When WWE went to Chicago, Illinois, for an episode of Monday Night Raw back on Mar. 3, 2014, the powers that be knew they had to make a tough decision regarding how to handle the fact that CM Punk would not be there. He had left just over one month prior and this marked the first time the promotion was back in his hometown, where he is a local hero.
Ultimately, Punk's best friend within the industry, Paul Heyman, was chosen to go out -- using Punk's entrance theme and trademark Indian style sitting position in the ring -- and cut a promo blaming both the fans and Undertaker for taking Punk away from him. Because of that, at least in part, he was sending Brock Lesnar to WrestleMania 30 to break "The Phenom's" vaunted streak.
That little plot point has been forgotten since then, due mostly to WWE refusing to even acknowledge Punk's existence, but it was a brilliant little wrinkle at the time and a perfect way to handle a potentially unruly crowd.
For his part, Heyman recently told This Is Infamous that it was the "easiest interview I've ever done". Here's his explanation for it:
Because I knew the task at hand. Think about this. I didn't say one disparaging thing about CM Punk. It's because I have nothing disparaging to say about him. I said, "If CM Punk were in this ring tonight, he would prove to everyone that he is what he always claims to be: The best in the world." And I believe that to be true! I said everything about CM Punk that I felt in my heart and at the end of the day, we don't have that television show on the air to sing the praises of those who are not with us or just heap praise on people because we like them. The television show is a promotional vehicle to entice the audience to purchase the network or the individual pay-per-view. My task at hand is to elicit the response from the viewer that they find the Brock Lesnar versus Undertaker match compelling enough to purchase the pay-per-view or get involved with WWE Network to see the match. So when I went out in Chicago, I knew my responsibility was to sell you on Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker any way that I had to, which included sitting there for the first ten minutes and discussing the 800-pound elephant in the room, which is why CM Punk wasn't appearing in his hometown. ... As a performer, to get the opportunity to come out in Chicago to CM Punk's music and to sit down Punk-style in the ring, and tell the true intimate story of this Paul Heyman guy, while I'm doing my job promoting Brock versus Undertaker is the greatest professional high you can offer me.
There's much more to the interview and I encourage you to go read it by clicking here.
In essence, Heyman, being the brilliant performer and public speaker that he is, flipped the audience on its head and took all the rage/sadness/longing they felt for Punk and transferred it, as best he could, to desire to watch Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar.
You have to appreciate the man's efforts here, no?