face run, he wouldn't be bland or be involved in stagnant storylines. If he's feuding with Heyman and Lesnar, you can expect for the promos to be nothing short of excellent and the matches to be must-see.
If there's any hope of an Orton heel turn, we would need to see another top heel, such as Punk, turn face first in order for that to happen. The Voice of the Voiceless is already getting cheers as it is, so it wouldn't be all that difficult for him to make the transition.
Punk is absolutely brilliant heel, so I wouldn't mind if this scenario didn't ultimately come to fruition tonight on Raw, but I still think it'd make for an intriguing angle.
Thanks for reading, Bleachers, and be sure to drop a comment below with your thoughts on my suggested scenario. As always, your criticism and overall feedback of my latest piece is welcomed and greatly appreciated.