CM Punk is headed for a showdown with longtime rival Chris Jericho at WWE Payback on Sunday, June 16. The match comes as a result of Jericho directly questioning Punk’s continued claims of being the “best in the world,” when he has not had a match since WrestleMania 29.
But where is Punk?
The fact is that we have yet to see the former WWE champion since all of this began, and truth be told I for one am beginning to question the logic of keeping him off of TV right now.
Don’t misunderstand me here: I actually believe it’s not the worst move that WWE could make with Punk. His absence does nothing but stir the pot and keep speculation going fairly heavily among fans who feel that Punk could perhaps no-show the event.
Can you imagine CM Punk staying backstage and leaving Jericho standing in the ring clueless as to what’s going on? Of course, we could see Paul Heyman on the ramp to give Jericho the news that, while Punk would not be wrestling, there was someone who was willing to step up to the plate.
Here comes the pain.
What if Brock Lesnar showed up at Payback in CM Punk’s place and then completely decimated Chris Jericho? This would get Brock back into WWE storylines again and would give Jericho even more ammunition against Punk, whom he feels is scared to face him in the ring.
Or perhaps Heyman’s newest client, Curtis Axel, could replace Punk against Jericho. Axel is already competing once that night, in a triple-threat match for the intercontinental championship against Wade Barrett and The Miz.
Axel could become the new intercontinental champion and pin Chris Jericho in the same night. That would give Curtis even more bragging rights, with Heyman touting the fact that his newest protégé had multiple victories over John Cena, Triple H and now Chris Jericho.
Axel’s rise in WWE would continue, and the focus that he would be receiving from Heyman may actually cause Punk to turn face.
It’s like I said: Speculation is heavy when it comes to what happens if Punk is kept behind the curtain on Sunday.
But, I think we all know that this is probably not going to happen. After all, Heymans signed the contract live on Raw, and Punk is being advertised for Payback. “Card subject to change” always applies, regardless of what the match may be, but I don’t believe that Punk will leave Chris Jericho to face someone else.
So again, where is he?
What would be the reason for WWE to keep Punk away from both Raw and SmackDown, unless it were to perpetrate a swerve on Jericho at Payback?
Perhaps even more intriguing is the question of who will go over in this match. Payback is taking place in Punk’s hometown of Chicago, but is that a guarantee that he will have his arm raised at the end of the bout? The problem I have with this is the fact that this scenario is more suited for a babyface than a heel.
For a heel, performing in his own hometown may mean something to the man, but to the character it’s just another reason to thumb his nose at the fans. After all, a heel doesn’t need or ask for support from anyone, especially a crowd that he believes disrespects him already.
The idea that Punk will return to his old stomping grounds as the conquering hero just falls a little short for me. Again, Punk is a heel and by all rights should throw any love he gets at Payback right back in the face of those fans who cheer for him.
He just doesn’t need them.
At the end of the day, this entire situation with Chris Jericho merely seems like a way to reinsert CM Punk back into active competition on WWE programming. And the fact is that this match will deliver on every level, as both men bring the best they have every time they face off in the ring.
But there are many unanswered questions. There are so many that all we can do right now is wonder and speculate as to what will happen at WWE Payback on Sunday June 16.
Let the clobbering begin.