Creative Control: Cult of Personality (CM Punk, Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, Kassius Ohno/Chris Hero)

There was much celebration as I once again possess a home computer.  After almost a month of exploits from a dead monitor, a dead motherboard requiring a new computer, and a malfunctioning hard drive, things have finally come back to normal and I no longer have to try to crank out copy during my lunch hours.  I probably spent two hours the other night just randomly searching the internet just enjoying the freedom of access.  Really makes me marvel at how we lived so well without this level of connectivity 20 years ago.

Second Thoughts:
There was no response to my column last week where I laid out a staging of Romeo and Juliet against the backdrop of professional wrestling.  Either no one had a comment, or everyone has given up on reading my column.  The only comment came from CB regarding my outlook of the WWE following the universally condemned Royal Rumble and the walk out by CM Punk.  CB thinks it is still possible to salvage Bryan’s storyline.  I am not sure how.  Like I said last week, there are plenty of ways to give Bryan the title and give him a memorable run at the top.  The “big” moment however (claiming the title at Wrestlemania) is gone.  Putting him in the title match at this point will just appear like desperate booking and diminish the story.

A Sincere Form of Flattery
The big news around the WWE is still the status of CM Punk.  Some people still question whether or not this is a storyline or a legitimate conflict between the wrestler and the company.  As the days go by and neither party is saying anything, the evidence indicates it is legitimate.  WWE dodged a bullet with Raw being in Omaha last Monday.  The crowd periodically erupted into a few “CM Punk” chants, but it was not very sustained and they did not hijack the show like the Royal Rumble crowd, or the Raw audience from Cleveland the Monday after.

They will not always be so lucky.  Tonight, Raw is in Los Angeles.  While not known for being a “bizarre world” crowd like Toronto, Chicago, Philadelphia, or New York, there is a much larger likelihood that the wrestlers will have to compete against the crowd if they are not enchanted with the product.  Given the fact they have booked John Cena versus Randy Orton on the show, that likelihood is much higher.  It will continue to grow as the WWE refuses to even acknowledge the situation on-air, with the problem reaching a boiling point at Wrestlemania if the situation is not resolved.

Therefore, the WWE needs to come up with something that addresses “the CM Punk issue” on-air that can be used to the benefit of the company/shows for the duration that Punk chooses to remain at home.  They should avoid addressing it in a way that  does not make the relationship with him worse.  It is a tricky tight rope to walk, but I have a possible solution.

The WWE should develop a loose association of wrestlers, who openly admit to admiring/idolizing Punk.  Each of these wrestlers should share some characteristics with Punk, be they technical experts, “indy darlings,” or anti-establishment characters.  In promos, they will once in a while mention how they respected Punk in that he remained true to himself and fought authority and management and proved everyone wrong.  That it was his talent and force of will that gave the company no choice but to give him that chance.  It is this new crop of rebels, rejects, and write-offs that is picking up the torch for every guy who drives 300 miles to wrestle in front of 20 people and dreams of making it big.  They are the new voices for the voiceless.  The ones who may not be GQ gorgeous, but can take the breath away of everyone in the audience.  These men will be there for each other when need be, but most importantly, will bust their ass every night to steal the show and make the crowd remember that they are watching a wrestling show.

By taking this route and acknowledging CM Punk’s absence, the crowd will hopefully let the chants die down and start cheering for these new wrestlers of the unnamed “Cult of Personality.”  If the chants persist, try to use them as the rallying cry for these wrestlers.  By selecting the right collection of talent, the WWE can spin an explosive negative into a positive without demeaning or insulting Punk and increasing the animosity in the current situation.

The further benefit is it creates options for a return by Punk.  They can go with Punk coming back and bringing the group of wrestlers together as a cohesive unit to take on The Authority and their designated champions in a stable war of “WWE ideals” versus “the counter culture.”  Punk could come back as a heel, calling all of them pale imitations that tried to get themselves over by cashing in on his name and reputation.  It is even possible for Punk to come back, make a gesture to some of them appreciating what they did, but instead is attacked as this new talent feels they have done more than Punk ever could and they have stepped out of his shadow and become the best in the world.

Of course the big question is who would comprise this collection that embraces the ideals of Punk?  The first two choices on my list are Seth Rollins and Sami Zayn.  When I laid out my plans for the dissolution of the Shield several weeks ago, I had Rollins come out victorious in the feud with his former hounds of justice.  I gave him an angry rebel image, looking to strike out on his own and prove he was the best member of the Shield, but the one with the smallest ego.  It would play perfectly into that image by him acknowledging his respect and admiration for Punk.  A guy who went it alone and dominated everyone he faced.  Rollins can even acknowledge that Punk beat the Shield single-handedly in a handicapped match, and that he hopes to reach such heights on his own.  Zayn of course, has been blowing away audiences on NXT since his debut.  He’s had **** classics with Antonio Cesaro and others.  He has the indy-circuit credibility akin to CM Punk as well as not having the traditional look of a typical WWE superstar.  His moveset and skill is perfect to win the crowd over.

If I were the WWE, I would consider contacting Chris Hero and bring him back.  As I understand it, they let go of “Kassius Ohno” because they could not come up with anything for him creatively on the main roster.  Here is another well-known independent wrestler, who forces his way into the company to fill the void left by CM Punk.  He can fight his way through the ranks, building himself up as the next great independent sensation that makes it big.

I would not go with trying to have Daniel Bryan take over the CM Punk chants or spend much time talking about it.  While he is the obvious choice, I feel Bryan has done enough on his own and should not be used to try to win the crowd over.  This alternative creates the chance to get new talent over, which is something the WWE desperately needs on the main roster as Wrestlemania XXX shapes up to be dominated by part-time and returning stars from 5-10 years ago.

This is not a perfect plan.  It runs the risk of massively backfiring.  It is however unique and different, giving newer talent a chance to shine.  And at the end of the day, isn’t that what so many of us are asking from WWE right now as we get ready to see John Cena and Randy Orton face each other for the million umpteenth time in the main event tonight?

Until next time, I relinquish creative control.

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