Finally, The Belt Means Something; Dump The Part-Timers?

Mark Madden

FINALLY, THE BELT MEANS SOMETHING

C.M. Punk has signed a new WWE deal. He’s not coming back for a while – maybe QUITE a while – but the Money in the Bank main event between John Cena and Punk would not have ended as it did were Punk not contractually committed.

Was the crazed reaction at MITB for Punk the wrestler, or for the angle? Would it have happened anywhere besides Chicago, Punk’s hometown? Is this a passing phenomenon, or can WWE make money with Punk, presumably as a Steve Austin-style anti-authority babyface upon his return?

I believe in Punk. But does McMahon? He’s not McMahon’s idea of a main-event guy. Punk might get the big shove when he returns (not ‘til sometime next year, I bet), but will WWE go ALL THE WAY with Punk…or ditch Punk’s push if the heat goes lukewarm?

It HAS been known to happen.

In the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer says, “Virtually every veteran in the business that I’ve spoken with – WITH NO EXCEPTIONS – thinks this isn’t a money direction.” I think that’s an indictment of the thinking process of said veterans. Given wrestling’s stagnation right now, I believe in the path less traveled more than anything. But it shows what Punk’s up against backstage.

The best would be if Punk NEVER came back. Just found something else to do and retired as WWE champion. Punk could do that even if he signed a WWE contract. He just couldn’t wrestle anywhere else.

I laugh at the marks who think taking the WWE belt out of circulation for a bit hurts the promotion. Right now, that belt means more by its ABSENCE than it’s meant by its PRESENCE in years and years.

DUMP THE PART-TIMERS?

WWE faces a unique problem with part-time main-event performers like The Rock, Undertaker, HHH and even Austin, who doesn’t work matches but is an occasional presence on WWE TV. WWE gets crowd pops, ratings pops and a PERCEIVED increase in business when those guys “return” for ‘Mania or whatever. But the ratings gains are so minuscule, the reason is tough to trace. I think the ‘Mania brand (or SummerSlam brand) ups business.

Would WWE be better off without the part-timers? Does the lingering semi-presence of legendary figures keep full-time performers like Cena, Punk, Randy Orton, etc., from truly rising to (and maintaining) the level they might? Does it diminish the house shows, which Rock, Undertaker, HHH and Austin NEVER work, thus hurting that end of the business?

One thing’s certain: It’s not fair to the full-time performers. With the exception of Cena, everyone is put on the backburner when one of the legends deigns to work. The decks get cleared. The workhorses drop to mid-card. The message is clear: Rock, Undertaker, HHH and Austin are the REAL STARS. Only Cena approaches.

LAST THOUGHTS

*I laughed out loud when I heard Sin Cara got popped for drugs. How transparent is that? Sin Cara is HHH’s first protégé since getting involved in developmental. He’s getting over only minimally. Given his lucha background, very few WWE wrestlers can work with him. They want to get rid of Sin Cara without making HHH look bad. The drug bust is the first step in doing that.

*Impact is reportedly building to a Hulk Hogan babyface turn. ARE YOU ****ING KIDDING ME!? This is 2011. That would mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Even Hogan’s nostalgia appeal is dead. Don’t turn Hogan babyface. Turn him gay, like Adorable Adrian. Turn him black, like Akeem. Turn him out, like the prostitute he’s always been. Better yet, turn him loose. Dump Hogan. It’s been over for years.

*Ric Flair seems to be out of favor at Impact. He never should have gone there in the first place. Flair is big-league, the greatest of all-time. When Flair went to Impact, he not only went to a bush operation run by a clueless money mark, he jumped into a snake pit populated by dishonest scumbags who have tried to sabotage his career at sundry other promotions. I can’t speak to Flair’s finances, but if he can afford to go home and stay home, he should.

*Deepest condolences to Terry Taylor, whose wife Trudy passed away after a long battle with cancer. Terry always called her "Trudy the Beauty," and Trudy truly was…in every way possible.

Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM, Pittsburgh, PA (105.9). Check out his web page at WXDX.com. Contact Mark by emailing WZMarkMadden@hotmail.com.

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