By: Shawn Davis
As someone who has a love/hate relationship with professional wrestling I have to say that CM Punk has held my interest over the last month. Yes, I am a fan and I have been since I was a child. Don’t any of you lie about being Hulkamaniacs…we all were at some point.
It’s something that I need to take time off from; just like a serious relationship, I guess. There have been years where I wasn’t interested in the product, at least in the WWE. I vividly remember hating the sport (It is a sport; have you seen what these athletes do to themselves?) in my teens when my favorite performer ever, Bret Hart, was getting dicked around by the company he carried while others left. After the Montreal Screwjob, WWE was part of my viewing when WCW Nitro was on commercial break so I still kept up with them, begrudgingly. Wrestling brings me back to my childhood and there are moments where I still feel like a kid when big moments take place. The only other thing comparable to giving me that feeling is watching clips of the Jordan-era Bulls. That’s the list and I love it for that.
The “hate” part comes from the fact that it’s a stale product. I say this because it wasn’t smart for Vince McMahon to buy WCW and then let it die, therefore killing the competition. For as much progress as they’ve made in the last few years, TNA isn’t a true rival. Having a rival helped the WWE to reach some of its heights, especially during the Attitude Era. Currently, the stories aren’t interesting because most of them are recycled plots that were used years ago.
Also, WWE has failed to make stars in the last few years. One of the reasons why fan reaction to John Cena is so mixed is because he’s been forced down their throats for the last 4 years. I’m a fan of his but there are times I grow tired of seeing him with one of the two main championship titles. Why is this the case? Money. Cena moves merchandise and that is never ignored – nor should it be – but creating new stars has been grotesquely overlooked. He’s also a tireless worker for the company and he represents the WWE brand with full loyalty.
Punk, on the other hand, definitely is a different type of star. He came into the company with a cult following (from his Ring of Honor days) so it was just a matter of whether the creative department would allow him to grow. After a few hiccups, he was allowed to show his personality – through his promos – and the train hit the tracks. He cemented his place in WWE lore when he cut a scathing promo that blurred the lines of reality. People were like wait, “Is this real?” I watched it and knew some of the background politics because I’ve been a fan for a long time but it was a bit surprising that they gave him a live microphone. Although they (WWE) cut his mic off at a time when he was really going for the jugular, he got a lot out.
From there the two squared off – in a rare, classic, match – for the WWE Championship at the Money In The Bank ppv last month, where Punk defeated Cena to become the new champion. Another fact that heightened the storyline was that Punk’s contract with the company ended that night, so he left with their belt. He returned to Raw one week later after Cena defeated Rey Mysterio to become WWE champ, again. Wasn’t it weird that the crowd reaction that Punk received when he returned was severely lacking the very next week on 8/1 when he and Cena shared the ring? So did I! Rushed. Then using H to squash him was really smart because H is so big that he won’t really be jeered; seems like Punk’s momentum is being burned out. Already.
Here’s where I’m going to go off track for a bit; stay with me. Another major issue with WWE is that they sometimes rush a story and therefore kill momentum (i.e., Nexus/Cena angle, Invasion angle, both New World Order angles, etc.) which will lead to disinterest. This story seems to be in the express lane. I know, I know that Summerslam (airing this evening) is the company’s 2nd biggest ppv, after Wrestlemania, but this is how they could have pulled it off. Remember this is just my opinion:
- Instead of having Punk’s return on the July 25th Raw episode, stretch it out. Have the Mysterio and Cena match as planned but before there can be a finish the lights to go out, both combatants are knocked out when the lights are turned back on, and the new title is stolen.
- For the next two weeks, you have CM Punk airing remote videos about WWE, Cena and Triple H; mockingly of course. Each time Triple H tries to have Cena and Mysterio fight for the new title, the belt gets stolen somehow, rendering the match pointless since they can’t crown a new champion without the belt that symbolizes said champ. Stephanie McMahon receives a letter, from Punk, stating that he’ll stop tormenting them after viewing his latest video where he destroys his belt and the others he stole.
- At Summerslam, Cena beats Mysterio – which I would have go the other way to bring Rey in the feud; just for a bit. Punk’s music hits but he never appears (keeping everyone on edge) and the show ends.
- No word from Punk, at all, as he goes completely dark on the WWE circuit but he still makes public appearances at other independent wrestling shows and other events.
- Cena, Miz and Mysterio feud over the belt for a few weeks, which causes Triple H to book the three of them in a 3-way match at Night of Champions on the Raw before the ppv (Sept 12th). As he’s telling Cena in the ring, he’s interrupted by Stephanie who announces that they have a new challenger for Cena at the ppv: Punk returns, with a new design to the championship belt (SORELY needed) to get the cheers that he got at the July 25th Raw and the show ends.
- Miz and Mysterio battle for the next title shot.
From here the story can have legs for Rock to enter when/if he’s able to appear around the time of Survivor Series. Also, you have Miz and Mysterio enter the fray to keep others circling the championship hunt.
It works because it has legs to pull in viewers without being stale or running its course too soon. But now we have Triple H as the special guest referee; an idea which I hate! (Mind you, he’s probably number 2 on my all-time favorite wrestler list; everyone is second to Bret Hart, in my book). Especially if it’s for the purpose of getting HHH over with the crowd; which is what my boys at lordsofpain.net think. I hope the story plays out in a way that’s unexpected because it has “someone-getting-screwed” all over it; any wrestling fan knows this already.
The element is intriguing – and bound to happen just because of the nature of the relationship between the three. It’s going to go another few months but I hope that Punk is given the platform to bring a freshness that’s sorely needed.
Fans and writers feel that Punk will issue in the next wrestling boom (80’s w/ Hulkamania, 90’s with Attitude Era, New World Order, ECW) and I’m not so sure. Punk’s push is being called the “Reality Era” and I’m not sold that it will be as huge as the other booms in the profession. I think people forget how POPULAR things were in the mid-to-late 90’s with defections between the companies, stables, boatloads of real stars, tag-team wrestling, the lighter weight classes and the greatest turn in wrestling history: Hulk Hogan to Hollywood Hogan! It was a magical time.
I don’t care if wrestling “booms” again but like Punk so eloquently stated on the BS Report a few weeks back, he just wants to make “this fun again.” That would make me love it again…until I hate it once more.