I tweeted earlier in the week (@RTVWOW) that I wouldn’t be writing about RAW this week because I was too busy to watch live. Well, I somehow manahed to avoid the hoo-haw surrounding Punker and eventually watched RAW last night, and afterwards, obviously, I wanted to add my own two cents. First, however, i’ll warm up by mentioning a few other things from this week’s episode.
It would be remiss to mention Shawn Michaels, whose mark on the show, like everyone else’s, has been overshadowed by Punk. I think he made a good guest host (I guess that’s what he was) and didn’t intrude too much on the action. His interaction with Punk was money, and it is a showdown I think we’d all love to see if HBK wasn’t retired. I liked him superkicking Otunga and McGillicutty but not getting to Punk so he could keep his justifiably confident air he’s carried in recent weeks. What I didn’t like was the part of Michaels’ promo where he said it was impossible to stay away from WWE, and Jerry Lawler suggesting an in-ring return, something completely unfounded, and without any apparent reason other than to confuse the audience. Another thing I didn’t like was his superkick to Drew McIntyre. I was pleased to see McIntyre debut his tweaked schtik to established veterans, Booker T and DDP which came across well, only to be undermined by a superkick by Shawn. After that first seg, Punk was booked in a match with Kane. I was annoyed at that because it’s such a needless use of a Smackdown superstar breaking the brand extension. To be fair though, it shows a problem with the RAW roster – i.e, after Cena, who else could take a dominating babyface spot? Well, nobody really. I loved how Punk sold Kane being a monster though; despite the fact he was doing his job in making Punk look good, Punk helped him out by making him seem a scary prospect again. I liked how Punk walked out of the match because it shows his own confidence and puts over the #1 contender’s status. If he has a spot at the PPV with so much on the line, why is he bothered about wrestling Kane and possibly getting hurt …
Not much needs to be said about Cara-Bourne. It could have been a let-down given all the hype, but it wasn’t. They showcased each other really nicely and Cara showed a great improvement in his in-ring consistency. I hope they give these two a feud-of-respect style thing, eventually turn Bourne heel and give him some mic-time because that’s really what he needs to get over now.
Big Show vs Del Rio in a cage wasn’t a great match in itself, but I did like most of the Mark Henry participation. I was unsure about him ripping the door off, because his botching of that is so well known it didn’t seem that fresh. I liked him busting Show through side of the cage more though. His actions came across as genuinely scary, and at this point, i’m totally sold on Mark Henry as a monster heel. After listening to the fantastic latest podcast from IWantWrestling, I now have a much greater appreciation for Henry as a heel. He’s still not a great worker, but he can be really sadistically mean. They mentioned on the podcast how he once said to Rey Mysterio that he was going to ‘tear off his mask and tear right down to the white meat’, which is a great line, as was one last night when he said to Show, ‘If I charged for air, you’d better pay your bills’. My only problem with this is that it’s another inter-brand feud. It’s saving grace is that Big Show is probably the only person (at least the only babyface) of such a stature to make this so shocking.
Miz has made it as a legitimate main eventer, but, at least with me, he seems to have lost a lot of his fire behind him. Riley seems to be getting over though, so maybe it’s just me (and perhaps Riley will go on to be #2 face). While this was my perception going in to their tag match, and while I thought this week’s booking would be more of the same, I do love tornado tags and this actually became a very good tag match towards the end, with nice storytelling, drama, and a good finish, so I feel Miz, Swaggeer (who I was glad to see was treated seriously), Rey and Riley deserve kudos for that.
The main event, a tables match between John Cena and R-Truth, was ok, but showed how they do slightly lack that explosive chemistry together to make for a great match; as was lacking at Capitol Punishment. The finish to the match was really cool though with CM Punk, wearing a Stone Cold t-shirt moving the table Truth was about to get AA’d through before brawling with Cena and escaping another AA before pushing Cena in front of the table for Truth to spear him through. With a prone Cena, Punk walked up the ramp to the top and entered his familiar sitting down position before delivering one of the most memorable promos in recent history. Indeed, this was the most exciting thing to happen in wrestling since the debut of Nexus, and in terms of the immediate post-show firestorm, it is comparable in terms of the sensation it’s made.
At the start of it, I expected a run of the mill Punk promo (which is actually much better than ‘run of the mill’ anyway), but what we got was truly special, and led to me eventually tweeting that Punk is the greatest professional wrestler in the world right now.
Sitting in a cross-legged, peaceful position, eerily distant from the prone body of John Cena, Punk began spewing righteous hate. One of the first things Punk said was that he didn’t like how Cena got to the top by kissing Vince’s ass, and it was that soon that I knew something special was going on. Still, I thought it would be a limited storyline seed nodding to the cynical fans, but as Punk himself said, he broke straight through the 4th wall, mentioning ‘wrestling’, Hulk Hogan and The Rock (‘Dwayne’) as ass-kissers, Paul Heyman as a good guy instead of a failure, Brock Lesnar, New Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor (i.e. the competition), Colt Cobana, Triple H and Steph as bad for the future of the company in their official capacities, John Laurinaitis as a yes man and eventually the shortfalls in Vince’s management. By now, if you’re reading this, you’ll have seen it, so I wont go in to the words too much right now, but you should know, WWE definitely planned it – every word was carefully chosen (notice how TNA wasn’t mentioned?), so it makes it even clearer that everything Punk. It wasn’t just his calling out, out of kayfabe, of big names that made this promo, it was also the sheer truth he spoke. About how he has not gotten the right recognition for his talents, despite consistently showing how good he is as well as voicing what so many think are the problems with the company that are not being solved. I’m making this sound clinical when it wasn’t. In fact, it was the most natural promo i’ve seen in a long time. Jim Ross had some very wise words about it, and PG wrestling, on his website:
“The first thing that must be in place for a promo to be great is that it must be natural ala from the heart and not from memory plus the talent must believe in what they are saying and not simply verbally filling time. Every promo must have a reason for taking place much akin to why most matches occur especially on PPV or in TV main events … Punk’s promo was reminiscent of the Attitude Era but it was totally PG. PG can be edgy but it doesn’t need to travel an uncreative, low road to be attitudinal or cool.”
This too was what was great about Punk’s promo, as well as what is good about the best promos. This is one of those that could be shown as a tutorial promo to any young guys or guys in the back who struggle in that area.
Another reason why this has become such a firestorm is because of the sheer possibilities of it. There are spoilers for next week’s RAW out there, but I have so far managed to avoid them, thankfully! Listening to Dave Lagana’s (@Lagana) latest IWantWrestling podcast, there were a lot of interesting points made, mainly regarding the non-WWE entities Punk mentioned: ROH, New Japan, Colt Cabana, Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar, while insisting that there wasn’t ONE word of that promo that wasn’t calculated. For instance, the fact that the original ECW invasion was almost 10 years ago to the day. Now I don’t think ther’ll be a ROH or New Japan ‘invasion’, but I can imagine Punk taking the WWE title to indy shows for promotions like the two that were mentioned. Indeed, in that vein, i’d love to see Punk winning the title and ‘leaving’ the WWE, referring to himself as an ‘indpendent wrestler’ and actually going to shows while being filmed by gonzo style WWE cameras and defending the title against popular ROH or New Japan wrestlers like MVP or Eddie Kingston, to name but a few. That might seem a bit far-fetched, but so would have Punk’s shoot, especially given the fact that Punk chose his words so carefully. Then you have people like Heyman and Lesnar, who have worked with WWE and come close to doing so again. With books out to promote, could they return and side with Punk? Could Stone Cold fit in to this? Well, his interactions with Punk have been no mistake, which made me think that, possibly he could take on Stone Cold at probably WrestleMania, or rather – seen as that would book two matches of current stars against former stars – a tag match between Cena and Punk against Rock and Stone Cold. Cena’s possible allignment with Punk may seem to make no sense at this point, but based on the one thing i’ve heard about next week (which I wont share), it could make more sense.
These are but a couple of possibilities, but the possibilities seem endless. Another thing is a potential move away from PG and a return of an ‘attitude era’. As JR says, we don’t need PG to end, and it should be remembered that the Attitude era was very much of its time. What it might show, however, is a shift towards being more edgy and unpredictable, giving more of a voice to the talent and really creating more diverse content, and none of that necessitates a change from PG.
All this from one promo, and it really shows the power of the promo in the hands of the right wrestler. I wont speculate much more for now, after all, it was only about six minutes of action – but the excitement it’s generated can only be a good thing!
Many are calling this Punk’s 3:16 moment, and i’m starting to think they’re right. Are the winds of change finally blowing?