This Monday night, we saw exactly how WWE would pay tribute to Paul Bearer…and then CM Punk showed up. As always, I was covering Raw on twitter (follow us @CRAttire) and I noticed a slew of mixed responses from fans, marks, smarks and casual viewers. Initially there were those that engaged in the visceral reaction of getting offended and responding by claiming that Punk and WWE disrespected William Moody. Of course there were the small few that made the crude joke that really wasn’t all that funny to begin with (I lump those people in with the idiot that yelled at Kane to say something). And then there were the people like me who believe there was nothing disrespectful about it and actually was incredibly well done.
We start off with the tribute video package where people within the company expressed their admiration for the character and all the aspects that made Paul Bearer work. This is followed by Undertaker coming out in character and doing his signature kneel before Bearer’s trademark urn and we see the graphic on the tron.
*Static* Cue “Cult of Personality.”
Jerry can’t believe this and claims that this is the most disrespectful thing he’s ever seen…does heart attacks affect one’s memory at all? This wasn’t even the most disrespectful thing he’s probably seen all month.
Punk speaks about the crowd misunderstanding his interruption and then cuts a promo about their Wrestlemania match and only that. Let’s be honest, the statement that Undertaker will always be undefeated to Paul Bearer was actually kinda touching and thoughtful, it just so happened to be spoken in Punk snark so it might not have landed that way to many people. We then some awkward camera movement that led me to believe that Kane bit during the commercial might have been planned for that opening segment, or at least it should’ve because nobody uses RAWactive.
But we return from commercial break with Cole incorrectly stating that Punk disrespected Paul Bearer before we see the footage of Kane attacking Punk and then Punk getting away.
Kane destroying Alex Riley for +10 Charisma and then gets +10 Sympathy for not being able to say anything during his interview while holding the urn.
Fast forward to the match itself between Punk and Kane. And we get another punch in the feels as Kane walks to the ring while cradling the urn. Punk gets trolled by Taker’s bell and Kane picks up the win. We see dueling poses from Taker and Kane, another touching moment only to be put out by Punk, who hits Kane with the urn. Taker makes his way to the ring at a slightly more brisk pace than normally and Punk runs away with the urn.
We end with Taker looking mad and Punk doing the Taker pose with the urn at the top of the ramp (before that, I thought Punk was about to give it the ol’ Snitsky baby-punt).
I recapped all of this because I wanted to point out a simple fact: Punk never actually said anything or did anything that was disrespectful towards Paul Bearer the character or Bill Moody the man. The closest thing Punk said about him was the “Taker will always be undefeated” bit and that was as a sign of respect as anyone. I felt as if the story Raw told this week was about as touching of a tribute without anyone breaking character and still managing to progress the Wrestlemania story line. WWE found a way to use reality and implement it into the show without being disrespectful or overly corny. WWE has definitely been a “show must go on” type of organization no matter the tragedy and usually when a wrestler on the active roster passes, WWE does a tribute show (their one mistake was their blind response to Benoit) where wrestlers break character and recall stories or they take a week away from the story lines. I did notice a few people wanted a similar type of tribute show but I really don’t believe that’s the kind of thing Bill Moody would’ve wanted to see. He was always the kind of performer that religiously stayed in character whenever the cameras were on him and anything and everything was fair game for whatever story he was involved in at the time.
It was only last week that people complained that there wasn’t enough in this feud, I think WWE using it would be beneficial to the overall story. Sure it’s a little cheap to use someone passing away but I think the only other option would be for the characters to ignore it happening and I think that’s completely unreasonable. And sure, some things Punk did or said weren’t necessarily respectful but, equally, they weren’t disrespectful either. I would argue Paul Heyman faking a heart attack during Lawler’s return was more disrespectful and even then I’m sure they wouldn’t have done it if they thought Lawler would take offense. In scenarios like these, the only people that get offended are people that have nothing to do with the subject matter in question. If Taker, Kane and anyone else that knew Moody personally was okay with it then what right do you as a fan have to get offended? Let’s say, for instance, a comedian tells a joke about cancer that doesn’t disrespect anyone. Chances are, there’s gonna be some uptight jerk that’s going to whine and complain that the joke is offensive but completely ignoring the fact that there’s a bunch of cancer patients/survivors and their family members laughing their head off at the same joke. Sure there are jokes that are poorly constructed and exist only to be offensive and to piss people off and rightly deserves to be picketed or verbally destroyed. Now if the Moody family came out this week and made complaints, I feel like that would be a different story but I have a hard time believing that would happen.
If you want to be angry about anything, focus on WWE’s attempt to pimp out tout this week and letting the lemmings do their horrible Bearer impersonations on TV or Layla’s tweet being highlighted as well as her obviously inability to grasp when it’s a bad time to say “lol”.
I do want to offer my kudos to WWE, Taker, Kane and Punk for their ability to create a tasteful and reasonable story line in response to a tragedy. I honestly believe that if this had happened during the attitude era or if this was TNA, we’d have something incredibly offensive on our hands.
My final thought that sums up what I’m trying to say here is as such:
Getting offended just because you feel like you should be offended is on the same level of idiocy as being offensive for the sole purpose of being offensive. Creativity is the cure.
Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do twice,
The Answer: It’s only awkward if you make eye contact
Tags: chris sanders, cm punk, kane, Paul Bearer, Raw, The Rager, undertaker