Wednesday, August 22, 2012
As The Punk Turns
I was listening to the A1 Wrestling podcast, which I recommend to any fan out there. There are some technical glitches, but it is two hours of some good wrasslin' talk. During the podcast the roundtable talks about the on going heel turn of the WWE champion CM Punk as he battles for respect against John Cena and the WWE. It was pointed out that this turn has been handled with a very methodical pace. It hasn't been rushed as Punk has been toeing the line after laying the smackdown on the Rock at RAW 1000. There might even be such an in-depth plan by creative for this turn that the champ hasn't main evented a WWE pay per view in recent memory, something that has given strength to Punk's claims of disrespect. That kind of planning by creative can, and will, be debated.
Since Punk stood over The Rock weeks ago it has been a treat to watch him dance around the direction of his character. For one he has a true reason to feel disrespected. He is one of the longest reigning champions in the history of the WWE. During that time he has had to give up the WrestleMania main event to Cena vs. Rock. To follow up he gave up main events for Brock vs. Cena, Cena vs. Johnny Ace, and most recently to Brock vs. HHH; two men not on the active roster after Monday night. The only thing more insulting would be going on before Michael Cole vs. David Otunga. I mean the WWE's October PPV main event! (Just kidding, I hope)
CM Punk has carried this company through the transfer of day to day power from Vince McMahon to Paul Levesque. The WWE is restructuring itself. They are replacing high ranking officials in the company too. Linda McMahon is taking her second shot at becoming a member of Congress. Also there is a rebuilding of the developmental system. All this happens as CM Punk keeps the company afloat by delivering a solid performance, along with a handful of other talents, be it at a house show or a top tier pay per view.
Now the time has come to begin moving forward. Summer Slam is behind us, and the build to WrestleMania has begun. That means the time for CM Punk to go to the dark side has begun. It's a tricky situation because the champ has a legion of loyal supporters, as seen on Monday night when the crowd continued to chant his name. That is why the slow burn on his current heel turn is essential.
With a few weeks until the Night of Champions PPV, it is time to pull the trigger. That is why Jerry Lawler is involved in the current storyline. For one, Punk is a huge fan of wrestling history and that includes the role Lawler played before his time as the dirty old man on Monday Night Raw. Punk remembers when the world watched as Lawler defended Memphis against Andy Kaufman, including the famous smack heard round the world on late night television. Punk knows if anyone can make him look like the devil incarnate it is the King of Memphis wrasslin.
Jerry Lawler will always be a fan favorite. He can't wrestle like he used to, but he can still tell a story. Short of kicking small babies, there is nothing Jerry can't do that the fans won't be behind. The dismantling of such a character is what is needed to cement CM Punk's heel turn. John Cena is almost as hated as he is loved. Beating on him may make you a villian in a middle school, but it makes you a hero in the frat house. Kicking in the King's teeth makes you dastardly in every corner of the WWE Universe, something needed to silence the chants of "CM Punk".
When it officially happens, and CM Punk crosses the line that can't be uncrossed, it will mean something. It is how pro wrestling used to be. Heel turns took a while to simmer so that when it happened the fans felt an emotional attachment to the action. This current turn of Punk has that kind of simmer. After weeks it has begun to heat up. At, or before, Night of Champions it will boil over. I for one hope it includes beating John Cena.
I've said it for weeks, but beating Cena in his hometown could be the kind of event that visually presents Punk as the personification of evil. Cena doesn't need the title to get over. No fan is going with or against him because he is champ. On the other hand, people will pay to see CM Punk get his. They'll pay all the way up to Royal Rumble when the Rock comes to save the WWE, and get his retribution from RAW 1000.
One thing John Cena has never done is the "over the hill" storyline. No one has ever questioned that his career is on the decline. A loss to CM Punk in Boston ignites that conversation. It is something that leads to Cena rebuilding himself and eventually winning the Royal Rumble to get his shot at redemption, and the WWE title, from The Rock. All of this is only possible with a true heel turn by CM Punk.
With this heel turn the WWE profits twice because Punk vs. Rock is a draw at the Rumble, and the redemption of John Cena leading into WM29 can be bigger than Rock vs. Cena from a year ago. Yet it all stems from where the WWE goes at this pay per view.
One thing is for sure, CM Punk is turning heel. Something the WWE has handled perfectly. Yet will they fumble the long term plans by trying to cash in on Cena vs. Rock II early? This whole scenario makes Night of Champions maybe one of the most important pay per views in recent WWE history because it could be the point we all look back on as a true defining point in the new WWE era. Then again it could also be the point where everything just stays the same, and another year passes where fans hopes are dashed by the WWE's greed and lack of vision.
No matter what, it all depends on CM Punk, which gives me more hope than I've had as a fan in a long long time.