WWE did what it had to do at Chicago: It owned C.M. Punk’s absence.
Paul Heyman came out and took the blame by placing blame. His promo was brilliant. Heyman was the only guy that could pull it off.
Heyman’s “pipe bomb” segued into a wrestling promo, which segued into a wrestling angle. Before you knew it, a wrestling crowd showed up. They exercised their self-perceived cool quotient by continuing to chant Punk’s name. But they chanted for the Usos. They popped for a tag-team title change. The fans are marks for Cesaro. They popped for him. They popped for Shield-Wyatts.
And life goes on.
WWE owns you. There just aren’t as many of you as there used to be.
But it doesn’t matter. Even though every barometer possible shows that interest in WWE is down, WWE has leveraged business to the point where it doesn’t matter. The WWE Network sucks out every last dollar from the true believers. The new television deal is going to put TV revenue through the roof.
Everybody in Chicago paid for their ticket. WWE 1, marks 0. The only things that got hijacked were your wallets and credit cards. Chanting “C.M. Punk” during slow points does not constitute “taking over.”
I respect Punk for taking a stand, and I’m not even sure what he took a stand for.
I do know that Vince McMahon has not yet addressed the subject of adjusting performer compensation now that PPV bonuses have been minimized by the WWE Network. Here’s an educated guess: The John Cenas and Randy Ortons – the very top guys – get their downside guarantees increased. Everyone else can go screw. You’re on TV. You’re living the dream. Just take what we give you and be happy.
McMahon’s failure to address this should be a big story. The lack of concern shown by WWE’s performers and by wrestling “journalists” is astounding.
I love the Wyatts. I’m not sure what to think about The Shield’s breakup. It’s being done in the most clichéd, formulaic way possible. But it’s also tried and true.
I love the interplay between HHH/Steph and Daniel Bryan. When Steph says, “We don’t listen to these people,” she’s not lying. The truth slips out. Excellent calculation by the McMahons: The fans can’t chant “C.M. Punk” and “Yes!” at the same time. If they hijack Raw on Bryan’s behalf, they can’t do it for Punk.
It’s good to see Paul Bearer go into the WWE Hall of Fame. It would have been better had it happened when he was alive. Inducting Bill Moody now is like Bill Murray eulogizing Harold Ramis at the Oscars after not talking to him for 20 years. Is Moody’s memory being honored, or merely patronized?
Cena has marbles. He shut up before cutting his promo, clearing room for the “C.M. Punk” chant. He talked…then cleared room again. Then he put Chicago over for its energy and passion. It wasn’t long before Allstate Arena was cheering him, however halfhearted. Cena plays the game better than anyone.
I’m surprised they didn’t play “Cult of Personality” and trot out Gillberg.
Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkMaddenX