This past Monday’s RAW sat awkwardly with me. I still can’t help that the show feels a little lost without a clear direction. Apart from an excellent Anger Management segment which had me giggling and a semi-ok promo from Triple H there wasn’t really much to get excited for.
We are on the verge of a massive match at the next PPV with John Cena and CM Punk battling it out over the WWE Championship, and do we care? The crowd don’t really sound like they are.
I wanted to avoid talking purely about Punk’s character again as it feels like I’m running over old ground but to be fair there wasn’t really much else happening on RAW to develop future rivalries.
CM Punk’s new character direction as I have said in previous articles, left people sitting on their hands. No matter how many times Punk smashes John Cena OR Jerry Lawler in the head; he isn’t going to get booed. He also isn’t going to get cheered because he keeps performing heel tactics.
Punk is without doubt in this situation getting the wrong end of a bad deal. WWE didn’t have the guts to turn John Cena in to a heel character so they have gone with the nearest option and I don’t think fans are buying it.
Punk is naturally charismatic and when he talks, he usually makes sense. He connects with the fans. After all, he called himself the ‘Voice of the Voiceless’ for a reason. The story also interlinks with something that fans can relate too, Punk has not been treated like a champion. So why can’t we still have an edginess to this story like we did going in to Money in the Bank last year? Instead we have Punk pulling heel moves that people don’t really have a reaction for and Cena is acting like the usual kingpin making statements like “If you beat me then that will define your existence!?”
For some reason, that comment felt more of a heel comment than anything Punk has said in recent weeks.
WWE are handicapping Punk because they are telling him to act differently than he actually is. Granted, this is something that all wrestlers have to do but we all know that wrestlers go from being ‘good’ to ‘great’ when the character they portray becomes a natural extension of their own character. CM Punk conquered this feat last summer when he broke the glass ceiling in WWE and became himself on screen.
Now we have a CM Punk that feels forced and manufactured. People see this and aren’t buying it. Similar to how people react to John Cena. People are fed up with the Cena character because it’s gone stale and because he doesn’t act like any other rational human being. Cena doesn’t feel like a natural progression of his own personality, he feels like a Make-A-Wish merchandising machine.
Now I will never knock the work that John Cena does outside of the wrestling ring and the happiness he brings to suffering children but at the end of the day the one thing WWE is supposed to be is a Wrestling Company. That focus has now changed. WWE has put everything else before the thing it directly stands for. WWE is now an entertainment company before a professional wrestling organisation; it puts celebrities and stars before the talent it has nurtured. Not in an effort to make their own stars look good but to try and look like WWE is sociably acceptable and popular within today’s media.
Last summer Punk was the catalyst for WWE to try and become its own entity again. Punk made statements saying that he is here to make this fun again. He acted as himself and gave WWE a firm reality within its storytelling. It also gave traditional wrestling fans a feeling of being wanted. Cena could continue his run as the face of the company but Punk was the traditionalist’s hero. He proved that WWE could still be the wrestling company we wanted and deserve without having to go against any of its ‘new’ initiatives.
Now we watch a Punk character that is far from that but could so easily revert back to this character. I’m not saying that Punk as a heel won’t work or that Punk needs to turn babyface again but all the cards are in place to make this story epic. WWE can rekindle this storyline and create something that stands out like they did over 12 months ago. But instead, I worry that were getting CM Punk Lite and WWE just wants to keep Cena and the current system running for as long as possible before all the kids grow up or before we all turn our TV’s off.
WWE isn’t falling apart, far from it. But WWE aren’t setting the world on fire either. Maybe we will turn round in a few months and this entire story needed to happen as a catalyst for better things in the future. I just hope that we are being taken through this current story for a better purpose down the line.
Let Punk become what he can fully be and let Cena be a character that appears human. I’m not saying it has to be a face versus face battle but that’s ultimately got to be better than a heel versus heel mentality because at the moment it feels like fans will be cheering for Punk at Night of Champions, not because he’s face but because they don’t want to cheer Cena and don’t have any other option.
Ultimately time will tell as always, but something good needs to happen this week on RAW. Not just for the next PPV but to really give Punk some clear direction.
At least we will have another Anger Management segment to look forward to.
Don’t forget to catch Virtually Reality on the Voice of Wrestling Network (www.vowlive.com) every Sunday as myself and fellow WrestleZone columnist Adam Gorzelsky break down all aspects of Professional Wrestling and find new ways to insult each other!