The night after WWE‘s Summerslam event, CM Punk stormed the ring asking for a fight. Curtis Axel obliged, with Paul Heyman following at a distance, as he proceeded toward the ring and took the fight to the former champion.
Punk and Axel brawled all around the ring before the WWE teased another confrontation with Heyman yet again. The segment would end with Punk nailing Axel with his GTS finisher, while Heyman watched from the top of the entrance ramp.
For the moment, it looked as if the WWE could have been heading toward an even matchup between Punk and Axel for the latter’s Intercontinental championship. While Punk would bring relevance to the title, putting the belt on the line would take away from the story the WWE is attempting to tell – Heyman turning on his protegé, Punk, at Money in the Bank and the fallout since.
Monday night, the story got back to how it should be, as Punk took on Axel with an opportunity to get in the ring with Heyman if he won. Things quickly turned for the worse as Punk got the victory and Heyman received an escort to the ring. Instead of Punk beating down Heyman, Axel made the save again, nailing the “Best in the World” with a low blow before handcuffing his hands behind his back. Heyman would berate Punk with slaps to the face and repeated blows to the chest with a kendo stick.
It was a brutal beating, but led to Punk requesting a match with Heyman at Night of Champions. General manager Brad Maddox eventually granted Axel and Heyman versus Punk in a 2-on-1 handicap match at the pay-per-view.
In short, focusing on Heyman and Punk is the correct option for WWE, while leaving the belt on Axel for the time being.