Alternate Reality by Vin Tastic


Opportunities Lost

The professional wrestling business requires a regular stream of new talent, fresh faces, and emerging stars in order to keep from becoming stale. Years of the same men on top of the card, main-eventing pay-per-view events, being featured on television, and starring in house shows makes those characters seem overexposed, and hurts the promotion’s ability to expand it’s footprint among new viewers, while boring the die hard or core fan base to pieces. The way to stave off such a problem is to continually search for the next big thing, and get that performer in the correct position on the card as promptly as possible, in hope of ushering in the next big prosperity era.

In the past few weeks, WWE has blown two opportunities in that regard. They wasted the undefeated streak of ECW’s CM Punk, and failed to introduce a new member of D-Generation X when the time was ideal to do so.

TODAY’S ISSUE: Swing and a Miss (x 2)

First, let’s take a look at CM Punk. Recently on ECW on SciFi, this rising star lost in the middle of the ring to career also-ran, backstage bully, self-appointed locker room cop and genuine asshole Bob Holly in an anticlimactic end to Punk’s ECW undefeated streak. The bitter, immature and vindictive elder statesmen of the industry decided they don’t care for this young superstar who’s lighting up crowds and earning a following, so they wanted to put him in his place.

Holly is the same veteran who believes he’s owed respect simply for remaining on the roster for a long time. Regardless of the fact that he once spit on the business by abusing a young trainee’s trust in him inside the ring during an instructional match, and that he’s taken many other disgusting, unforgivable liberties with men who’ve also placed their health and trust in his hands, “Hardcore” Holly was the one to end CM Punk’s unbeaten streak, without it even amounting to much. This was a phenomenal waste, as Punk was one of the few characters to inject a little life into the listless ECW product. If they did want to end Punk’s streak, they might have tried to pop a buy-rate in the process by selling a ppv match with his streak on the line being some sort of stipulation. But that would only have been if the streak was broken for storyline advancement, which it wasn’t. They cut Punk’s run short for one reason: jealousy.

According to pro wrestling legend and WWE road agent (sorry, producer) Arn Anderson, Holly defeated Punk because “after 14 years of being on WWE television, Holly is a bigger star.” How absurd! Neither The Rock nor Stone Cold Steve Austin have been on WWE television for 14 years. Is Holly a bigger star than the Great One or the Rattlesnake? Stardom and longevity are not the same thing. Scotty Too Hotty and Funaki have been around an awfully long time as well, but you don’t see them going over up-and-comers like Punk. That’s simply a case of crafting a lame excuse to justify taking a young star down a peg because you can. Dave Finlay, who I usually like a lot, is the brilliant member of the “old guard” who suggested Holly defeat Punk clean in the middle of the ring. God forbid somebody who’s not well liked backstage should become popular with the paying audience.

The “glory days” of breaking a young trainee’s ankle to teach him a lesson are gone, or at least they should be. All the grizzled veterans who resent a young guy like CM Punk for getting himself over with the fans are out of touch. At this stage in the game, WWE employees should be thankful that anyone is able to connect with the audience and inspire them enough to make signs sporting his logo and pop when his music hits. To Hell with “earning your spot”, “paying your dues” or any of that arcane bullshit. Bob Holly is simply jealous that CM Punk is more over than Holly could ever manage to get himself, so he wanted to beat him up. And the other senior citizens backstage who had the power to make it happen did, no doubt slapping each other on the back while Punk lied down on his. It’s sickening.

Punk’s unique straight-edge gimmick makes him a truly innovative character. However, this same “no drugs, alcohol or tobacco” gimmick which makes Punk a decent role model to fans, has angered the almighty McMahon because he feels it makes Punk think he’s “better than everybody else”. What hogwash! I’m sure Vinnie Mac himself was overjoyed watching Bob “the Neanderthal” Holly pin the technically sound, but much smaller, Punk. How dumb does the owner of a company have to be to kill the momentum of his own performer, who has the potential to earn the owner money, just because he doesn’t like said performer too much?

I hope Punk can recover from the set back and continue to perform up to par on Tuesday nights, because he’s the only guy I can get excited about in all of ECW these days.

WWE also blew a golden opportunity to introduce a new member of DX on RAW last week. With HHH out for 4-6 months after his second quadriceps tear, the Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels faced off against Rated RKO in a two-on-one handicap match in the main event, as Bambi discussed.

WWE teased all night that somebody would step in and try to assist the overmatched HBK when Rated RKO bloodied both Hacksaw Jim Duggan and the Nature Boy Ric Flair (for what seemed like the 10th time in recent weeks) as a “warning” to anyone who might want to intervene on Michaels’ behalf. Considering that DX can’t really survive as a one-man band for too long, and after all the effort they made to effect the rebirth of DX in the first place, WWE certainly could have used this match to breathe new life into the neon-green-n-black attack.

Picture it: the match could proceed much the way it did, with HBK bloodied and battered, seemingly alone and in grave danger. After Michaels takes both the Spear and the RKO and is about to be pinned, the arena gets dark and the “Are you ready?” hits. WHAM! Out comes the newest member, and DX is reborn, ready to battle the forces of evil once more.

Besides former DX and/or clique members (Hall, Waltman, or even Chyna) who are available, there are many Michaels-trained men on the roster who might make sense as the new third man. Either London or Kendrick, especially considering their recent match and teased heat over Ashley, could have made the jump. As a storyline extra, the Hooligan who DIDN’T make the jump was completely in the dark about his partner abandoning the SmackDown! tag titles to jump to RAW and join DX, so the two feud over that fact on Friday nights as well. We know London and Kendrick can put on a great match when they’re competing as respected opponents, so imagine the furious war they could wage with a real issue between them.

Perhaps HBK could have gone “outside” the company seeking help to keep DX alive, and who might he have found? None other than Monty Brown! This would have been a cool way to introduce the character, and given Brown an instant rub.

Already within the RAW family is Lance “Don’t Call Me Garrison” Cade, who might be tired of dragging the Dick Murdoch-wannabe on his coattails. With his size and potential, Cade would be a great temporary addition to DX. Cade joining the elite group could also lead to and an insta-feud with HHH upon the Game’s return, to battle over who comprises “The REAL DX”. Ultimately, of course, HHH would reclaim his spot in DX, but Cade would get a real rub over the next few months, elevating him to a new level and producing another sorely needed new star on the roster.

If WWE wanted to take a different route, there are several big men not doing anything at the moment, like Matt Morgan, Nathan Jones, and John Heidenreich. Any of these would be ideal for filling the gap in DX and then losing the inevitable feud with HHH, the same as Cade. The difference would be that while Cade stick’s around and enjoys a higher status due to his association with DX, the King of Kings would so thoroughly trash Morgan, Jones, or Heidenreich that they would never be seen or heard from again. I’m not recommending this last scenario, but considering Vince’s love for men of size [ahem] I thought it might be something he’d go for.

But instead of jumping at a perfect opportunity to keep an important storyline rolling, elevate a lower mid-card performer and give his character credibility, or to reintroduce an old face that would be worth money on this recent nostalgia tour, McMahon went in another direction. With his partner Superman (HHH) laid up in post-surgery, Captain Marvel (HBK) not only survived, but defeated and dominated two former world champions, both of whom are much younger, stronger and faster than him.

Randy Orton is 27, Edge is 34, and Michaels is well over 40; there’s absolutely no logic in HBK looking strong after battling Rated RKO. If Brian Urlacher were to face off against NFL legend Joe Montana today (especially considering modernized training, improved understanding and study of video, et cetera) Urlacher would NOT fold under the weight of Montana’s legacy. He’d dominate Joe’s old ass.

But in the fantasy world of WWE, Vince would rather stroke Michaels’ massive ego (and HHH’s as well, by proxy) or cut CM Punk off at the knees than make a long-term, forward-looking decision that would be best for business. I suppose I should know better by now.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.

p.s. – “The Earth is bi-polar”. – Stephen Wright

Master Sergeant, United States Air Force