It's time to give credit where it's due: WWE worked us all, and the creative powers that be, both the decision makers and performers who carried out their wishes, did a masterful job of dealing with CM Punk on last night's (March 3, 2014) episode of Monday Night Raw at the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois.
Amidst heavy rumors the hometown hero would be returning to the company he walked out on just over one month ago, WWE carefully crafted a show with a script that never once included "The Straight Edge Superstar." That's according to PWInsider.com, who notes that while it was possible all the way up until Monday that a miracle would happen, Punk was never actually put into the plans.
They did, however, move some things around to help deal with and take advantage of his absence.
That includes bringing out Paul Heyman to cut a promo tying Punk's sabbatical into his loss to Undertaker at WrestleMania 29 last year. It started his downfall, and now, all these months later, he's gone. Heyman wants his own personal revenge for that, so he's sending Brock Lesnar to finish the job at WrestleMania 30.
They also left a subtle tease that Punk might actually show up by the time the evening was over, giving fans both a reason not to completely hijack the show with chants as they had apparently planned to do -- and the audience's efforts were decidedly tame throughout the evening -- and incentive to tune in until Raw went off the air.
They knew all along that they would fade to black without Punk having been a part of the evening's festivities.
For those wondering, Dave Meltzer, who had reported previously that he was told by a major name in the business that Punk's return was all but certain, revealed on Wrestling Observer Radio that his source said he was outright lied to.
So, again, we were worked.
Like Punk himself said before leaving:
The view never changes.— Coach (@CMPunk) January 26, 2014