My Two Centsss - CM Punk is Not Only a 'Top 25' Wrestler, He's Probably 'Top 10'
By Super Chrisss
May 24, 2014 - 4:40:03 PM
So last night I was surfing the web, trying to kill time until my friends came by to pick me up for a night out on the town (which has been happening way too often lately, thanks to the Montreal Canadiens refusing to surrender in the Stanley Cup Playoffs). So I was scrolling down the LOP home page when I saw a headline that read, "Jim Ross Blog: Is CM Punk a Top 25 Wrestler?.
Honestly, I almost didn't bother clicking on the link, because in my mind, that sounded like a rhetorical question. Of course Punk will go down in history as a Top 25 wrestler! But lo and behold, the majority of LOP community didn't seem to agree with J.R.'s assessment of Punk whatsoever! People were sharing their own Top 25 lists; others were simply trolling by saying someone like The Big Show accomplished more in WWE than Punk ever did (which is hilarious). That's not a diss at The World's Largest Athlete, by the way - I'm just shaking my head at how quickly some people are writing off Punk's accomplishments.
Frankly, as far as I'm concerned, an argument could be made that CM Punk is not only worthy of being considered a 'Top 25' all-time great, but even a 'Top 10' wrestler. If WWE were to close their doors tomorrow, I would have no problem placing Punk in an all-time Top 10 list.
But before I give my reasoning behind Punk having such a lasting impression on WWE and it's history, I suppose it would be best to cover the grounds on why Punk is guaranteed a spot in the 'Top 25'. To be fair, what a 'Top 25' means to you might differ on what it means to other people. I would wager an accurate definition of being classified as a 'Top 25' wrestler relies on how he or she qualifies in the following categories:
-Level of charisma
Under that criteria, I think it's fair to say that Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and John Cena are all in the 'Top 4'. That's almost indisputable, considering they were each the 'draws' of their respective era. Everyone else comes next, at least in my opinion. If we're judging wrestlers based on the above categories, how could anyone deny CM Punk a spot in that coveted 'Top 25'?
In-ring ability: In Punk's case, does it really need explaining? In 2013 alone, Punk had more Match of the Year canddiates than anyone else on the roster, as his matches with John Cena, The Undertaker, and Brock Lesnar will be talked about for a long time. That's without taking into account Punk's other amazing matches over the years, against guys like John Morrison, Jeff Hardy, Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio, and many others. For a guy who wrestled on the indies for many years prior to joining WWE, it didn't take Punk long to adapt to the WWE-style.
Microphone skills: Hogan, Austin, Rock, and Cena may be the four biggest stars in pro wrestling history, but when it comes to naming the best talkers of all-time, Punk has got to be in the 'Top 5'. The moment Punk picked up a live mic - before, during, and after his infamous 'Pipebomb' promo - it was magic. He's one of those guys that could either make you love him or want to laugh as a face, or make you want to poke his eyes out if playing a villain. Other than the 'Pipebomb', who could ever forget some of the promos Punk cut on Jeff Hardy during their 2009 feud? Or the extremely creepy one where he sang "Happy Birthday" to Rey Mysterio's daughter? And, of course, The Rock's arms "are just too short to box with God". Not only is Punk a promo master, but his brief time as a member of the Raw commentary team in late 2010 revealed how talented with words he really is.
Level of charisma: it's been often said that charisma cannot be taught; you have to be born with it. I second that statement. CM Punk is someone who was born with tons of charisma. The Rock is charismatic. The Rock's cousin, Roman Reigns, has charisma oozing out of him. But not everyone else was that fortunate. Some of the guys Punk faced over his WWE career were great wrestlers, but had no charisma whatsoever. In order to truly make it in pro wrestling, you have to make people like you, or hate you. Either one works, as long as the fans care about you. No one wants to be an Alberto del Rio. Punk is someone who the fans loved since his debut on WWECW, and to this day, continues to be missed. You may not like the CM Punk chants that still break out on television or live events, but that was the sort of connection Punk was able to create.
Popularity: It's funny. Had WWE not came SO CLOSE to ruining CM Punk after he delivered his 'Pipebomb' and won the WWE Championship at Money in the Bank 2011, he could have ascended to John Cena's level of stardom. Instead, thanks to WWE nearly killing Punk's momentum by attempting to make a Latino star out of Del Rio, Punk was stuck at number two. Even when Punk was the WWE Champion for over a year, it was Cena who main-evented almost every Raw and Pay-Per-View. WWE never gave Punk the proper spotlight until after he dropped the title to The Rock, ironically enough. It was only in 2013 that Punk finally gor a chance to main-event Raws, SmackDowns, and PPVs. On the flip side, how many 'Top 25' guys can claim to be the top or the second-biggest draw in their era? Whether he was playing the role of the antagonist or the protagonist, Punk would almost always receive one of the loudest reactions of the night.
Achievements: I've said it several times in the past, especially prior to the 2014 Royal Rumble - all that CM Punk had left to accomplish in the WWE was to win the Royal Rumble match and main-event Wrestlemania. Look at his resume:
-Five-time WWE/World Champion
-Former ECW Champion
-Former Intercontinental Champion
-Former Tag Team Champion
-Two-time Money in the Bank Winner
CM Punk accomplished all those things in just over seven years with the company. That's insane, when you think about it. Especially since his final reign as WWE Champion lasted 434 days, making Punk the longest-reigning champion in 25 years. Not even Cena, Rock, or Austin accomplished such a feat. Should Punk decide to never again for the company, his accolades are more than deserving of a WWE Hall of Fame induction at least a decade from now, and definitely worthy of being considered a 'Top 25' wrestler.
I think the only thing that could prevent Punk from landing a spot in an elite 'Top 10' list would be if one took into consideration a wrestler's accomplishments in every company they competed in, not just the WWE. That's why several people would give the edge to a Randy Savage or an Ultimate Warrior. But...that's not really fair, considering the territory days are long behind us. Nowadays, if a wrestler wants to achieve true success, WWE is the only place where that can. Back in the 90's, wrestlers jumped from WWE to WCW to ECW and back. Now, if a wrestler is unhappy, where is he going to go? TNA? ROH? Neither are anywhere close to being a rival to WWE like WCW once was, so we're ultimately forced to rank a wrestler based on what he did under Vince McMahon's payroll, and nobody else's.
In my eyes, anyone who seriously feels Punk is 'undeserving' of being considered a 'Top 25' wrestler is still upset about the way he left the company. Well, guess what? A lot of top names left the 'E in controversial fashion (Bret Hart, Stone Cold) but that didn't seem to harm their legacies all that much. For all we know, Punk could be back in a WWE ring come 2015. Or he might not be. No one knows for sure. But based on everything Punk accomplished between June 2006 and his final match at this year's Royal Rumble PPV, he is more than worthy of being in the discussion of 'all-time greats'. After all, you don't call yourself "The Best in the World" if you can't back it up.
Your Two Centsss: Without listing twenty-five names, around where would you rank CM Punk on all-time greats?
D) Not worthy
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