Hello. These are dark times in our kingdom, our kingdom full of men and women in spandex where nu metal still reigns supreme. I am James A. Sawyer, and @todaysjimsawyer. I’m also kinda fuzzy at the moment, and not at all the slender, handsome man in Spain in my picture below. Want proof? Check out this site http://www.gofundme.com/66dpok and while you’re at it link and share and donate if you can! Fun!
So… what’s in the news, lately? (the stand-up comic nervously claps his hands together)
Obviously the biggest news of the last week, and of several years now, is CM Punk’s sudden disappearance from WWE. I’ve no idea what the news will be by the time this posts, as apparently it hit late Monday night while Unions were being Stated and RAW was actually on.
What do I think about it? Well, from a wrestling fan perspective it sucks. Despite the rapid rise of Daniel Bryan, and as big of a fan I am of him, the biggest reason I stayed watching WWE was CM Punk. My reentry into this happened around the reintroduction of ECW. That went away but the straight edge savior stayed. Throughout the years he gave us the epic, borderline evangelistic Royal Rumble promos, given during the actual Rumble inbetween running through his opponents like a hot knife through butter. We got his epic Elimination Chamber 2011 performance where he went epic troll on both Orton and the audience (“I ain’t scared, Oakland!”) and lasted until… of course, Cena won. But later that year, we got the Summer of Punk, the best and most surprising WWE storyline since the Invasion, maybe? But this one didn’t suck.
Although it could’ve been even better as seen in my criminally overlooked column seen here. (kinda eerie seeing BD & I discuss what happens when Punk leaves)
From a human perspective? I’m fine with it, if it’s what he really wants. I can relate all too well to being dissatisfied with your job, something I imagine I’m not alone with amongst all peoples. My first job was as the sole employee of a retail outlet of a hobby with some of the worst types of customers. I got paid something criminally low and the boss (a full-time cop) ended up screwing me out of thousands of dollars. Should’ve quit when I had the chance. My second job, as a cog in the savings industry, was actually way more humane and paid way better than the first one. Nevertheless, a year after college I realized it wasn’t where my heart was, I started having anxiety attacks, quit and moved across the country. I was thisclose to going from listening to The Strokes to having one.
I titled this column “A Big Push… Off A Ledge” because there’s two possibilities right now, either it’s a work or real.
If it’s real… the WWE has to get their shit together. There’s no other way to say it. The comments section here sometimes goes back and forth on whether if someone were to leave, they’d take viewers with them. It’s hard to say, and this situation will be a good examination. No doubt Punk has hardcore fans (appropriate given his musical tastes) that likely roll their eyes at the John Cenas and Rybacks that are there now. What reason do they have to stick around? The benchpress competitions and backstage skits? It also doesn’t exactly set a good example for the other guys. If a top-level talent can feel put-upon and unwanted… what will happen to the boys hoping to get there one day? Will they strive and sacrifice only to be overlooked by Cena and Orton again? Or another returning big name, like a Batista or a Mr. Ass? Punk is a huge, main event level guy. Now they’re short one, and who will they get to take his place? Batista’s forty-five years old and only back for a bit. Do they stop picking on Dolph Ziggler? Or on Kofi Kingston? Bring back Evan Bourne and force him to get sleeves?
If it’s a work… ooh, it’s getting a little too real. I read a quote by Joss Whedon once where he said you have to give people not what they want but what they need. This could all be a big plan to have some triumphant “people versus power” victory at Mania… but it won’t be that triumphant if you frustrate and alienate your audience by pushing them too far. WCW did this by making heels (and especially the nWo) so dominant that you could almost guarantee a victory for them every match, or a hollow victory for the face. To use another artistic metaphor, Hitchcock had a scene in one of his earlier movies where a bus blew up, that contained a little boy and his puppy. He learned from that to never do that again. He pushed the audience too far and lost them.
And furthermore, why didn’t they do this the first time during the Summer of Punk II? The whole underlying plot of that story was Punk being frustrated at how the company was being run, how Vince didn’t care about the fans and how the same guys are being shoved into our faces. And it was resolved by… Punk pretty much forgetting his very valid issues with Triple H and Cena, joking with the former and teaming with the latter, and eventually turning heel even though the fans agreed with him and the issue was never addressed. Ryder was further buried, Bryan lost in seconds at Wrestlemania that year, and we still got plenty of John Cena and Sheamus. Now you’ve got Daniel Bryan against Triple H and Orton instead of Vince and Cena. I love Bryan, but it’s kind of like when they rebooted “Spider-Man” the same decade his first movie came out.
There’s just no telling what’s going on, but to not talk about it is to risk being ignored in one of the biggest events, possibly ever if it’s real. I can’t think of anyone just flat-out quitting save for “Stone Cold” Steve Austin more than a decade ago. There’s always been an uneasy balance between the wrestlers and the WWE, especially when their main competition WCW folded. True, they couldn’t just up and jump ship to as much or more money like they could in the nineties, but there’s still variables. The wrestlers need the WWE (for now) because the WWE is the Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Disney of “sports entertainment.” Now maybe one day a Mark Cuban or half-crazed lotto winner will form their own organization with a major network TV deal, health insurance, guaranteed time off and generous salaries and cause Vince to finally keel over. But it ain’t now. But the WWE needs the wrestlers, too. Just as Vince learned with the XFL, you need the best of the best. The XFL was comprised mostly of guys that couldn’t hack it in the NFL. You don’t want Punk to retire so soon, Bryan to quit to join the Peace Corps, Ziggler to leave for stand-up and acting and have to replace them with guys that are frankly not that good or not ready. And there seems to be way less lifers in the business now. The Rock and Chris Jericho are positive examples, Hogan and Flair are cautionary tales. Morrison, Phoenix, and recently Kaitlyn have all quit to pursue different things at very young ages. The WWE doesn’t need more where that came from.
I suppose the only thing we can do is wait and see, buy Punk’s merch before it’s all pulled, and appreciate the memories if nothing else. I give you… my favorite Elimination match, which just happens to have John Morrison, believe it or not. Enjoy.
James A. Sawyer graduated with a degree in English/Creative Writing in 2011. He had a hardcore match with a car, and moved to New York in this economy. Clearly Daredevil is not the only man without fear.