Monday, July 25, 2011

The Mercy Side: CM Punk - Legitimate World Champion

Hey everyone, after six months of non-stop music writing I bet you all forgot I'm a wrestling fan! But seriously though, anyone who watched the Money in the Bank pay-per-view on last Sunday saw one of the most amazing wrestling programs in a long time. I wanted to write about this earlier last week but I had to finish of my commitment to the Noughtie series.

I've been a fan of wrestling for around ten years now, and I honestly can't say I've seen a better pay-per-view from start to finish. The work put into that PPV, from the top, Vince McMahon and Triple H, John Laurinaitis, to the booking of anyone else involved in that side of things, and most importantly, the wrestlers. Everyone gave their all on last Sunday, and while some people were limited (Mark Henry, Kelly Kelly), they still put their all into it and produced a memorable night of wrestling/sports entertainment. Now I'm not going to place it in any list of amazing PPVs in the history of this business, for the moment I'm a bit fed up of listings, I'm here to talk about CM Punk, and the history he made on last Sunday night.

I found this picture on a Google search, I don't know if it's legitimate.

Now, I'm going to set something straight here. I'm not going to just kiss CM Punks ass in this article for a couple of thousand words. I want to put a perspective on the guy, one that you may or may not have thought of. It is my opinion that on Sunday, CM Punk became what I call a legitimate world champion. What, he's won the title four times right? He was already one before hand Johnny Mercyside! Not in my eyes he wasn't. Now before you scroll down to the bottom of the page and rip me in the comments section, hear me out.

CM Punk is now a four-time champion, a six time if you include his reigns as WWECW and ROH champion. Now, I'm going to piss off a lot of the Internet Wrestling Community off by disregarding the ROH title reign straight away. Like it or not, and the same applies to TNA, WWE is the top. It is the crème de la crème. I'm not saying that the people in the WWE are the most gifted wrestlers in the world. I'd be a fool to suggest that. You have AJ Styles, Daniels, Samoa Joe, Shelton Benjamin, Jack Evans, Low Ki, Charlie Haas and Austin Aries who are all phenomenal athletes in different ways and don't currently work for WWE. But…. TNA is not on par with WWE now. It just isn't the same as the nineties wars. I'm sorry TNA fans. There were legitimate world champions in WCW. The only person in TNA I can possibly name in the same bracket is possibly AJ Styles. He has become a magnificent diamond in the centre of TNA, and has definitely contributed to the growth of TNA worldwide in a major way. But it takes more than natural talent to become a legitimate world champion. Or at least in my eyes you do.

Hulk Hogan. Randy Savage. Ric Flair. The Undertaker. Sting. Bret Hart. Shawn Michaels. Steve Austin. The Rock. Goldberg. Triple H. Kurt Angle. John Cena. Edge. Randy Orton. Batista. There's a lot more, definitely before the wrestling boom of the eighties, but that covers a good portion of the recent ones. I'd say all the names above are legitimate world champions. There are many, many, people not on the list that are more talented.  Hulk Hogan's Leg Drop isn't the deadliest finisher in the world. John Cena's moveset does feel limited sometimes. Goldberg made a career of destroying other's careers for his own selfish motives in WCW. But all the people above, can all say they contributed to the gain of the WWE, or WCW in Sting's case, and a few others who had greater success there. They brought in a new audience, and the people that were already watching were licking their lips in awe.

Just in case you still don't understand what I'm getting at here, the names above can all turn heads in wrestling. They can get fans attention. They can, as Eric Bischoff puts it, put asses in seats. They draw fans to the product. And as flashy as some of the smaller named guys are, and seriously, I genuinely love some of those guys, they aren't going to do that all the time. They aren't the 'diamond'. Hulk Hogan is arguably the reason wrestling is on the map today, combined with Vince McMahon's vision; they are both responsible for the way things have evolved for the past thirty years. And yes, Hogan has become a stupid senile man who is tarnishing his legacy in TNA. But in the eighties, before I was born, it was all different. Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan had epic battles. It was the in ring storyline, combined with the out of the ring storyline, that created one of the best feuds of all time. I could easily name big 'moments' for all the above wrestlers, but it should be common knowledge and if you want to know their history, look it up.

There are names that are omitted from that list. One is Eddie Guerrero. A fantabulous wrestler. An amazing talent on the mic. But... did he really contribute a great deal for the WWE? Yes, I am talking about financial gain, but there is more than that too. There's the longevity, there's the consistency, there's face value, there's the dependency. That last one is arguably the most important. Eddie only won the title once remember. And can you argue they could trust their product with Eddie Guerrero? Did he have a long and luxurious title reign? I can’t say they felt they could trust him. Rest in peace dude. The same can be said about Chris Benoit. I don't think the company got to the point where they can make the guy their 'face' guy. And then he did what he did... and the rest doesn't need to be brought up.
Okay, let's try a current wrestler - Rey Mysterio. I don't see Rey in that light either. I love seeing Rey flying in the ring night after night. In the nineties there was genuinely no one like him. And he is a two-time champion. The company booking BOTH his title reigns badly suggests they don't quite like the idea of putting the title on the little man. Rey has made a lot of money for both the WWE and himself with his mask sales, his fantastic fanbase in his home country of Mexico, and his appeal to small children. But can Rey make the company and the wrestling fanbase bow to his feet? I don't think so. And what of Chris Jericho, six time champion? Well, he's my favourite wrestler. But as he really contributed significantly to the growth of the business? He's definitely one of the most all-round gifted athletes, and has helped the careers of many others, but contribute to the growth of the business dramatically? I'm not really sure.

CM Punk is a four-time champion. His three previous title reigns were quite poor. His first one, he beat Edge, and then wasn't book greatly for two months before getting punted by Randy Orton, making him vacate the title. His second and third title reigns are sandwiched between Jeff Hardy's title reign. While the feud was fantastic (best feud of the year) there was no star making moments involved. Jeff did a great Swanton Bomb off the ladder through the announce table, but did anyone's stock rise at all? Did the WWE point at this and go - this is raising people's eyebrows and will gain positive attention? It didn't accelerate interest in the product unfortunately.

And in one month, CM Punk has done just that. Has his contract genuinely run out, or are the rumours true about it actually running out in September? If it's the former, has he signed a new contract? No one knows. His promo from a few weeks back has been hailed as the best promo in ten years. It was a truly flash to a time where promos were often like that, in the Attitude Era. CM Punk was doing what arguably no member of the current roster can do at present, and that is turn heads.

Is it true that CM Punk was asked for interviews with ESPN, and other major sports media outlets? Who knows, but I wouldn't be surprised. Did his stock rise in the past month? In Stone Cold's words, oh hell yeah. And he did it in a way that you can argue is old school, he said controversial things. And it was all in PG. Yes he said ass, yes he said other offensive things. But he didn't swear. He didn't beat Cena until he bled. He cut a fantastically edgy promo, one that had many truths in it. It was a worked shoot. He created this brilliant dilemma for Vince McMahon with the WWE title. He raised major interest in WWE Ice Cream bars being resurrected. He made marks love him, despite being a heel, something that is also difficult to do nowadays. The dilemma he made with the title probably caught the attention of so many people who aren't necessarily regular WWE fans. Punk said, "ESPN and Kimmel are ringing my phone off the hook for a story". He was probably telling the truth. I bet so many people caught wind of what happened, people who aren't major wrestling fans, and wanted to know what the hell was going to go down on Sunday. I really want to know what the buyrate was for MITB.

The funny thing is, most importantly, CM Punk has single handedly made the WWE title important again, something that hasn't been done in such a long time. Him taking the title out of the WWE has made for some fantastic television. 'What is this rebel going to do next?', people will question. I hope Raw views go up. If it does, CM Punk is responsible for that. And bringing the title to Comic Con, and then to an indy show, is really selling the idea that he is unemployed, and is acting on behalf of WWE. Of course I don’t know for sure, but based on the evidence provided in the past month, you’d assume he has signed that contract.

CM Punk has finally become a legitimate world champion. In a nutshell, the fact that CM Punk can draw makes him a legitimate world champion. There were question marks over his ability to draw, there were question marks over his ability to be  a star in WWE, despite his great natural talent. He has been bitching about not getting the opportunity of showing what he is capable of when given the spotlight, and rightfully so. The WWE gave him the torch, and he set fire to the WWE. Look how it's paid off. CM Punk is the crown jewel in the hottest wrestling angle for years. The moments that are currently taking place on our screens in the last few weeks will live in the memory. Austin 3:16 Promo. Hulk slamming Andre. Montreal Screwjob. DX invading WCW. And now, the fantastic promos. The brilliant wrestling match with John Cena. The kick to Alberto Del Rio. The kiss to Vince McMahon on the ramp. Running through the Chicago home crowd, stealing the title. Yes, CM Punk taking the title from right under Vince McMahon's nose will be remembered as an OMG moment in the history of this wrestling business.
Do you agree with me? Disagree? Am I being too harsh on TNA and ROH? How about the other wrestlers I didn't include in the list? Let me know what you think of this article below. Thanks for reading.

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