Tuesday Morning Backlash: After 2/7/11 WWE Monday Night Raw CM Punk is the Best Wrestler in the World

Well, that debate didn’t last long. When Shawn Michaels retired and then Chris Jericho, soon after, decided to leave Wrestling for the time, there was no real clear man who was the best wrestler in the world. There was no one who was at the top of the card and top of their game, with stellar promos and character development who was stylistically diverse and entirely consistent. CM Punk has finally, fully changed that. He is the best in the world today.

Punk has mastered, finally, the art of a WWE television match. He used to make matches feel rushed and too short, but the truly skilled in-ring performers can make a 5-minute match feel special with the right opponent (see NXT’s Jericho vs. Bryan). Punk isn’t having a classic every time out, but then he isn’t getting the opponent for that. What he is doing is giving Cena his best regular television matches in quite some time. The best part of it is just how little these matches resemble his classics with Rey Mysterio last year. That’s not just skill, but also versatility. Of course, that’s not what makes him the current best in the world.

Punk has proven the most versatile mic man in the business. Capable of being a neutral or heel announcer, backstage skits, a promo with or without a feud, a head-to-head or solo promo, Punk, quite simply, draws the best heat via his mic work of anyone not named Vickie Guerrero. What’s more, Punk earns his heat, staying true to his character and making good points that the fans just don’t want to hear. As amazing as his talking has become, that’s not why he’s the best in the world, either.

Punk has recently fully earned the trust of WWE. Gone from non-feuds with R-Truth and Big Show, Punk is now atop the most heavily pushed WWE stable in years. The New Nexus have quickly become the CM Punk show, as he impressed his whole personality on the group. Not only has this worked, but it has also gotten Punk right atop the card at this year’s Wrestlemania facing one of WWE’s golden boys, John Cena or Randy Orton. His rocket ride to the top of the card on the WWE’s biggest stage is impressive, but still not how he became undisputed #1.

CM Punk has taken from the annals of wrestling and become a true mastermind. Usually a heel’s brilliant plans mimic those of the “Cerebral Assassin” and consist of hitting people with blunt objects. Not CM Punk, though, as Punk will consistently, methodically take apart his opponents with clever plots and mind games that have a real goal. This brilliance adds another layer to his claim for #1, but didn’t put him over the top.

What puts Punk over the top is how brilliantly he has crafted his character. He has logically gone from fresh-faced fan favorite to reviled heel, the entire time following plot progression and developing his character. First he was a plucky face, but he became slightly bitter when he was allowed to be cost the title without losing the belt. Add in a move to Smackdown and their druggy champion Jeff Hardy blatantly going against his beliefs, and that fans supporting that drug addict over him, and you had the makings of a logical heel turn. So Punk, after rightly turning on the fans who preferred Hardy to him, lost to the Undertaker. Seeing that he wasn’t a physical match for the Deadman, he began hunting down an army and making moves against other top players to raise his stock, like Rey Mysterio and Big Show. Unfortunately, Punk’s first army, the Straight Edge Society, wasn’t up to the task and when Punk had a chance to go to Raw, he did.

On Raw, Punk said he had a vendetta to finish and, with him taking over Nexus, finding the right army this time, the vendetta was thought to be against John Cena. It wasn’t against Cena. Cena was merely a means to take over Nexus, as they were his enemies, and a convenient target since Cena stood between Punk and the top of the card. No, the real enemy is Randy Orton. Orton is the slimy villain whose assault took the title from Punk originally and now, surprise surprise, the fans were cheering Orton. So Punk, finally having his army, finally having his means to revenge, finally went after Randy Orton… and only after his assaults did he even tell Orton why.

This is all remarkably similar to the character and in ring growth Punk displayed in ROH. Everyone thought he’d never be allowed a years long plot to develop that way in WWE. He’d have to change his character and his style and get used to the shorter frames. Today, he’s a better wrestler, a better talker, still works his style, and has made WWE fit into his years-in-the-making character arc. That’s why CM Punk is the best wrestler in the world.

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