Today’s Episode: This Fire Burns
Since Chris Benoit went bat guano insane and destroyed his legacy along with his family, CM Punk has been my favorite wrestler in the world, although I occasionally find myself leaning to guys like Chris Jericho or, crazily enough, “Lighting” Mike Quackenbush. Still, Punk was, and is, one of my guys. I remember seeing him back in 2001 wrestle in the “Jersey J-Cup,” a cruiserweight tournament held in some hall where the ceiling was so low, they had to use a sort of miniature ring so that guys wouldn’t smack their heads into the lights when they dared to jump off the middle rope. When I saw him years later in the new WWECW, he had changed for the better, abandoning his odd ring garb and multicolored hair for a few more tattoos and some muay thai kicks. I cheered him on during his, for some, bland face run, and marveled with everyone at his outstanding heel run against Jeff Hardy and alongside the Straight Edge Society.
Thus, I was thrilled to pieces to see that he, perhaps, could be the new Steve Austin, the voice of the voiceless, the guy who honestly didn’t give a damn what the company would do to him as long as he could announce, on live television, what people truly thought of some of the garbage we’ve been fed over the past several years.
Then, Money in the Bank happened, and Punk won the title, and Christian, another one of my favorites, won the title. The following week, Beth Phoenix would get tired of the parade of models and bimbos in the women’s division, and she and Natalya would team up, becoming the Divas of Doom and uniting the two best female wrestlers in the company. Yes, we lost Gail Kim along with way, but things were turning around. I was thrilled to be a wrestling fan, and one of my best friends bought me a CM Punk “Best In The World” shirt, the only wrestling shirt I’ve even been partially willing to wear since 1997, when I’d sport a J.O.B. Squad shirt to school because no one quite knew what it meant. Things were finally going to change.
Then Summerslam happened, and we’ve sort of been told to sit down and shut up ever since. Punk beat Cena under less than clean circumstances, Orton killed Christian dead with yet another RKO, and Beth Phoenix, far from squashing Kelly Kelly like a perky blonde pancake, lost to a roll-up at the second biggest PPV of the year.
All of that elation we, the Internet Wrestling Community, felt after Money in the Bank has kind of drifted by the wayside, even though I don’t think most of us have a problem with Alberto Del Rio as champion. However, as mentioned by Pulse Glazer in his recent, and marvelous, Wednesday Morning Backlash, we are frustrated with how Punk is on the side again while John Cena continues to be the one fighting for the world title. Christian is apparently out of the world title picture for awhile to feud with Sheamus while Randy Orton runs roughshod over everyone. Heck, Scott Keith just pointed out in his last Raw recap that not only did Orton destroy Heath Slater with ease, but Cena beat two guys completely by himself to win the 8-man elimination match, because of course he did.
What happened to our new golden age? CM Punk is cooling off by the second, and everyone thinks that they know what to do to save the whole kit and kaboodle, but I think I’ve figured it out.
The world hasn’t changed, even if CM Punk is trying to convince us that it has.
This fire burns, but no one feels the heat except us.
Did you hear the crowd on Monday? Sure, plenty of people were chanting CM Punk, but there were more than a few boos. He’s getting booed! But he’s awesome, right? SO Awesome. And so is Christian. And so are the Divas of Doom. All of the people that we love are losing, and the answer is so mind-numbingly simple that we can’t see it.
They’re bad guys. Christian got killed by Orton because heroes destroy villains, just as the spunky Kelly Kelly eking out a win over the far more capable Beth Phoenix is David showing Goliath that bigger and stronger doesn’t always mean better. We love the bad guys because they’re good wrestlers, but bad guys are supposed to lose. That’s their job: lose to the hero, because good always, always triumphs.
Sure, Punk is a face now because people responded so strongly to him, but he’s still the guy who tried to take the title from John Cena, and some fans simply cannot abide by that. It’s a shame that he’s being sort of becoming a bit more of a generic face, but perhaps it was inevitable. Really, our biggest fear shouldn’t be that Punk is going to be watered down, as if he’d openly allow such a thing.
Our real fear should be that he’s not the messiah that he hoped for. That he’s not the man who’s going to make wrestling “fun” again. That he can’t handle the pressure or make the most of the opportunities afforded to him.
Our real fear should be that the revolution will be televised, and no one will care.