Why I'm Enjoying the Punk-Jericho Story

As with quite a few things lately, I disagree with most people on the story between CM Punk and Chris Jericho. The popular opinion in my neck of the internet woods is that the story is getting stale and hasn't been handled right. But I just disagree.

Let me explain. I don't remember a time when CM Punk's choice to live a Straight Edge lifestyle was explored as deeply as it has been with this story. Certainly not to the degree of trying to explain his motivations, including possibly the most obvious narrative for why someone either hits the booze or pushes it away: the alcoholic dad. Add in an abusive alcoholic stepfather, and you have the most overused character trait in the world.

It's a testament to how Chris Jericho plays the bully-heel so well, as he proved when he was trying to take Rey Mysterio's mask from him. Jericho's character enjoys taking from people what is most precious to them: their identity. He tried to do it with Mysterio. And he is now doing the same to Punk by trying to drive the man to the thing he's so adamantly against. The thing that more than anything defines his character: straight edge.

What makes Jericho such an ass in these situations is that Jericho's only motivations are spite and jealousy. Jericho gave up on trying to be better than Punk with the loss at WrestleMania, so now he just wants to hit Punk where it really hurts.

Sure, Punk takes tremendous pride in his work life. But what is the one thing that is more consistent than his work? His refusal to drink alcohol or do drugs. What's the worst thing you could do to a man like that? Tip a crate of beer on him, dig up his family's skeletons and, worse, even try to make the man drink. It's a fascinating test of Punk's will not to drink.

To some, the story might be a bit slow and plodding. Perhaps the narrative isn't exactly what they expected it to be. Perhaps in their eyes WWE have well and truly fucked it up. But I'd like to remind those people that it's not over yet. If I know how Chris Jericho likes to do things, it's not over by a long shot. There's more mileage in this story than just the month-or-so of material we've had.

I'm all for exploring a character's deepest values and testing and torturing that character. Especially if that character is the hero of the story. Heroes need to be tortured and tested. The lack of this is what has made John Cena so stale over the years, that his character has never shown any weaknesses. But CM Punk's character does have its flaws. Punk's character is being tested and tortured by one of the all-time great villains.

And at the end of it, Punk will come out a stronger, more 3-dimensional character. And hopefully, the fans will be even more emotionally invested in him than they already are. That, in essence, is what I believe Punk and Jericho are trying to create.

I doubt Jericho-Punk ends at Extreme Rules. I don't think that would do it justice, and I'm sure both performers feel the same way. There's so much more which could be done with this story. I also feel that when the Jericho-Punk saga does end, in retrospect, it will be viewed as another great story from two of the best in the world. Some stories just need a bit more time.