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'Monday Night Raw' recap: What happened to CM Punk?

May 8, 2012 | 12:54 pm

CM Punk on "Raw"

It was a mediocre "Monday Night Raw," featuring the return of Paul Heyman and the continuing decline of CM Punk.

John Laurinaitis, WWE executive vice president of talent relations and general manager of Raw and Smackdown, was in the ring to start the show. After weeks of maligning him, I have to admit that Laurinaitis has grown into his role wonderfully, and I now actually look forward to seeing him.

Lauriniatis gloated over beating up John Cena last week and was going on about what a great wrestler he was when he was interrupted by CM Punk.

A few months ago, CM Punk was the hottest wrestler on the planet. He cut promos that seemed unscripted and made fun of people for using terms like "WWE Universe," refusing to do so himself because he wasn't a corporate stooge. But his appearance Monday showed why the Punk character has cooled off considerably. His promo seemed scripted. He used the phrase "WWE Universe." In fact, he came across as just the type of person he was fighting against a few months ago. A corporate stooge. Which is why Punk doesn't get nearly the same reaction coming out that he used to.

In fact, this show pointed out the tremendous decline of three key wrestlers for WWE: Punk, Chris Jericho and Brock Lesnar.

Jericho returned to great fanfare a few weeks ago. After a series of mysterious videos teasing the return of someone who will "end the world as we know it," Jericho came back to much fanfare, not even saying a word his first few appearances while still managing to whip the crowd into a frenzy. Off stage, Jericho had always said he wouldn't return until he felt he could offer something new. Well, the only thing new about him is his Lite-Brite jacket. He's basically the same character he was at the end of his last run in WWE, a whiny guy who says he's the best but never backs it up. He's just another guy now, a guy who didn't reinvent himself and didn't "end the world as we know it."

Finally, there's Brock Lesnar, who was brought in as a guy who doesn't care about anyone or anything, who is only happy when he is hurting people. And this week on "Raw," the butt-kicking machine who is only happy when hurting someone sends out a representative to complain that all his contract demands weren't met, so he is quitting. Oooh, how scary. In short, he's just another guy now.

Don't get me wrong. "Raw" is still an entertaining show. It just seems there were three missed opportunities here. Punk will never be as red-hot as he was. Jericho is just another guy now. But there's still time to make Lesnar special. Here's hoping the WWE has a surprise up its sleeve.

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"Monday Night Raw": The Rock strikes back

— Houston Mitchell

Photo: CM Punk, left, talks to John Laurinaitis. Credit: WWE.

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