Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What a Rush!

"Rush" is a word I keep hearing today, at first I thought we were going to listen to Moving Pictures, but it turns out, it's just wrestling fans finding something to complain about mere hours after it happened. Shocking, I know.

Today's gripe is that CM Punk was brought back too quickly and his huge storyline, arguably the biggest thing WWE's done in years, is being rushed. Admittedly, things seem to be moving quickly and WWE certainly took a roundabout way to get to a CM Punk/John Cena rematch, but I think there's more than meets the eye here and I have no doubt Punk will make it work the next time he has a microphone in his hands.

John Cena vs. CM Punk is obviously the plan and that's clearly a SummerSlam main event. I wouldn't have minded Rey vs. Cena, but if the Punk story is WWE's current centerpiece, you don't do that on a B-show, it has SummerSlam written all over it.

But is the SummerSlam main event the endpoint? I have my doubts and I have two theories about what's really going on here:

1. CM Punk is about to become the elusive "next big thing."

I hesitate to compare him to anyone because he's better than that, but CM Punk is in a very similar position as Steve Austin was in 1997. Now, Austin was kept off a few shows because of his injury at SummerSlam, but WWE realized they had something huge on their hands and kept him on TV as much as they could. Sound familiar?

There are a lot of eerie similarities between the summer of 97 and today: there was a shake-up in the presented authority figures, commissioners and presidents were getting phased out in favor of Vince McMahon, now Vince and the Raw G?M are being phased out in favor of Triple H. A rebellious antihero managed to tap into the zeitgeist and connect with the mood of the audience, despite doing things that should've been taboo for a good guy; Stone Cold acted like a bad guy, CM Punk threatened to leave with the WWE Title, yet both men were cheered for these moves. And perhaps most importantly of all, something just felt different. In 1997, Steve Austin was very real in an environment of unbelievable, cartoonish heroes and villains. In 2011, CM Punk stands out among a cast of vanilla "that guys."

So has WWE found the guy they've been looking for since running with John Cena? You always should prepare for the future and could Punk be the guy that may not get a torch passed to him, but demands his chance to hold it? It's certainly possible, unless...

2. CM Punk is leaving WWE.

Wait, what? Didn't we just get over this?

The whole story seems to at least be an homage to the "Summer of Punk" in Ring of Honor, right? Punk signed with WWE, won the ROH Title, threatened to take it with him, but wound up staying for two more months? Didn't he also start using Living Colour's "Cult of Personality" then too? Well, who says that part of the story is over? What if Punk winning the title and leaving for eight days was just a red herring? What if Punk's real last match as WWE Champion is in August, just like his final match as ROH Champion? Perhaps then CM Punk takes that vacation and builds interest for a big return... or simply rides off into the sunset?

That's the beauty of this story, it can go in any direction because Punk will keep you guessing and we'll keep falling for it, because we want to be lied to. So while people are complaining that WWE is rushing this storyline, they may not realize that we're already in Act 3.


  1. I have to disagree with you about this storyline being rushed. I think for the most part it's right where it needs to be.

    I've been saying for years, WWE needs to start taking risks again. When the product was better...you could take more time to build-up.

    I have quite a few friends who have started watching wrestling again because of Punk. When you have this kind of reception, this amount of interested generated you need to have that guy on TV as much as possible.

    I do agree that this situation with Punk looks very much like '97 and Punk is primed to do big things...to be the leader of a new era.

    He's the one people are tuning in to see! Let's shoot him to the moon and see how far he can go!


  2. Do you remember Steve Austin's induction video for the hall of fame... if you don't, I advise you to skip to the second minute of this video:


    Now think about that in the context of this post.

  3. I meant exact 2:00 in that video.

  4. @Lorraine - I don't necessarily agree that it's "rushed" either. WWE took a weird route to get to another Cena vs. Punk match though, if that is the goal, they certainly didn't need the tournament pageantry.

    @MC - Yeah. Even though Punk used the song in ROH, I don't think the Austin comparison is just a coincidence.

  5. I had just remembered that when they announced Stone Cold was going into the Hall... they played that song on Raw, and its repetition for Punk in the WWE, despite the ROH connection seemed to be consistent with the Stone Cold connection.

  6. It may have been rushed a little, but I think that may have come from the lack of quality TV the past two weeks that he was off. Plus the decision to place the "belt" back on Cena in Punk's absence, I know I for one felt that the WWE had just spat on the past few weeks of story by doing that. And thus CM Punk needed to return to keep interest in this story and not lose people with a watered down and weakened Raw. Let's be honest with ourselves for a moment, who other than Cena and Punk are in a position to take the lead on Monday? Where here are many talented guys on that roster, none have been built into a sustainable character for the long haul, and it would have made for some pretty boring TV and a sad selling PPV if something wasn't brought along. I just hope WWE doesn't fumble this story as they have before and that they also take this time to usher in some new stars and give some of these guys on the precipice the push and break needed to send their star rising.

  7. From the sounds of his interview on ESPN, CM Punk is in it for the long haul and that the turnaround of eight days should make sense next week on Raw.

    I have faith in him. People tend to forget when it comes to wrestling that the best TV is based on cliffhangers. If he'd explained everything there and then to Cena on Monday, the moment would have been ruined.

  8. I wrote about this in my blog. Whilst I did miss Punk, I felt that he should have waited a bit longer before his return. I also wrote that Cena vs Punk would be a great main event for Night of Champions. However, I agree with you that it is clearly a Summerslam main event. If it was me, I would make it a ladder match (like WM10 between Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels) but, with the WWE now having themed PPVs, it probably won't be.