CM Punk's heel turn has me concerned. His talent will find a way to make it work, I'm sure, but it won't be easy. I don't see how it can be.
When Punk sat down at the top of the entrance ramp just over a year ago, he was a heel by WWE standards. He even blamed the fans that began cheering him that night in an attempt to reverse their vocal reaction to the "truth" he was spilling.
It clearly didn't work.
The decision was made rather quickly to feed off of the mass fan appeal, mainstream media attention, and pure hype and buzz Punk created with that one promo. He turned face and started his ascension to the top of the WWE roster.
After a few months of "shooting" and dropping pipe bombs, it was very evident Vince wasn't going to continue allowing Punk to run with that schtick. For unknown reasons (although I have a theory), Punk settled into his face run with a more tame and typical approach.
Personally, I believe he lost a ton of momentum as a result.
The lengthy title run is a nice alternative, but it was also the cheap way out. A consolation prize. The direction Punk was headed in after breaking down "the fourth wall" was much more significant than any piece of gold and leather around his waist.
Why Vince didn't want that to continue is beyond me! (And I say that with only the slightest bit of sarcasm if "slight" means an exuberant amount of something.)
Quick note: I'm not screaming conspiracy here, but there's more to the story. It seems a little strange that the reins on Punk seemed to be pulled back as soon as he started selling more merchandise than a certain someone. Just saying...
Monday night, the 1,000th episode of Raw ended with a clear statement: CM Punk is now heel, again. The question now being, just what kind of heel will he be?
If you're wanting/expecting Punk to return to his position as the "voice of the voiceless", I don't see that happening. Not if Vince wants him to remain a bad guy for long anyway. How he explains his actions from this past Monday are critical in determining what his success might be as a heel.
He can't bitch about John Cena and the Rock taking the spotlight again. There's too much truth in that. Fans will cheer.
He can't talk about being the WWE Champion, yet he's not even main eventing most pay per views. There's too much truth in that. Fans will cheer.
He might want to limit the amount of times he describes himself as "the best in the world" going forward. There's too much truth in that. Fans will cheer.
The alternative? What else? He'll likely become a cookie-cutter version of a typical WWE heel. Cheap heat, cowardly tactics, likely lose a lot more, etc.
He certainly can't be cool anymore. And he better not dare speak truths. Ever.
Fans WANT to cheer Punk. Kids and women might change their minds after Monday and follow suit, but the internet wrestling community and the smart fans won't be so quick to fall in line. And I'm sure Vince is aware by now, they are a very vocal group when they want to be.
If you're a Punk fan looking for a positive spin, I could see this new (again) character buying him more time as champion. That might be a silver lining in all of this.
There's no doubt in my mind WWE "wants" Punk to become a mega-heel, but I'm not even sure that's possible.
He'll be working Cena, a guy the IWC already wants to hate, and the Rock, a guy that could quickly remind fans he's a "Hollywood sellout" when he starts working Punk regularly. Both men will have a hard time working face against Punk for the long-term.
Rock, at least, has a better shot at it than Cena.
CM Punk has a new challenge on his hands. How does he convince fans to react the way they're supposed to, without limiting or eliminating what makes him so popular in the first place? Again, I'm not sure it's possible, but I'm looking forward to watching him try.
And I won't be surprised, or disappointed, if he proves me wrong.
Follow Chris Cash on Twitter @RealityofChris and be sure to check out the return of the Voice of Wrestling from this past Monday on the all-new VOW Network.