3. The Way He Would Sell
Selling is a hot topic for a lot of wrestlers (veteran and young) and fans (older and younger) online. It can be a bit frustrating for older ring artists to see today’s wrestlers do a sequence of 40 arcade-style flips and bumps, and not sell a single one for more than three seconds. That’s a slight exaggeration, but you get what I mean.
For Punk at his finest, check out the 2010 Royal Rumble when The Great Khali clamps him in the Jason Voorhees head squeeze. Punk’s overt grunts and groans as Khali presses his temples adds a lot more to a match than the eighth or ninth tope suicida. Sure, Punk through his top-shelf indy heritage could have had those sorts of matches, but he demonstrated so much more as a performer. Through grimaces, raised eyebrows, guttural cries, and intense glares, Punk is one of the better in-ring actors of this millennium. Perhaps he was born 20 years too late?
2. Show-Stealing Capacity
Punk made his displeasure clear about not getting a chance to go on last in a WrestleMania main event, and it’s easy to understand his gripe. He would’ve settled for a fast elimination in Rock vs. Cena II if it meant getting the main event on his career resume. Instead, he had to settle for stealing WrestleMania 29 alongside Undertaker, in what was easily the best match of a basic WrestleMania otherwise.
It wouldn’t be the only time that Punk was in the best match of a given PPV without going on last. Capitol Punishment, Royal Rumble, Over the Limit and Money in the Bank 2012, Payback and SummerSlam 2013 (okay, his match with Brock ties Cena/Bryan at a full-monty each), they all immediately spring to mind. I’d even dare throw in WrestleMania XXVIII (never thought Undertaker/Triple H in the Cell was as great as others believe, but that’s subjective). Point is, Punk really did make some magic inside that ring.
1. Rising To The Occasion
There’s a lot of pressure to deliver in WWE, especially on the main event level. The hardest-working, most gifted wrestlers break through the glass ceiling into the pantheon tier, only to lack that fundamental “something extra” to justify their continued residence, perhaps the drive to stay on top. Over the years, there have been wrestlers that reportedly asked to go back to the upper-midcard, unable to handle this kind of pressure.
On the other hand, Punk thrived on being the “Best in the World”, a moniker that he truly believed he earned through his tireless toil. While some wrestlers give off the, “Aww shucks, I’m just honoured to be here” vibe, Punk wanted to be the top guy, and it showed in everything he did. Carrying himself like an undoubted main eventer, especially when he actually *did* main event shows like Money in the Bank 2011 and Royal Rumble 2013, made it much harder to justify using Punk as anything except a top guy.