Analysis: Does CM Punk have the upper hand with WWE?

cmpunkMonday Night Raw in Chicago was the perfect opportunity for WWE to bury CM Punk. Think about it: right there in his hometown, in front of fans just ready to explode at any hint of Punk’s name. There would no doubt been a cavalcade of boos raining down from the rafters, but just like when you need to pull the Band-Aid off, and you just do it, the pain lasts an instant, and then it’s over.

But WWE didn’t pull off the Band-Aid. There was consideration given to having “Bad News” Barrett deliver bad news in the form of informing those in attendance that Punk was not among them, but the spot was pulled. Why? Because WWE execs, most notably Vince McMahon, still hope Punk will eventually come back, and by eventually we mean soon.

The show will go on regardless, so it’s not about Punk pumping up what looks to be the most anemic WrestleMania card in the past decade, though that wouldn’t be a bad thing in and of itself. No, it’s more about what WWE has invested in Punk. The guy moves merchandise; that much is obvious. Punk is the Everyman hero right now, and this extended absence from WWE is only adding to the mystique that is CM Punk.

So there’s his leverage. He had made it clear in interviews in the months leading up to his departure that he wasn’t fond of the extensive travel schedule that he’d endured for the past decade. He wants time off, and more than one day a week at that. Hell, he’s not alone in that in WWE. MVP returned to the States in TNA, and said he considered an offer from WWE, but just couldn’t commit to the six-days-a-week travel schedule that life in WWE requires.

Back to Punk, he’s not going to return if it comes down to the return being a return to the way things have always been. He’s going to be a part-time wrestler, not quite The Undertaker, who gets dusted off and put in the spotlight every WrestleMania, but Punk isn’t going to be in the main-event mix for months at a time, either.

A Punk return is going to mean WWE is going to have to pick and choose its spots with him. Actually, if the company was smart about its long-term future with respect to its talents, it would start making that approach its modus operandi.

– Column by Chris Graham

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