Many people have voiced their opinions on the self-proclaimed “Best in the world” walking out of WWE last weekend, but the argument about him changing the company’s outlook on smaller guys still remains unanswered.
Vince McMahon has always had the policy that bigger guys get championships, since the beginning of the PG era this has seen a change, after guys like Steve Austin and The Rock stepped down and Edge and Randy Orton seemed to take over.
Edge was never a big guy, but he was a guy who had a mission statement, he was “The Rated R superstar”. He has now retired an 11-time world champion, although from the outside he didn't look like one of the big guys, Edge weighed 241lb which is just 10lb less than John Cena.
Randy Orton is a third generation superstar so his route to WWE was a much simpler one, and when he became the youngest ever world champion back in 2004, but even “The Legend Killer,” though he also doesn't possess the usual muscle bound look, still weighs in at around 235lb.
The biggest argument for WWE to be pro smaller guys is Rey Mysterio’s famous 2006 world heavyweight championship win at Wrestlemania. The Luchador is arguably the smallest guy to walk through that stage curtain and when he became world champion weighing just 165 lb people thought that Mysterio had tarnished the heavyweight name.
Many people though that this was the turning point of WWE but it wasn’t Mysterio's was pushed to the title as a sort of sympathy boost for the fans following his best friend Eddie Guerrero’s death, and as soon as he had the title, they couldn't wait to take it from him and put him in an endless feud with Chavo Guerrero.
Shawn Michaels is another name that people have touted, after he defied many odds back in the “attitude era” when he won the world heavyweight championship at the first ever Elimination Chamber back in 2002.
Shawn was 225 lb, Punk himself is just 7lb lighter, but I don’t feel like CM Punk has defied the odds as a smaller guy, I feel like he changed the look of the top WWE Superstars.
Punk walked into the WWE in 2005 covered in tattoos with facial piercings and long hair, he didn’t look like a champion, the company took one look at him and made their decision that he would never be a top superstar, even Punk himself admitted in his “Best in the World” documentary that he didn’t think he would be part of WWE for long.
Punk had the skills in the ring and his big break through came when he showed WWE that he could work as a heel, they had already unfairly taken the world title away from him after he won it via a Money in the Bank cash in on Edge. Punk never claimed a rematch, but he did have one of the best feuds of the year against Jeff Hardy and showed the company that he could be one of the top guys.
The “straight edge society” was WWE’s way of keeping Punk away from the title scene for a while whilst making him one of the most hated superstars in the PG ear, but following their contract negotiations in 2011 when Punk proved to be the best superstar on the mic and delivered some of the best spare of the moment promos in WWE history.
The Chicago born grappler took WWE’s popularity through the roof with his trademark “Pipebombs” leading up to Money in the bank 2011 where he finally beat “the man” John Cena for the WWE championship and has since become the longest reigning WWE Champion of the modern era, 434 days, and officially the sixth longest of all time. Only the returning Dwayne ‘the Rock” Johnson could knock Punk off at last year’s Royal Rumble otherwise Punk could have held the title for much longer.
When WWE had two main championships it was easy for Mysterio or Punk to win one of the titles and a big guy to own the other with the focus being on the bigger guy like Cena and Triple H. Now though the WWE has just one title for the top stars the “face of WWE” holds the title and with the battle Daniel Bryan is going through now because he doesn't have “the look” CM Punk was never going to hold the WWE world heavyweight championship.
Punk managed to change the outlook for WWE that only good looking, suit wearing muscle bound superstars could hold the title, he walked in as a Punk kid and became the champion without ever changing his character or beliefs, he became WWE and World champion his way, he broke down barriers at every interval and showed the company that they should never judge a book by its cover.
Regardless of if Punk does return to WWE, he will forever be remembered for “breaking the fourth wall” back in 2011, the year he won the Slammy for superstar of the year and for stealing the show with The Undertaker at last year’s Wrestlemania.
There are stories going around about how selfish Punk has been leaving without putting anyone over and walking out without notice but I feel like he was justified in his actions, Daniel Bryan has the WWE universe behind him every match, Punk was going through the same thing behind the scenes, he was kept away from the title trail all of last year and put into an endless feud with Paul Heyman, and he still managed to make that the headline of WWE.
Punk came to ever show and stole it and WWE never gave him his Wrestlemania main event, if he was going to leave in July then he would never have had that chance and be able to walk away with his head held high. He still can’t having walked away the way he has but he has made a point in leaving, he has pulled up WWE reliance on past superstars and made the universe aware that the superstars feel the same way as the fans and essentially turned Batista into a heel.
I feel like Punk has done all he can in WWE to smash through these glass ceilings or reach those brass rings and he felt that his job was done, I also feel that whether people will admit it or not Punk has changed the landscape of the biggest wrestling company in the world and there will be a gap there that will not be filled for a long time. Hopefully his long time comrade Daniel Bryan can step up and be “the man” in his absence.
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