.....so the question becomes how long until he makes his return? Are we talking months? The first PPV of the year?
Forgive me.....for once, I found myself in the middle of the column instead of the beginning. Let me explain my thought processes to begin as I have.
In September of 1993, WWF's Intercontinental Title was held by Shawn Michaels. In events surrounding that time, performance enhancing drugs were beginning to gain some visibility and gave professional wrestling a bad rap in the court of public opinion. To complicate matters, WWF suspended Michaels for allegedly testing positive for steroids, a charge he still disputes. Subsequently, Michaels quit, forcing the WWF of the day into the precarious position of having to cast a new belt for the promotion.
Within two months, in his absence, Razor Ramon won the newly cast title and began the storied rivalry with Michaels, who had rejoined the WWF by that time. Since HBK had never been defeated in ring for the belt, it was decided that Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels would face one another in a Ladder Match to determine the undisputed Intercontinental Champion. In a match that would go down in history as one of the greatest of all, Michaels lost to Razor Ramon at Wrestlemania X.
In August of 2011, CM Punk made a 7 minute long symphony of poetic prose at the top of the ramp a week before SummerSlam. He threatened to defend the belt he would go on to win in ROH or Japan, but only two short weeks later, he was back to working in ring at WWE live events and on TV, removing the white hot embers from the kiln prematurely, thus beginning a horrid downward spiral I've already covered in painstaking detail.
In a blending of the two storylines, AJ Styles has "left" TNA, taking the World Heavyweight Title with him. Since this story is the marriage of two storylines; one history would call monumental and the other suspect, it remains to be seen the result. Which is where this column began....so the question becomes how long until he makes his return? Are we talking months? The first PPV of the year?
One reason for the return of CM Punk is that WWE Creative felt the roster was too thin on face characters and so, after a not so highly publicized run in between Triple H and Punk at a Comic-Con, Punk returned to television the following week. Since TNA's roster doesn't have the depth as the WWE roster of 2011, the story differs, but only in the way of perspective. WWE HAD the personnel to fill the gaps, but in the revolving door of writers that came and went, the ball was dropped and it became apparent that WWE was in trouble because nothing had been lined up in the short term to account for the loss.
TNA is not WWE and during the past 3 years, Eric Bischoff and the Creative team had two separate plans written in advance. These plans were dependent upon Styles' willingness to re-sign with the company. Since he was willing to sign a short term extension leading into the first part of 2014, plan A went into action, seeing the return of Anderson to cost Bully Ray his rematch, allowing for Styles to follow through with plans that CM Punk was never able to make good on. In most recent news, TNA is looking to send AJ to AAA in Mexico, and to Japan, and defend the title elsewhere as Punk SHOULD have. As of yet, however, there is no timeline that has been revealed to when AJ Styles will return to challenge the newly "vacated" World Heavyweight Title holder.
What stipulations does TNA put on the Champion vs. Champion bout upon Styles' return? I, for one, am anxious for what the future holds for the coming months as it relates to that very question. To me, the blending of these two storylines, in particular, is something special. Why? Because it allows for a history to be rewritten in the equivalent language of a "what if?" scenario. Let's be blunt, Punk can't hang with Styles in ring, but this is where proper planning will allow Styles to shore up the edge Punk DOES have on mic.