Welcome to week 64.
First up, this column might be short (which sucks due to the topic), but my lady-friend was in a car accident on Saturday and Iâ€™ve been at the hospital/her place for most of the week when not cranking out lawsuits at the office. So, considering everythingâ€™s in flux, I havenâ€™t had a hell of a lot of time for anything.
With that said, I got home from her place on Monday night at around midnight and planned on zipping through RAW just to see the high-points. For some reason I sat through the entire JR speech, wondering if Vince would give Jim Ross his moment to enjoy his fans or if he was going to continue the long tradition of humiliating the hometown boy in front of an irate audience. To my shock, JR got through his entire speech andâ€¦oh waitâ€¦here comes Edge.
As soon as I saw Edge come out, I knew what was going to happen. The excitement was building in my skull because I thought, â€œThe WWE has a chance to do something awesomeâ€¦would they actually have the balls?â€ Instead of having the balls, out came Batista. My fantasy booking was slashed to pieces as Dave beat the ever living crap out of the World Heavyweight Champion, leaving him lying helpless in the ring. Cue his music, segment over. Right?
By this point, it was about 12:15 and I was delusional tired. I had been up at 6:30 to go to work and didnâ€™t really plan on pulling such a late night considering I was going to be up the next morning at 6:15 and like at least 5 and a half hours of sleep to be functional for my 10 hour workday. I was seconds away from pushing fast forward when I heard the song. Oh how I longed for months to hear that song.
Killswitch Engaged never sounded so sweet. Out, armed with his suitcase, was CM Punk. CM Punk sprinted to the ring, handed the ref the suitcase, hit the GTS and then I heard three slaps of the mat and it started to sink in. At that moment, only one thought went through my mindâ€¦
For Your Considerationâ€¦Seriously, Did That Just Happen?
CM Punk is your new World Champion.
It was the mark-out moment that all of the Internet had been waiting years for. I had waited to see that ever since I first saw Punk wrestle at the first (and only) ECW House Show at the ECW Arena. Sure, he won the ECW title, but I donâ€™t even think the WWE is acknowledging that it is a world title anymore (sorry Mr. Henryâ€¦oh who am I kidding when it comes to apologizing to that no-talent lump?). No folks, we finally have our new Internet Mark King as THE champion of all the land.
Well, these were my thoughts in the moments leading up to and following the title win. Then it sank in some more, and being the realist I am, I began to see the holes in the logic. The giant, gaping holes that one could drive a semi-truck through (no, n.W.o., that wasnâ€™t a sign for you to rev up your engines just yet). So, since you know that Iâ€™m the source here at the Pulse for dissecting every move the WWE makes and presenting the counter-argument, allow me to indulge in my devilâ€™s advocacy position and point out why we shouldnâ€™t get our hopes up, and it all starts with Chris Jericho.
Remember the last time the Internet was abuzz about one of OUR guys winning the title? Do you? Sure you do. It was an unassuming night in the middle of the Attitude Era (actually closer to the waning days) when a young Y2J challenged the seemingly unstoppable Triple H for the WW(E) title. No one thought he could pull out the win, especially since this was a segment 1 match. I mean, segment 1 works well for opening promos or the curtain-jerking, crowd-popping Jeff Hardy v. Carlito match, but not for a World Title contest. However, to our shock and outright amazement, Jericho picked up the 1-2-3, thanks to Earl Hebnerâ€™s ballsy decision to count the champ down. Then, with enthusiasm normally reserved for Stone Cold Steve Austin, Jim Ross announced to the world that the kid from Canada (though technically from New York) won the biggest prize in the industry. The Net freaked out almost instantly when we realized that our groundswell movement to make this short, talented guy a world champion succeeded. Oh man, what a feeling.
Then came segment 2. And 3. And 4. And as the minutes clicked by, it seemed more apparent that Jericho wasnâ€™t leaving that night with the gold. Hunter threatened Hebnerâ€™s job and physical wellbeing, which was odd since he had no idea old Earl was making bootleg t-shirts at the time. So, by the time segment 11 rolled around, Jerichoâ€™s waist was bare and Triple H was once again â€œthe Gameâ€. Ugh. Our moment passed and now we were back to the way things were supposed to be.
That same sense of impending doom hit me as soon as we came back from commercial break. You see, while I wanted Cookie Monster Punk to win the damn gold just as much as the next guy, I was less than thrilled with the way he procured it. Punkâ€™s gimmick when he entered â€œtheâ€ ECW was that he was addicted to competition. Anyone, any time, anywhere. He thrived on this and it make the crowd respect him. On Monday night, he took the cowardly heel route and pinned a helpless Edge. He should have been the one to rescue Jim Ross and knock out Edge. He should have been the one to save Oklahomaâ€™s favorite son and ensure the loudest pop of the millennium. Instead it went to Batista, a man who by all mathematical logic should be turning heel at any moment. Then, on top of everything else, there was that LONG delay between him giving the ref the belt and the match starting. Were they really going to blow this thing for him?
Segment One ended as if the closing chapter of a fairy tale. Young indie kid toils away for years in several feds, carves out a unique character that could work as both a cult-like heel or a surprise babyface, makes it to the â€œbig timeâ€ with a national company, gets dropped, becomes king of the indies, gets â€œthe callâ€, makes it onto television, gets over and finally becomes â€œthe manâ€. Hold on, Iâ€™m getting all misty.
Too bad this wasnâ€™t the fairy tale we thought it would be. When segment 2 featured a Punk interview, it dawned on me. â€œWhy would they do this to start the show?â€ I wondered. Then I saw John Bradshaw Layfield walk into frame. Oh no, theyâ€™re going to pull a Jericho (Iâ€™ve taken the liberty of naming it so that we donâ€™t get confused in the future) and have him win and lose the title all in one night. And if it couldnâ€™t get any more impending, JBL took the liberty of pointing out how stupid Punkâ€™s win was.
Then Rey came out to â€œput overâ€ punk. As did Cena. The WWE is many things, but subtle isnâ€™t one of them. They had their two biggest faces put CM Punk over as â€œthe manâ€, but it was John Cena who really did the move of the night. His promo delivered one of the great backhanded compliments ever, as he seamlessly transitioned the shameless â€œthis is a momentâ€ bullshit heâ€™s been slinging into the â€œwell, we all know I deserve the belt, so letâ€™s get the title switch outta the way.â€ Just like that, Punk was knocked back down to the number 4 face on the show. Reyâ€™s the returning hero. Batistaâ€™s the guy who slew the evil Edge. Cenaâ€™s the man whoâ€™s going to reign supreme. And Punk? Heâ€™s the guy carrying the gold for one of them.
As I watched the main event, a sense of impending doom started to come over me. Would the WWE really hotshot the title in one night? To be fair, JBL as champion makes sense for them. The WWE always likes to have a babyface chase a heel for a while, and since RAW is heel-light at the moment, John could adequately carry the belt until he gets beaten by Mysterio, Dave or John. However, to my shock, the WWE didnâ€™t let Punk get jobbed out in two hours.
No, the WWE didnâ€™t take the title off of CM Punk the first chance they got, which to me was a surprisingly relief. They did, however, effectively cut his reign off at the knees. First, they have Punk win the belt in a great â€œmomentâ€ for TV but not a great â€œmomentâ€ for Punk. Then, they have the upper card do the fake kiss-up to CM because Vince probably believes that the audience has no idea who he is. Finally, after heâ€™s called a paper champion and gets a chance to extract revenge, he needs the assistance of the true #1 guy and a random tag team just to get the win. This is how you build a strong champion? Of course it isnâ€™t. Why did the WWE do this? They wanted to give the audience that â€œanything can happenâ€ feel, and now that we got it, expect them to go right back into the rut they dwell in.
The WWE never wanted to give Punk the Money in the Bank briefcase in the first place. The MITB match was built around Jeff Hardy. When he burned them, they chose to stick the case in Punkâ€™s hands because they hoped it would get over another merchandise seller without having to give him a real push. Heâ€™s on ECW, he sells t-shirts, give him the damn briefcase until we need to take it back. Once he got it, we knew he had to win the belt. Why? Because the WWE has a hard-on for making the MITB winner the future champion. It keeps intrigue in the match, one would assume, despite the fact that itâ€™s really just a crazy spotfest at Mania. So, since they needed to have him win the belt, why not burn it in the middle of a â€œmomentâ€?
Now, with the gold around his waist, Punk no longer has the suitcase. The WWE no longer needs to worry about letting this guy look like the heir apparent to the main event when they have no real intention of letting him stay up there. What does this mean? It means that the WWE will sit and look at whether or not the ratings pop. If they do, then itâ€™s because of the success of the surprise. If they donâ€™t, then itâ€™s Punkâ€™s failure. The WWE has made Punk the world champion in a feud between John Cena and John Bradshaw Layfield. If anything, Punk will be added to a triple threat where he can eat a Clothesline from Hell or an FU and drop the gold. That is, if he makes it that far. Will the WWE even allow him to main event a real show? How long did RVD get to hold the WWE Championship? (Yes, I know he was dropped due to the drug bust, but stillâ€¦)
Call it years of cynicism mixed with law school logic and real world sensibilities if you want, but deep down you know the argument is right. All of the signs point to a less-than-stellar Punk title reign. What if Iâ€™m wrong? What if this doesnâ€™t turn out to be like Chris Jerichoâ€™s lackluster Undisputed Championship reign? What if this isnâ€™t as disappointing as Benoitâ€™s World Title run? (Yes, itâ€™s still weird to think of him as just a wrestler) What if CM Punkâ€™s title reign morphs into something that will cement him as a true main eventer? I, for one, would be thrilled. But letâ€™s get serious folks, itâ€™s the WWE in 2008, not the WWF in 1998.
This has been for your consideration.