Caught in the Ropes-Cashing in on CM Punk after WWE Money in the Bank and TNA

Welcome back to Caught in the Ropes! I’ll be taking it easy this week, since I’ve been working on a few other projects recently and haven’t had a lot of time to form a full column. I’ll get into my thoughts on how the CM Punk angle played itself out on last night’s Money in the Bank PPV, but I’ll make a few comments to the TNA fans out there first.

The TNA Conspiracy:

If you haven’t been reading Blair A. Douglas’ Interinactivity column each week, and shame on you if you haven’t, you might not be aware that the tongue-lashing Blair often gives TNA doesn’t sit well with the hardcore TNA fan-base. That’s being generous of course; their remarks can reach near-pornographic levels of vulgarity. Before someone throws a fit in the comments section: yes, WWE marks can be just as righteously indignant. I wrote a column about John Cena, so I know this from first-hand experience. But the die-hard TNA fans seem to think that Pulse Wrestling as a singular entity has a pro-WWE, anti-TNA bias. While many of us have problems with TNA, we’re certainly not “WWE marks” (“WWE marks” should be said in a gravelly, satanic voice).

First of all, Pulse Wrestling’s columns are op-ed; they are our opinion. We have our own opinions, ones that might not gel with yours. Some might be surprised that not everyone in the world likes TNA. Speaking for myself, I don’t like the fact that they waste a lot of talent in dead-end angles when they’re not being jobbed out to vanilla WWE also-rans. Even main-event guys that I don’t openly dislike, such as Sting, become a laughing-stock due to ridiculous gimmicks. I also don’t like that TNA storylines usually have a long-distance relationship with sanity. Muddled, confusing angles featuring characters with impenetrable motivations doesn’t make for entertaining television in my opinion.

However, if there’s something to like about TNA, writers here aren’t afraid to talk about it. If you read the reviews and previews of the Destination X PPV, you’ll find that almost everyone enjoyed the PPV (or thought it would be the best of the year, if you’re reading a preview) and were primarily dismayed that TNA wouldn’t build upon their X-Division and make it more central to Impact. Yes, writers here enjoyed a TNA PPV; that kind of springs a leak in the old ship HMS Pulse-Wrestling-Hates-TNA.

Now, on the flip-side, Pulse Wrestling’s writers aren’t “WWE marks”. If you read my 10 Thoughts on Raw column, you’ll see me complaining about the Divas division, the Mark Henry/Big Show feud, the burial of Drew McIntyre, among many other things. In the flurry of CM Punk discussion, many writers complained that the WWE poisoned the whole angle when they added the “You’re Fired!” stipulation to the match. Many also noted that the only thing keeping Raw from being boring, mediocre drivel was Punk. That doesn’t sound like glowing, glassy-eyed WWE cronyism to me.

The moral: read the columns here before you jump to ridiculous conclusions. Opinions on a site like this are rarely black-and-white; they’re more shades of gray. Please, voice your own views, and make an argument if you feel we’re wrong on something. But painting every writer here with the same “WWE mark”-brush is unfair. Especially because we’re all NOAH marks.

Punk is not Dead:

WWE outdid themselves Sunday night, crafting an emphatic exclamation point on their reversal of fortunes. Just think: less than a month ago, we were all complaining about the stifling post-Wrestlemania drought the company was going through. Things were bland, boring, and uneventful. Now we have both Alberto del Rio and DANIEL F’ING BRYAN as MITB winners. Seriously, I wrote Daniel off in less than a sentence in my roundtable picks. I figured there was no way, that Sheamus was the obvious winner here; WWE proved me wrong. Will he become the first MITB winner to lose his title shot? Hey, they gave Swagger a run with the title, so just about anything is possible. We also have Christian as our NEW World Heavyweight Champion.

And there’s CM Punk’s improbable, unbelievable victory to talk about. The WWE feinted with the “Chicago Screw-job”, then feinted with the MITB cash-in, then threw the knockout punch by having Punk escape the building with the belt in tow through the rabid Chicago crowd. The WWE found a way to shock its fans, by giving us a finish too radical, too out-there for the conservative WWE to attempt. Only one writer at Pulse Wrestling, as far as I can tell, called this one: a certain disreputable gentleman named CB. The WWE made the right call here, and I’ll tell you why.

I am now giddy with excitement for Raw. I can honestly say that I haven’t been this excited in a long time; readers of my 10 Thoughts on Raw will probably be hard-pressed to decipher my lunatic ramblings. And I’m sure I won’t be alone in my excitement; this is what the WWE so desperately needed: a massive, divisive angle to reinvigorate its fan-base. Best of all, this just piles on more intrigue; will Punk make an appearance on Raw? Will the ‘E have to create a new title? What happens with Cena? There are so many questions left that all the WWE needs to do is let this play itself out. Don’t rush this angle; let the suspense build.

Will MITB 2011 mark the beginning of a new era for the WWE? It’s too early to tell, but things are certainly heading in the right direction. The WWE showed a certain amount of self-awareness that I, in all honesty, didn’t believe they possessed. I do believe that Punk is leaving; his interview made it seem pretty obvious that he wants to take three months of at least to relax. He also mentioned that his lines-of-communication with the WWE are still open, meaning that he’ll listen to their next contract offer when he’s ready. And since he’s still with Beth, odds are he will come back sooner rather than later. Punk has already begun to mold his own legend in the WWE; if and when he comes back, it’ll be a pleasure to see it become fully-formed.

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