It’s not too often World Wrestling Entertainment’s paint-by-numbers, predictable booking completely baffles me but the build to Sunday’s match between Chris Jericho and the returning CM Punk has me scratching my head.

The lead-up to Sunday’s WWE Payback match has all the making of a bait and switch; it has essentially been set up for Punk to no show and start a conflict between Paul Heyman and Punk.

It’s all there. Heyman agrees to a match with Jericho without being in regular contact with Punk, Punk no-shows because he didn’t even know he was booked. When Punk eventually does return, he’s mad at Heyman for trying to control him, Punk gets the babyface turn he’s been prepped for, Heyman can move onto new “clients” or focus more attention on Curtis Axel, done and done. has even teased it in their WWE Payback preview:

As for Punk … who knows? Maybe he’ll show up at Payback. Maybe he’ll show up before then. And, of course, maybe he won’t. Maybe Jericho’s counting on that, of exposing the man who humbled him on the highest pedestal of their shared profession as a broken man; of being able to defeat him simply by way of his absence.

Imagine that, if Chris Jericho could beat CM Punk without throwing a single punch. Now that would really be payback.

There’s only problem, I don’t think they can have Punk no-show an advertised pay-per-view match in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois. They just can’t. That’s way too ballsy of a move for the WWE and frankly it’d be disastrous for the live crowd that will be anticipating Punk’s arrival. Sure, you’d get heat on Heyman and possibly Punk but it wouldn’t be good heat. That Chicago crowd, on a pay-per-view night, will be far too pumped up to let the air out like that.

Moreover, as rumors swirl that not only will Punk be at Sunday’s Payback but he will debut a brand new theme song courtesy of Rancid. There is little doubt that he WILL show up at Payback, but why have we danced around the subject so much?

I do just not understand the build here. I get the idea that we’re suppose to pay for the PPV to see Punk’s return, but why do I care enough to buy the PPV? Why don’t I just wait until Raw the next night?

From a purely in-ring standpoint, any time you see Punk/Jericho it’s usually a treat, but I’m still left wondering what the conflict is.

The build has made Heyman the antagonist, Jericho the dickish face and Punk the…. I do not know. Punk’s going to get cheered, there’s nothing the WWE can do, so is this all a way to separate Punk from Heyman?

It makes sense but what then becomes of the match? Does Punk come out, argue with Heyman and lose the match? They break up on Raw or in a few months? Do they break up before the beginning of the match and Punk/Jericho still fight, why would he fight Jericho if he was pissed about Heyman making him fight.

Punk doesn’t HAVE to fight, so what’s going to make him fight? Why would he?

Too many questions! With that being said, I’m pretty intrigued. The article’s tone may not give you that impression but I really am. I like not knowing what WWE is going to do, I like going into a pay-per-view with more questions than answers.

The key to Payback’s Punk/Jericho match is if we come out with answers.

(Also, the Rancid theme better be able to top Cult of Personality. It’s a lofty expectation to meet. )