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   November 23, 2014



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Mat Matters: Chicago is ground zero for WWE
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling


CM Punk = Chicago. Here he dons a Blackhawks jersey in September 2013. Photo by Ricky Havlik, RickyHavlik.com

WWE's within striking distance of Monday Night Raw, and what will inevitably a hostile environment should CM Punk not appear.

Call it a 'hiatus' or whatever you might, but having the hometown hero not on the scene will be disastrous for WWE. Already, there's a Twitter campaign #hijackRAW and an account @ChicagoRAWcrowd that have been drumming up support for what will be one of the most hostile environments in WWE in ages. It could reach levels of anti-Cena sentiment from ECW One Night Stand a few years back.

This, of course, is all going under the assumption that CM Punk doesn't appear... and there's still the possibility he will.

Saturday, word started to spread that Punk indeed would be making his return and that the whole scene up until this point has been a work, something Punk and WWE executed brilliantly in the past. From the outset I had a sneaking suspicion, and giving Punk 5-odd weeks off while he recuperates from a barrage of injuries isn't a bad thing, especially when you're going into 'Mania's stretch run.

There certainly seems to be an angling towards Punk returning, when you look at this past week's TV. Batista's somewhat surprising heel turn means the main event of 'Mania is going to have two bad guys in the main event. This opens the door for a babyface to go into the match, and there are really only two possibilities:

  • Punk; and
  • Daniel Bryan.

    Bryan right now is positioned in a contest with Triple H, which leaves the door open for Punk to return in the main event, what we all know he's been wanting for so long.

    Perhaps the best way for this to play out on TV is for he and Chicago to 'hold Raw hostage' until his demands are met, which is to be placed into the main event at 'Mania.

    This works well into the open babyface hole in the main event, and is certainly an 'in-demand' spot, which would satisfy a crowd that would otherwise bloodlust for Bryan to be in the coveted position.

    Alternately, Punk could take the spot with Triple H, elevating Bryan to the main event, a sacrifice he'd probably willingly take (on screen); off-screen though, it would likely be his 'this is best for business' swan song at 'Mania and not get into the true main event before his contract expires this summer, what will in all likelihood be his last with the Fed.

    Either way, WWE and Punk need to settle the squabbles and do the right thing tonight; otherwise, you're going to have a very hostile Chicago crowd, one that won't give up on its demands and will indeed stop the show.

    View Past Mat Matters op/eds here.