The secret wasn't actually a secret at all, just something that isn't widely known by those who only follow WWE's product. On Monday, after Punk defeated The Miz in singles competition, Jericho showed up on the TitanTron and revealed to the audience why the WWE Champion had chosen to live a life free of drugs and alcohol.
Punk's straight edge lifestyle was a result of his father's alcoholism and the effect it had on him and his family.
That's no storyline, it's not a facet of the CM Punk "character." It's the honest to goodness truth. Punk has spoken about it before, during his tenure with Ring of Honor (ROH) while he was embroiled in a feud with Raven. The surface hadn't been scratched in WWE, however. Simply, Punk was straight edge and that was that.
The segment received a lot of criticsm with some saying it was awkward or uncomfortable but I found it to be an intriguing and bold decision by WWE, Jericho and Punk to take their feud to that level.
As Geno and I mentioned during the post-Raw radio show, it adds a different layer to Punk's character in the fans' eyes. Something sorely lacking in WWE, even amongst their biggest stars, are fully-developed, well-rounded characters. Jinder Mahal is a villainous foreigner. The Big Show is the lovable giant who you still wouldn't want to anger. Even John Cena, WWE's posterboy, is limited to being a hard-working, never give up do-gooder. There's no shades of gray anywhere, only blacks and whites.
Now, with the Punk and Jericho rivalry, we'll be able to examine why a Superstar does what he does. We know Cena will always fight until the end and we know he will always love the WWE Universe but why? What was instilled in him to act in such a way?
We know now why Punk believes drinking and doing drugs is, in effect, poisoning one's body. Beyond his shellshocked, word-less reaction on Monday, his only response thus far is to threaten harm on Jericho for unearthing "skeletons in his family closet" and telling his Miami opponent to "keep [his] father out of it."
Of course, this will continue to play out as Jericho looks to get inside Punk's head, furthering his desire to "drive [him] to alcoholism." I see it reaching the point where the "Straight Edge Messiah" reaches a breaking point and cuts an impassioned speech about his childhood, his father and the demon in a bottle that helped to make Punk the strong-willed man he is today.
Jericho will continue to peck away at him because on his end, he knows what Punk said was true. He was never "the guy," he never shouldered the burden of having the company on his back like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Steve Austin, and John Cena have and Punk is starting to.
That in itself is an intriguing development in Jericho's part. He has had feuds in the past that have been somewhat personal. You don't deck Shawn Michaels' wife, busting her lip and not admit that the rivalry goes deeper than professional competitiveness. But when Punk stood in Jericho's face and told the former Undisputed Champion that he has done everything Jericho has done and did it better, he realized he was playing with a different beast altogether.
Punk has wrestled all across the world, achieving success as an indie wrestling darling before getting the call up to the WWE. In a move completely unheard of in recent times, he held onto his in-ring name, refusing to go by any terrible name the company would bestow on him (paging Scotty Goldman).
He then conquered Ohio Valley Wrestling before doing the same in WWE's version of Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). When the brand folded, it wasn't long before he was on top of the Smackdown mountain. Then he lit the wrestling world on fire last year with his infamous Pipe Bomb promo. And he did it his way. He's made his way to the top of his profession and did so fighting every single step of the way.
Jericho knows there's nothing he can say to deride Punk's accomplishments that the WWE Universe will buy. We've seen him go from third-brand castoff to WWE royalty. And that's why the attacks on Punk's personal life are that much more effective. It's supposed to be awkward and dark and make you feel uncomfortable. If your rival was treating your personal life like as open book on national television, you'd feel the same way. Jericho hit below the belt but had to do so since everything above Punk's waist was just about immune to anything "The Ayatollah of Rock and Rollah" could throw at him.
Jericho is a master at his craft and could always be looked upon for intelligent, more adult fare in terms of storylines. This is no different.
His promo on Monday was a master stroke in a feud whic had little heat to begin with.