CM Punk’s one-sided loss to Mike Jackson this past Saturday night at UFC 225 provoked a range of responses. While some chastised Punk for continuing what seems like a losing battle as a lesser-skilled cage fighter, as well as UFC for giving a fighter of Punk’s limited abilities such a prominent spot, many offered genuine kind words, praising Punk for following a far-off dream.
To those who miss his presence inside a WWE ring, rough losses to Mike Jackson and Mickey Gall have done nothing to fragment his overall legacy. The fact that Punk’s name is still the go-to chant for annoyed and spiteful spectators more than four years after his WWE exit is proof enough of Punk’s persistent fame. While it may not exactly be respectful when a few thousand ticket-buyers chant for Punk when today’s wrestlers are trying to work, the point is taken: Punk is to them an absent king, but a king nonetheless.
I noted recently on Twitter that as of June 25, the distance between Punk’s last match and that date will be longer than the distance between Shawn Michaels’ WrestleMania XIV “last” match and his return at SummerSlam 2002. I know time flies and all, but geez.
From his most true-blue fans, to those who at least remember elements of Punk fondly, CM Punk is to varying degrees a missed presence on WWE programming. Here are some of the qualities of Punk’s that we all miss the most.
10. Casually-Delivered Promos
Chances are, you’ve seen Sam Roberts as a talking head on WWE pay per view pre-shows. Roberts is a New York-based radio host, and an unabashed wrestling fanboy, whose cheerful nerd-dom was used as comic fodder on the old Opie and Anthony Show. Once back in 2011, Roberts played some soundbites of the “Pipe Bomb” promo on the show, and while comedian Jim Norton was initially cracking jokes, he ended up finding Punk compelling. He explained that because Punk wasn’t yelling like your stereotypical wrestler, but rather speaking smoothly with a calm demeanour, he found Punk much more interesting to listen to.
It’s a tough balance – an over-the-top promo can get people’s attention, but it can also come off as cliched and silly. A more casual line-reading can sound more human-like, but have the same excitement level as watching worms crawl. Punk has, time and time again, demonstrated the ability to speak in a relaxed tone, yet have enough natural command as to keep all eyes on him.