|Your WWE Champion, CM Punk|
Photo by: My 1-2-3 Cents
By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter
Longtime readers of the blog, or loyal listeners of From The Rafter’s Radio have heard myself and Kevin talk a lot about the lack of logic in today’s wrestling storytelling. Last week on Rafter’s Radio, I praised Chikara (as I normally do when the company comes up in discussion) for their attention to detail in their stories and how all the stories told over the 11 months of Season 11 were logical. In the last two months of watching (or more honestly, reading recaps) RAW, I am impressed with how much WWE has changed the CM Punk character and tainted his title reign.
What started out as a solid reign with a champion vanquishing foe after foe first turned into a champion demanding respect. At this point there was some truth to CM Punk’s complaints. Even though he had been champion for nine months, he had only headlined one pay per view and was taking a backseat to John Cena even though Cena wasn’t challenging for the title. Then for some reason, even though CM Punk had defeated John Cena on two consecutive pay per views a year earlier, Cena claimed Punk still had to beat Cena in order to had legitimacy to Punk’s reign.
After winning a triple threat match against John Cena and the Big Show, Punk then had to once again face Cena in Cena’s hometown in order to get respect. That match ended in a draw as both men had their shoulders on the mat for a three count. With respect still not earned, even as he was closing in being the longest reigning champion in the last 25 years. Punk was faced with another big challenge, the undefeated monster, Ryback.
Suddenly, the cocky Punk was trying to get out of matches and running like a scalded dog whenever Ryback would appear. In their first match at “Hell In The Cell,” Punk needed the help of crooked referee Brad Maddox to help put the first notch in Ryback’s loss column. The next month at Survivor Series, Punk used the debuting attack of The Shield on Ryback to take advantage and pin John Cena. For over a year CM Punk wasn’t necessarily a dominant champion, but was clearly capable of holding his own against any competitor. What happened in the last four months to make Punk lose his mojo?
It’s not that I am upset over the change in character per se. It’s more that the change in character seems forced for the sake of the story being told instead of natural. Most successful wrestlers evolve their characters over time. One of the biggest criticisms against John Cena is that his character is stale and needs to change. CM Punk could have easily, and logically, morphed from cocky champion to paranoid champion. Unfortunately, WWE writers jumped from step one to step four and completely bypassed steps two and three. Perhaps John Cena’s elbow injury and unforeseen time off, as well as the sudden ascension of Ryback to challenger eliminated the plans for the subtle character change.
After the double pin fall at “Night of Champions,” CM Punk could have shown the hint of vulnerability and commented that even though he walked out as champion; John Cena pushed him to the brink of near defeat. Paul Heyman, Punk’s mouthpiece, could then inform Punk that he was only a few short months away from taking the record of longest title reign from John Cena. This plants the seed of desire in Punk’s mind that he must at whatever cost keep the title for as long as possible.
With each passing day, Punk’s love for the WWE title grows and he becomes very Gollum-like thinking of the title as his Precious. After Ryback is announced as his next challenger, Punk could keep up a brave face inside the ring when cutting promos while expressing doubt to Paul Heyman backstage. Heyman could offer his sincerest assurance Punk has nothing to worry about. After the Brad Maddox help and the Shield interference, Punk, while not in on the plans, starts to regain his cockiness thinking he is unbeatable.
|Preparing for the Royal Rumble|
Photo courtesy: WWE
Getting through the end of 2012, Punk is heading straight to the “Royal Rumble” and a date with The Rock for the WWE Title. CM Punk, once again full of attitude and bravado, cuts promo after promo detailing how he has no fear of the Rock and how the WWE Title will remain around his waist until he decides to hang up his boots. The week before “Royal Rumble,” while Punk is going on and on about how he’s the best champion and The Rock doesn’t concern him because no Hollywood actor is as tough or talented as the WWE Champion, The Rock shows up on the Titantron and informs Punk that Paul Heyman had nothing to do with Brad Maddox or The Shield. The Rock wanted to make sure CM Punk was WWE champion when the “Royal Rumble” rolled around so he, The Rock, did what he needed to do and enlisted the services of the four men to help Punk retain the title.
Okay, I’m getting off track and didn’t mean to go into fantasy booking mode. I hope you get the point I was trying to make and that is appears WWE has/had no long term plan in place for CM Punk’s title run and therefore has to change his character on a whim when they come up with a new direction. That lack of foresight has been one of the biggest problems in WWE over the last few years.