CM Punk has been gone from WWE for a very long time now. In January of 2014, The Second City Saint finally decided that he had enough of Vince McMahon, Triple H, and WWE in general, and walked out on the industry he loved for the majority of his life. Despite that happening long ago, there is still a large chunk of the WWE Universe that hopes and prays that Punk will surprise us all and come striding through that curtain on Raw one night. Never say never, and one day that might happen, but if it's going to, it's still a long way off. What WWE wants right now is a Superstar who can replace CM Punk. They could use a man very much like the former WWE Champion so that he will distract the fans from the absence of Punk, but not so much that they wind up on the same road as they did with The Straight Edge Superstar. They may very well have found that in Aleister Black.
For those of you reading that are not well versed in NXT, Aleister Black is a Dutch Superstar who is currently taking the company's third brand by storm. Previously known as Tommy End on the independent circuit, Black has been performing since 2002 and has been extremely well received by fans at Full Sail. His martial arts background gives him an extremely hard-hitting, entertaining, and unique style in the ring that has fans gripped to his every move. He hasn't been in NXT long, but he is destined for bigger and better things within WWE.
There's one very obvious reason as to why Aleister is being directly compared to CM Punk, and that's his look. When Punk arrived in WWE, he brought a certain appearance along with him that was out of the ordinary for a pro wrestler. He had a lot of tattoos as well as a certain lifestyle that he introduced to WWE that fans weren't used to seeing in that realm. Black is absolutely covered in tattoos as you can see from the photos. Recently on NXT, the Dutch Superstar began to explain the meaning behind some of them too, before he was interrupted by The Velveteen Dream.
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There is a lot more to Black than tattoos and martial arts though, and quite a few reasons as to why WWE would prefer Aleister to take Punk's place rather than bring back the Chicago native. Perhaps most notably is how much talking Black does. So far in NXT, we have heard the new Superstar's voice just once, and that was extremely recently. Plus, when he did talk he briefly spoke about himself and what he's setting out to do in NXT. The main thing that got Punk over with the fans was his ability on the mic, but it was that aspect of his character that had the powers that be backstage wishing they could get rid of him. Punk would say exactly what he thought about WWE and its employees, so much so that it was to his detriment. It would appear that Black is going to let his in-ring work do the talking for him.
What WWE can also make sure of is that Aleister Black doesn't become the loose cannon that CM Punk did once he got a sniff of the big time. When Punk rose up through the ranks NXT didn't exist. Instead, the former Ring Of Honor star honed his craft for WWE in the company's less impressive developmental territories. It was there that Paul Heyman got in his ear and told Punk exactly how much potential that he had. An argument could be made that if Heyman hadn't been around to push and provoke Punk then he would never have become the pain in the ass that he did for Vince McMahon years later. NXT is monitored a lot more closely than the likes of OVW and FCW ever were, plus Triple H is the man in charge of it all. The Game wasn't Punk's biggest fan, so any of his less favorable tendencies shown by Black will likely be extinguished pretty quickly.
Basically, the reason WWE may get so high on Aleister Black in the coming months and years is because they may actually have a version of CM Punk that they can mold in their image. A WWE shaped CM Punk 2.0 that will finally put a stop to those pesky Punk chants that have followed the company around even after the fan favorite has long gone. As long as WWE doesn't look at Black and simply think "he kicks and he has tattoos, he can be the new Punk" then they may be on to something, because it will take a lot more than that to make Punk's most hardcore fans stop wishing that their hero will return one day.