Wednesday, July 27, 2011

So C.M. Punk is Back Already. Now What?

Well, that happened much quicker than I expected.

Monday on RAW, John Cena won the "WWE Championship" from Rey Mysterio, the same "Championship" Rey won just two hours earlier. After the match, C.M. Punk came out and had a stare down with John Cena to close RAW. Punk came out to "Cult of Personality" by Living Colour. It's a great song and fits perfectly for everything Punk stands for now. It was also his theme during his "Summer of Punk" run in Ring of Honor. Again, as I said in my last piece, it is a great hook to attract viewers again next week.

First let me say that while it is great to see Punk back on TV, I do think it happened a tad bit too soon. I thought about him being off long term til Wrestlemania time, but that might have killed all the heat on Punk's character. I would have held him off til SummerSlam at least. I would have extended the Tournament over the course of last week and this week, then have the Finals at SummerSlam. Or, since John Cena didn't have a shot in the Tournament, have the winner be crowned "Champion" then face Cena at SummerSlam. While it may not have been an interesting match-up to the adults, John Cena vs Rey Mysterio would have drawn some interest and would be a fresh match-up. They had a good match on RAW, right at the *** level, and could have been better if given another 5 minutes. As far as Punk, you could simply have Triple H invite him to SummerSlam and there you have the intrigue of Punk showing up. Punk comes out after Cena wins with the belt, then you have Cena vs Punk at Night of Champions Now I will admit I would be a bit biased their because Night of Champions is in Buffalo, and I would get to see Punk/Cena 2 live in person. But I also think it would fit the storyline better.

But nonetheless, C.M. Punk appears back now and it looks like we are getting Punk/Cena 2 at SummerSlam. It seems a bit rushed yes, but it is the biggest $$$ match the WWE has right now. Like I said Cena/Rey might draw well on PPV but I don't think it would draw as much as a Cena/Punk rematch would. Those two put on a classic at Money in the Bank and people are interested to see what the two can do again. There's obviously also more backstory and a better storyline in place. Rey/Cena would have been nothing more than good guy vs good guy. In THAT story, no one would turn heel. But we'll get back to that later.

So now the question becomes: Where does this go next? I don't think any of us expected this story to unfold this quickly. We thought the WWE would crown a new "Champion" and that this guy would walk around with the Title until Punk returns in a few months. But everything has been accelerated. Why? Again, your guess is as good as mine. Maybe the WWE has panicked due to the low ratings these past two weeks, and want to get Punk done ASAP. I really don't think that's the case, but we have to think about it. Vince is a stickler for the ratings and he may want to change things up again. Who knows. I think what is more likely is that the WWE realizes what a hot commodity Punk is right now. Punk is the hottest character they have had in years. He's being cheered heavily by the adult males in the audience, and he's even winning over some of the other demographics like the woman and teen audience. He clearly got a much louder reaction than Cena on RAW. And it just wasn't the adult males cheering. If Punk was off of TV for too long, he would lose some momentum. Sure he could get it back quickly, but that reaction was pretty strong last night. I don't know if it would have been the same two, three, or six months from now.

C.M. Punk is exactly what the WWE has been missing for quite sometime: An anti-authority figure who is not afraid to speak his mind and believe that what he is doing is right. Sure the Nexus was anti-authority, but they weren't great all-around performers like Punk was. Punk speaks his mind brilliantly on the mic and backs up his talk with his great performances in the ring. Punk is what his shirt says he is, "The Best in the World." I would be hard pressed to find someone better right now. In the WWE, there is absolutely nobody. Punk connects with the adult fanbase who is been craving for an anti-authority figure for years. John Cena doesn't do it for them. They're sick of the same old crap from the WWE night in and night out. Finally, it seems like we may be going down that path. One can hope. You have to be cautiously optimistic with the WWE, as they have a reputation for dropping the ball in the past. That's why we have to examine every scenario here.

All signs point to a John Cena vs C.M. Punk match at SummerSlam. Or so we think. At this point, we don't even know why C.M. Punk is back. You would assume he is re-signed, but we don't know that officially. Punk/Cena 2 is the biggest $$$ match the WWE can do right now, and it fits perfectly with the 2nd biggest PPV of the year. Can these two repeat the same magic they had at MITB? Probably not. The Chicago crowd helped that match a bit, I don't think the Los Angeles crowd will be as hot. But there's no reason they can't put on another **** match. They're quite capable of that.

You would also have to assume that if Punk is re-signed, Triple H had something to do with it. But Punk can't immediately side with him. The best part about Punk's character is that he is anti-authority. You don't want him joining up with the "Doofus Son-in-Law." Maybe in the beginning they could be buddy-buddy, but there needs to be a growing tension between the two building up. A Punk/HHH match also has the potential to be  very good. If anything, have Triple H say the only reason he re-signed Punk was to get the WWE Title back, and when he does Punk is gone. Then when it seems like no one can do it, Triple H decides to return himself to try and take out Punk. It'd be a great clash with Triple H weilding all his power to try and get the Title off of Punk. It could probably build to a boiling point at Royal Rumble perhaps. Then, if you really want to make things interesting, have HHH lose. Then, he says he has to bring back a guy he lost to last year but knows can get the job done, and that is The Undertaker. Then you have Punk/Taker at Wrestlemania. I don't think that part will actually happen, but it is fun to think about.

Then there's that other guy in the room: John Cena. I will be the first person to give Cena some credit. He's busted his ass the last two months, put on two really good matches (with Punk & Rey Mysterio), cut some good promos, and his facial reactions and expressions have been spot on, especially this week. Some people will tell you that they would like to see Cena turn heel. I'd be all for a heel turn, but at this point, what is the point. He's getting booed by a strong portion of the audience. That portion of the audience would probably cheer a Cena heel turn. The only way, in my opinion, they could pull a Cena heel turn off effectively is if they went the Stone Cold route a la Wrestlemania 17. Cena needs to be WWE Champ so badly that he resorts to everything possible to become Champ. Then finally, he sells out and sides with HHH, who helps him win the WWE Title back. It makes Punk stronger as well because now he has even more of a gripe about losing the WWE Title. Cena can than say that he gets booed yet guys who leave and comeback like Punk and The Rock get cheered, but he busts his ass in the ring night in and night out for nothing. That's the only way a Cena heel turn works.

Anyone who is bashing this angle right now is just too damn impatient. Do I think Punk was brought back a bit too soon? Absolutely. But we have NO IDEA where this angle is going. The same people who are bashing this now would be the same people 2 months from now who would be saying "WWE SUCKS WHERE IS C.M. PUNK?" The question you have to ask yourself is this: Would you rather have C.M. Punk on TV or not? I think everyone would gladly welcome Punk back with open arms. You also have to think that Punk wouldn't agree to come back unless they have something big in store for him. For Punk to go to wanting time off to what looks like back on the road full time means it will all be worth his while in the end. It looks like Punk will have his Indy buddies, most notably Colt Cabana, back on the road with him which will help. Punk knows the business and knows what is good for him, and he wouldn't have agreed to comeback if things didn't look bright down the line.

C.M. Punk just did a podcast with ESPN writer Bill Simmons. Hitting a couple of bulletpoints, Punk said that he re-signed the day of the Money in the Bank PPV. I find that a bit hard to believe. I would love to take Punk at his word, but all of this playing out as it has doesn't make me think that. This kind of stuff should be played out long term, not in the span of one week. Punk said he wants to make wrestling big time and cool again. It will be a tough climb to do that. Can he? It's possible. Punk comes off as genuine and sincere and sounds like he believes what he is saying. He's not corporate or dumb-downed for the TV audience. He's as real as they come. While Punk isn't a corporate, media friendly type, he can still be an attraction and draw money. Stone Cold wasn't the biggest media guy, but he was one of the biggest draws in WWE history.

I threw out a lot of ideas here and a lot of random thoughts. There really was only one central focus of this piece, and that is C.M. Punk. Punk has a lot of expectations to live up to. He's the hottest and most talked about wrestler in years. He has such a high ceiling. We know how great he is in the ring and on the mic, but now he has to be even better. I'm sure Vince and Company have put a lot of pressure on Punk to succeed. He needs to become a major draw the likes of which WWE hasn't seen in years. He needs to be the anti-authority figure John Cena isn't. He needs to continue to be himself, speak his mind, and kick ass.

I don't know where this angle is going. It's all about the unpredictability. All I know is C.M. Punk has given the WWE  a kick in the ass that it has badly needed for a year now. The more I see of C.M. Punk, the better it will be. I have faith, now I hope I'm not let down. But one thing is for sure: With C.M. Punk leading the charge, it is bound to be one hell of a ride.

Until next time,
Justin C
Follow me on Twitter @JCWonka

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