So the hot topic in the world of wrestling right now involves everybody's favourite hot-head, CM Punk. In case you haven't yet heard, Punk was involved in a physical altercation with a fan last night, and by that I mean he full on punched somebody in the face. There's a video of the altercation that a fan took with his phone, and it shows everything that led up to the punch. Basically as Punk was retreating through the crowd, a couple of fans were trying to shove him down the steps. Punk was getting visibly pissed at all of that, and finally he snapped and backhanded the guy behind him before full on punching him in the face. The cell phone video makes it look like the guy got hit pretty damn hard too. In fact, here's the videos I'm talking about. Excuse the volume level on the second video, I'm not sure why it's so quiet.
There's been some speculation, as there always seems to be when a wrestler "attacks" a fan, that this whole situation is nothing more than a work. Personally I think Punk just snapped and hit the guy (who hadn't actually touched Punk, for the record) because he was pissed at the fans who were trying to push him. He freely admits that he's a bit of a prick with a short temper, so would it really surprise ANYBODY that he punched somebody after someone tried to shove him down a set of stairs? I don't blame Punk. Yes, he overreacted, but watching that fan's video makes it clear that Punk was provoked, he just happened to hit the wrong guy. I do blame security though. You'd think that if a wrestler was supposed to be walking through the crowd they would be on the ball and make sure shit like this didn't happen.
Regardless of who is to blame though, people are naturally talking about what's going to happen to Punk in terms of consequences for what he did. I'm not going to sit here and talk about what I think should happen, because frankly it wouldn't make for a very long column at all. Personally I think he should be fined, and when the victim inevitably contacts legal advice, Punk should be responsible for a portion of the settlement. I don't think he should be fired, I don't think he should be stripped of the belt. At most MAYBE he should get a suspension of some kind. What I do want to look at for this column is some hypothetical situations. What if happened? That sort of thing. So with that being said, let's get down to business.
What if CM Punk got fired?
CM Punk is one of the hottest commodities in wrestling right now, especially in today's WWE where star power isn't exactly in abundance anymore. Despite some questionable booking at times, Punk has managed to get over with the fans on a whole new level. He's finally going full blown heel, and despite seeming a little stale at times, he looks to be back on top of his game. If he were to get fired, WWE would have to find somebody capable of stepping into his shoes, and quite frankly I don't think there's anyone that's quite ready to do that. Between merchandise sales, match quality, and fan reaction, who can really touch CM Punk, aside from John Cena? He's their top heel right now, and it looks like WWE is finally giving him a real serious push. It's been a long time coming.
That being said, I don't think it would be the end of the world for them. Yes it would suck, but I don't think he's a big enough deal to sink the company. WWE would do everything they could to just erase the memory of CM Punk, Cena would likely win the newly vacated championship and go on to feud with somebody else, and someone like Ziggler or Miz would be quickly thrust into the main event. It might take a couple of weeks, but eventually it would be business as usual. I'm sure some of the IWC would riot and make outlandish claims that they would never watch WWE again, but that feeling would fade and they'd go back to bitching about something else.
CM Punk getting fired would suck, but in the long run I don't think it would really change anything in a major way.
What if CM Punk got fired… and went to TNA?
This is somewhat related to the previous point, as I'm sure if he DID get fired, the speculation of "will he end up in TNA?" would immediately start up.
I'm a fan of CM Punk, but he is no game changer. Punk joining TNA would not make them the #1 company in the world, plain and simple. Yeah they might get some extra viewers at first, but it wouldn't make a massively noticeable difference. Punk would likely be thrown right into the title hunt in TNA, and rightfully so given his name value, and the fans would be treated to some phenomenal title feuds with guys like Austin Aries. As a fan of TNA, I would love to see Punk there. There are a lot of potentially great matches that he could have, that's undeniable.
Again though, it wouldn't make a big difference. John Cena might be the one guy who, if he jumped ship, would make a big difference for TNA in the long run, but Punk? Nah. He might help a bit, but overall I don't think WWE would have much of a reason to worry.
What if CM Punk got stripped of the title?
This is an interesting one because there's a few different ways WWE could go about doing it:
He loses the belt to Ryback at Hell in a Cell
This would be my least favourite outcome of them all. I do like Ryback, and he's certainly getting over with the fans, but we've seen too many times before what can happen when WWE rushes somebody to the main event. If Ryback continues to impress like he has been, I have no doubt that he'll win a World Title at some point. But right now he's just too untested, and it could end up doing a lot of harm to the WWE product if the title run flops. Not only that, but it could hurt him as a character as his momentum would be prematurely stopped when it became clear that he couldn't hang in the main event. It also wouldn't be great for Punk. Ryback may be an "unstoppable monster", but Punk is the WWE Champion. Am I really supposed to buy that he loses the belt to a guy that's beaten up some jobbers? It would make Punk look weak, and it would be an awful way to end an already questionable championship run.
He loses the belt to John Cena at Hell in a Cell
Assuming Cena is healthy enough to compete at the PPV, I wouldn't be all that surprised if this did end up happening. WWE loves to jump back to Cena when the ratings start to slip, and this would be a perfect excuse for him to regain the belt. The problem with that is it's a short-term solution. The Cena/Punk feud would be abruptly altered, and the plans for a Punk/Rock title match at Royal Rumble (assuming those rumours are true) would be put in jeopardy. The event is still a few months away, but think about what would have to happen in that time to make things work as effectively. Punk would have to regain the belt, which likely wouldn't happen for another month at the next PPV; Cena would have to have his rematch, another month wait for the NEXT PPV; and that would only leave a month for Punk/Cena to (at least temporarily) end their feud and have Punk start building something with Rock. It could obviously still work, but I think having Punk walk into the Rumble with his lengthy reign still in tact would be infinitely more effective in terms of building interest for the match.
He gets suspended effective immediately, the title is vacated, and WWE holds a quick one-night tournament to crown a new champion
It wouldn't be the first time we've seen this happen. If WWE did decide to go this route, they would need a quick transitional champion to face John Cena at the PPV. Someone who wouldn't be too badly affected by losing the belt so quickly. I figure it would be someone like The Miz who's already been in the main event before, making him a somewhat believable champion. Have him brag about being a dual-champion for the couple of RAWs before the PPV, only to have him lose the belt to Cena. Give Miz his rematch on RAW, Cena retains, and Punk is back before we know it to have a quick feud with Cena before the Rumble. Still, this isn't really an ideal situation given the amount of quick switches that would occur with the title.
What if WWE chooses to act like nothing happened?
This scenario seems pretty likely to me as I wouldn't be at all surprised if WWE wanted to minimize the publicity the altercation received as much as possible. With Linda already receiving criticism for her past involvement with the company, something like this becoming big news could cripple her run for a second year in a row.
If WWE chooses to ignore the situation and go on with things as they planned, then I don't really know what would happen. I'm sure they'll be settling out of court with the victim anyways, so would their booking decision really be affected? They'd keep going with whatever they currently have planned, with the possibility that things could get changed at the last second being as present as ever. Ideally, to me at least, that would mean Punk keeping the belt through to the Rumble where he would face The Rock, but it all depends on where WWE is going with all of this.
WWE should NEVER have made Ryback a potential opponent for Punk at Hell in a Cell unless they know 100% that Cena is going to be healthy enough to fight. I've already said why I think Ryback winning the belt this early would be a bad thing, but think about how bad things would still be if he lost. His undefeated streak gets ended and he goes back to being an afterthought of the main event. The only possible outcome I could see that would preserve the momentum of both Ryback and Punk would be for the match to end in a draw or DQ, but given the no-DQ nature of a Hell in a Cell match, that isn't exactly a possibility. Ryback is just not ready for the main event yet, and I really hope they don't end up booking him in the match. Punk/Cena is a proven draw, so my fingers are crossed that Cena is healthy enough to compete in a few weeks.
So what do you guys think will happen to Punk, and do you agree with the outcomes I've predicted for these hypotheticals? As always let me know through one of the many ways you have at your disposal to get in touch with me. Until next time however, thanks for stopping by.