“I’m here to make this fun again.”
Right now is an exciting time in the world of wrestling, at least as far as the WWE is concerned. Recently, CM Punk won the WWE World Championship title from John Cena, but his contract expired. He was eventually resigned, but not before WWE owner Vince McMahon was ousted from his position and replaced with former World Champion and son-in-law, Triple H. So, going into Summerslam this Sunday, the 14th of August 2011, the WWE have presented us with a rematch: CM Punk Verses John Cena, with Guest Referee, Triple H.
That isn’t the exciting part. In fact that’s rather run of the mill, if not rather lacklustre apart from the fact that CM Punk is actually in the main event, and beating John Cena. Perhaps some of you reading this have no idea what I’m talking about, so let’s rewind. John Cena, is a 34 year old with a sort of hero role in the WWE. He’s clean cut, supports the military, fights for what he believes in and never gives up. Essentially, he is Captain America, if Captain America were a wrestler, and Steve Rogers was a rapper before injected by super soldier serum. That’s right, before his current role model inspiring act in the WWE; he pretended to be a white, rapping wrestler. As far as actual in ring skills go, he’s mostly a brawler, similar to Steve Austin but without the aggressiveness. He does display aggressiveness in his move set when required, but Steve Austin did it in every match and every word he ever spoke. John Cena has done some indie work, but mostly trained in OVW and debuted in the WWE in 2002.
As we turn to the 32 year old, CM Punk, we edge ever closer to what is truly exciting about this storyline in wrestling today. CM Punk is not like John Cena. His gimmick, as it’s called, is based on his real life beliefs of being Straight Edge. This is the premise of his character, regardless of whether he’s a good guy or a bad guy, but it simply means that he abstains from drugs, alcohol and casual sex. His most notable feud before the WWE was against Raven in both Total Nonstop Action and in Ring of Honor, although in the latter promotion he also put on some fantastic matches with Samoa Joe. This is possibly the most distinct difference between CM Punk and John Cena: CM Punk’s training and fan following largely comes from his indie appearances. CM Punk made his WWE debut in 2006, four years after Cena and after he had already been champion. CM Punk has risen through the ranks and now, not only is he actually being put on the main event against John Cena, but he’s actually being put over.
While it certainly isn’t the first time that WWE has ever put the WWE title on a wrestler who wasn’t made by the WWE. That’s not really the issue; the issue is that CM Punk is being allowed to say what he wants on air. It’s created a sort of strange call back to World Championship Wrestling, where Eric Bischoff would rhyme off spoilers from the WWE shows. Due to WCW Nitro being a live show, and Raw being taped before hand, this gave WCW the edge in knowing what was going to happen and being able to counteract it. This would eventually back fire, but it was a strange break from what is called “kayfabe” in the wrestling business. In other shows this is called breaking the fourth wall, but wrestling is probably the only sport to have such a concept. Look, we all know that the matches are scripted in advance, and so is most of the trash talking between wrestlers, but the physicality of the moves is absolutely real and dangerous. If you think otherwise, talk to the recently retired Adam Copeland whose in ring antics have resulted in Cervical Spinal Stenosis.
Strangely, the WWE seem to have given CM Punk free reign to say what he likes on air, which has resulted in Punk challenging the WWE on the mishandling of some of his friends in the WWE, including Colt Cabana and Zack Ryder, and most recently mentioning the employees who had been fired earlier in the week. Clearly, the WWE are aware of the Internet Wrestling Community, their opinions and mounting support of CM Punk and are at least letting him put some of their views out to air. On the one hand this allows John Cena to retort to the criticism that he is simply just a Hulk Hogan for the contemporary audience since Hulk Hogan’s knees no longer allow him to do a leg drop. He still tries, but he can’t. Honestly, I can see that his in ring presence is inspired by Hulk Hogan, yet so many current wrestlers grew up watching Hulk Hogan, and seeing Hulk Hogan wrestle is what got them interested in wrestling. If Cena wants to draw on what made Hulk Hogan famous, and we criticise him for it, we also have to turn to modern day directors, inspired by Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino, and reprimand them for their use of similar style and tactics.
On the other hand, CM Punk’s brutal honesty assures us the viewer that the WWE has at least heard our complaints, such as the WWE having become more PG, compared to the more risqué attitude era. Heck, CM Punk even manages to throw Cena’s past in body building in his face, because he says he couldn’t gave up on his dream to be a sports entertainer. That’s perhaps one of the main changes in the wrestling business over the past decade. Slowly, we’ve went from Cactus Jack breaking open Triple H’s head at the 2000 Royal Rumble to the current day where we can go months without seeing blood spilt at all. I don’t think the WWE is to blame here though. I think it’s just the nature of the sport at the minute that a younger generation is more interested than the older generation, which wasn’t the case almost a decade ago. Not to mention that the 90s were marked by the rise of anti-authority in all forms of media. Following the Cold War and horrible administrations of the 1970s and 80s I think a lot of the 90s generation found themselves resenting those that had come before for screwing up the world. This rebellion against authority was personified by Vince McMahon following the Montreal Screwjob of Bret Hart, and their hero to rally behind was Stone Cold Steve Austin. Steven Austin was a smoker, a drinker and constantly fought with almost everyone, stopping only to give two middle fingers to the man in charge. He formed a picture of exactly what many in the 90s felt, and wanted to do, but we don’t live in the 90s anymore. Perhaps the 2010s will see some steps taken toward a more gritty form of wrestling entertainment again but I doubt it. TNA have been trying to be the darker alternative to WWE for years and have never reached ratings close to those its heavyweight rival. Right now is a time for saying your prayers and taking your vitamins again, brother.
So as I said, it’s exciting times in wrestling at the moment, because strange things are happening. CM Punk said that quote at the top of the page a couple of weeks ago, and I think there is a change in the air. Wrestling will be fun again soon. For me, while I’ve always liked wrestling since I watched the McMahon-Hemsley Era in my childhood, in more recent years I’ve been an on and off again fan. It’s probably one of the few sports I actually take an active interest in and wrestling is apparent in my novel, Creed. Reading Creed (when it’s published) won’t give you intimate details of what goes on behind the scenes; for that, I suggest you go read one of the books by one of the WWE wrestlers, such as Adam Copeland on Edge. In Creed, I designed the main character, Christopher Charles Creed around the concept of a wrestler being a killer before he entered the profession. This didn’t actually stem from the Chris Benoit double murders, but rather another story about a person, whose name currently escapes me, who killed his training partner with a powerbomb. I thought about the grief of having to live with something like that, especially when your profession has such a physical capacity to it. Does it motivate you further, to become better so that something like that never happens again? Or do you drown your sorrows, say you’ll never be good enough and call it quits? The first option seems to me the most interesting, and it’s that line of thinking I pursue through Christopher Charles Creed. Maybe you guys will find that out for yourselves some day.
That about wraps up this blog. I had considered writing about the London riots, but that would have been painfully short. There are only two possible reasons that they might be looting; either in protest to cuts or to recent deaths. It doesn’t really matter what the reason is though, their actions didn’t reflect their aims and it was not an effective way of getting attention. Well, unless you wanted to go to jail. One hilarious thought is that, before the riots David Cameron was planning police cuts; now, he’s giving them more powers, such as the right to remove hoods and masks from criminals. It seems like whatever the point of the riots was, all they really did was shoot themselves in the foot.