CM Punk’s 434 days as WWE champion is a feat that may never be matched in the current era of World Wrestling Entertainment history. A look back shows a man that beat the odds and achieved more in 434 days than most superstars achieve in a career.
It is funny when you think of Punk as a heel WWE champion and where his title reign ranks among other former heel champions. It’s funny because when you break it down, Punk only had six months as a heel champion, and he wasn’t even a full-fledged heel for all of them. Punk’s heel title reign is a small window that featured only three key rivals during that time period.
The early portion of Punk’s reign was much more impressive in the ring than outside of the ring. Inside of the ring he had fantastic to excellent matches with Daniel Bryan, Chris Jericho, and even Dolph Ziggler. Even as he tore down the building and redeemed the title, he was still never given the full vote of confidence from WWE management. As great as Punk was in the ring, it was still the John Cena show.
I’ll give Punk a lot of credit. He could have basked in the glory of being second fiddle to John Cena. Hey, the number two babyface still sells a heck of a lot of merchandise. Instead, Punk wanted more and risked it all by turning heel. All of the momentum and good will he had built up from Money in the Bank 2011 would be mortgaged for the chance at opposing John Cena as the number one heel. The gamble paid off!
Evaluating Punk’s title reign is a very subjective argument. Punk fans love him and don’t want to use business in their evaluation of his championship run. I get it. But at the end of the day it is a business and as fun as Punk was for some of you, he was not a success financially as champion. The man never moved the needle whether it was a RAW rating or a pay per view buyrate. To me, that is the sign of success in pro wrestling, so in my eyes his title reign was a bit of disappointment.
I don’t want to bash Punk too much because what he accomplished was awesome. He broke through that thick glass window of WWE booking. We can sit here and run through the names of guys who were “given chances” to carry the ball over the last several years. They all failed and some aren’t even around anymore. Punk survived and scored with that ball in spite of management’s best efforts to reduce his title to second place on the cards behind Cena. I’m not a big Punk fan but he deserves a lot of credit for that.
Will we look back in 20 years and declare Punk the genius he says we will see? I doubt it, but we will look back at the past 434 days as some of the most fun in this era of pro wrestling.