Early January 2013
Doctor's Orders: January 27, 2013 - The Dark Knight Gets Another Shot at Wrestling's Man of Steel
By The Doc
Oct 28, 2012 - 5:00:16 AM
"Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it" - Lou Holtz
CM Punk let himself down. In the past, he had always thought of himself as being the caliber of human being that was above certain levels of mistakes. He worked hard through the years to ensure that his mental stability was a cut above most everyone else’s. When he thought about it, he was certainly not trying to be arrogant or elitist – at least, not in the last few years since he’d matured. It was a simple matter of emotional blood, sweat, and tears. To most the guys in the locker room, Punk was psychologically what John Cena was physically – just better developed.
So, it shocked Punk when he made such a grave mistake. He did not think himself capable of it. He allowed one loss to define six months of his life. The worst thing that you can do, as a human-being, is to take yesterday’s pain and bring it into tomorrow. It’s an unwritten sin that causes so many to be less than they are capable of. Most people would spend the weeks and months following a negative event beating themselves up, thinking about what they could have done differently, and struggling to let go, subsequently unable to move on. Yet, there are a series of crossroads – exits, if you will, rather than just one crossroad - that a person reaches when they are spiraling into a pattern of despair that allow them to go down a better path. Punk’s mental training really came into the forefront in one of those moments. In that regard, people should strive to be more like Punk. He made the conscious decision to accept his loss to John Cena, own up to it spiritually, professionally, and mentally, and then figure out a way to make himself better.
Well, good for him. He managed to shake off his lengthy losing streak thanks, in part, to finding the seed of equivalent benefit in his major defeat, becoming the #1 contender to the WWE Championship for the Royal Rumble by winning a one-night tournament on the first Raw of 2013. The problem was that his great start to the New Year led him to a rematch with the man whom he had allowed to start his downward spiral last summer. He was Chicago’s Dark Knight in July of last year, defending the very title he now sought to regain on the anniversary of his historic victory in 2011. Unfortunately, he ran into the unstoppable force that was John Cena, a Superman of wrestling impervious to defeat.
Cena smiled thinking about another match with Punk. One win was not enough. Punk had been the on-screen leader of the Cena resistance, voicing the once voiceless opinions of the insignificant specks in the WWE Universe that questioned Cena’s every move and drove him to snap. In Cena’s mind, he owed Punk another humiliating loss. Although, he had to admit, it was going to be difficult to find the destructional motivation that he used to embarrass the Chicago Made superstar in the Second City.
On that night, with all the intangibles swinging his way including a previously perfect record against Cena in PPV matches and the edge that came with it, Punk could not get the job done. So, what could possibly be different six months later at the Rumble?
You cannot blame Cena for being so confident. He has not lost a match since 2011. One calendar year without a loss will do that to a person. Nobody has figured out a way to beat him, especially since he put on the proverbial red kryptonite ring and lost his inhibitions. Righteous men can be virtually unstoppable and all Cena has done since he snapped following his Wrestlemania match with The Rock last year is embrace his virtuosity. He has been as even keeled as ever throughout the course of his domination. He believes so strongly in himself and always has. The difference since April 1, 2012 has been that he’s found added motivation in fighting not just for the people that love him and embrace his ideals, but also fighting against those that hate him and his principles.
In the past, even when angry, you could still see the passion and excitement to simply be a part of the sport he had grown up watching as a kid. There was that childlike twinkle for years, despite all the haters. That’s gone. To those that don’t really know him, the new emotion behind his eyes might be mistaken for disdain; as if John Cena hates YOU…and Punk. Naturally, that’s what his hecklers want, but that doesn’t make it true. There’s more to the man than that and, if you think otherwise, then you’re selling him short. In reality, Cena is just not putting up with any more B.S.
Remember his words from last spring?
“I want you to listen carefully,” Cena stated with the tone of man teaching his child a life lesson. “I will say this ONE TIME and one time only. To every man, woman, and child that ever bought a ticket to see John Cena wrestle, I sincerely thank you. For ten years, I’ve given you everything that I have and you’ve been the reason that I get up and go to work three hundred days a year. One day, when my Hall of Fame induction ticket is punched, I hope you’ll be there to see it. It has been my honor and privilege to represent you as the face of this company and I will continue to do so for as long as I can.”
“NOW, to those of you that hate me, throw trash at me, and spit on me and what I stand for…” Cena continued, changing his tone of voice to that of a football coach scolding his quarterback at the break for three first half interceptions. “Don’t think for one second that YOU’RE about to get what YOU want!”
Fans want the bad guy to eventually “get his,” as wrestling history shows. The vocal minority, accordingly, so badly want to see Cena lose. That would be all well and good if Cena were a bad guy. He’s not a bad guy, though; no more now than before. He just is not accepting unwarranted criticism, anymore. He may have snapped a few more times than he ever has over the last several months, but he has maintained the same respect for those people that pay their money and happen to dislike him. You can respect someone and still call them out for being an idiot. He has had many conversations with Bret Hart about 1997, when the Hitman shunned the rebellious American audiences while still embracing the fans from the rest of the world that still stood by him. Cena has a better understanding, now, of where Hart was coming from.
Imagine if Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, who have given their fan bases Hall of Fame resumes (as John Cena has to his), were treated poorly and unjustly disrespected. If in a rare, more outspoken moment in which one of them pointed out the fallacy of the claims against him, would he not be justified? Not an athlete on the planet has been as justified in his recent retorts to the audience members as Cena, whose efforts on behalf of the WWE have made, as a byproduct, the people that follow it, look great – look better than they have in a long time (and maybe ever), all while being constantly ridiculed.
In wrestling, you can measure the worth of a superstar based on the business success he creates and the critical quality of the work he does in the ring. Well, you can put Cena’s “best of” list against anyone’s in the history of wrestling and every single member of the WWE Hall of Fame (that he’ll one day be inducted into on the first ballot) will tell you that “John Cena is one of the greatest…ever.” Still, he has been heckled around the world with chants of “You can’t wrestle” and criticized for his workrate. And while the worldwide economy has been in a recession since 2008, pro-wrestling has been in one since 2001; yet, with Cena at the helm, the WWE is more globally recognized than ever and Wrestlemania has been built into a wildly profitable brand in and of itself, sought out by cities around North America (and likely beyond). He’s been given very little credit for that.
So, what goes around comes around. In a relationship, you cannot treat your significant other like crap when they don’t deserve it and expect that there won’t be hell to pay later. You ever heard of that expression, “I love you, but I don’t like you anymore”? In Cena’s case, he has respected all of us for a long time, but he no longer likes the boo birds.
Punk is the locker room representative of the people that Cena no longer cares to ignore. When he addresses Punk, it is as if he is addressing those young men in Miami that spit on him after what should have been the most important post-victory celebration of his life last year. Every time he speaks, it is as if he is slapping him (and them) in the face for years of frustration and pent up aggression. Punk actually had the nerve to mock him with an obviously prepared rap, a feeble attempt to get under his skin and get him to give the scoundrels something that they desire. No. There was no freestyle rapping. In fact, Cena flat out stated that he would never cut another rap on WWE TV for as long as he lived. Not even in his Hall of Fame induction speech years down the road, when the people had grown up and forgotten his words from long ago, would he show them one single, solitary sign of favoritism.
CM Punk will face his greatest challenge at the Royal Rumble. People like to say he’s wrestling’s Batman to Cena’s Superman and that, subsequently, he lacks any discernible powers necessary to defeat Cena. That statement may prove false. Punk is smarter. That’s his one advantage. He has an unquenchable thirst for success and he knows that Cena has one weakness that he can exploit en route to being successful. If you look back at the moments that saw Cena lose the championship, the majority were instances in which he was caught by surprise and was ill-prepared. Cena, in a manner that Punk respects to no end, prepares harder than anyone when the title is on the line. He studies tape for hours on end to find the Achilles heel of his opponent. Punk does the same and what he has found is a glaring hole in Cena’s resume:
-1st title reign ended when Edge cashed in Money in the Bank, unexpectedly
-2nd title reign ended when Edge caught him by surprise and interfered in his match
-3rd title reign ended with an unexpected injury
-4th title reign ended when Edge inserted himself into a match he wasn’t scheduled to be in
-5th title reign ended when Big Show cost him the championship…in a match with Edge
-8th title reign ended when Batista was given an unscheduled match against him
-11th title reign ended when Miz and R-Truth got involved in his Hell in a Cell match
If you catch John Cena by surprise, then you can beat him. Granted, nobody has been able to do that in quite some time, but the point still stands. Punk has one unique move that he can unleash if the right time presents itself. Cena knows his entire offense that he has used in the WWE, but there is one big move that he used frequently in the indies that he has not yet utilized. He knows that Cena has not watched his work in Ring of Honor. Cena told him as much long ago when the two were more cordial. It will take, literally, the perfect opportunity to connect with it, though. To bank an entire championship match on a scenario that has all of a 1-2% chance of happening is not ideal, but Punk doesn’t see much of an alternative. He threw everything he had at Cena and then some in Chicago and lost the title to him. He’ll take that low percentage, though. At least it gives him some sliver of hope that he can get the job done.
January 27, 2013
At the Royal Rumble, John Cena and CM Punk fought another epic battle.
In the waning moments of the thirty-five minute match, Cena went to the top rope to riskily make Punk famous. In the back of his mind, Punk actually thought that this could be the moment he’d hoped for. One thing he’d been expecting the entire match was for a certain black clad demon from Death Valley to make his presence felt. After all, it was expected that the Deadman would accept Cena’s challenge for a match at Wrestlemania, made last spring shortly after Cena’s attitude adjusted. 35-minutes in and no Undertaker? Perhaps Punk was wrong.
“Perfect,” thought Punk.
Cena stood perched on the top turnbuckle. Unbeknownst to him, Punk was making subtle moves in his direction. Inch by inch, the challenger got closer.
Once Cena realized that Taker was not actually going to physically show up, he had a premonition about Wrestlemania. He thought of what it would mean to him to end the Streak. He imagined riding an eagle to heights that soared higher than any other superstar in history. A ladder appeared in the clouds and Cena smiled as he rose above Rock, Austin, Taker, Bret, Hogan, Michaels, and Andre. “Greatest,” he whispered to himself.
…and ten seconds later, CM Punk was the WWE Champion again.
It was as if Cena didn’t even see Punk climb up and meet him on the top turnbuckle. Punk thought it odd that Cena was virtually expressionless, as if lost in a trance, when he punched him in the gut, doubling him over. He hooked Cena’s arms and pulled him firmly into his control. Then, he leaped backwards. Some part of Cena’s body crunched underneath him when they struck the mat…or maybe it was his own knee. With all the adrenaline running through his body, he couldn’t tell and he didn’t care. All that he cared about was rolling Cena over and making the cover.
Punk had always called it the Pepsi Plunge. The commentators applauded him for a “Pedigree” off the top rope. No matter the name of the move, the fact of the matter was that Punk had endured for over a half-hour, waiting for the moment that he so desperately hoped would come.
He kept thinking about his mental preparation. Far too often, people get caught up in the things that they cannot control. The only thing we really have control over is our own actions. Things happen and we respond to them. Life in one simple statement is a series of things happening and people reacting to them, so it’s the manner in which people react that matters most. Punk could have wilted after his summer ’12 loss and he could succumbed to the thought that history would repeat itself when he was unable to pin Cena for the first 35-minutes of this rematch. Instead, he believed in the impossible and he believed in himself. The right game plan and a little bit of luck (OK…a lot of luck) trumped the unstoppable force.
“Here is your winner and the NEW WWE Champion…C…M….PUNK!”
….His thoughts of mental fortitude echoed in his mind, along with Justin Roberts’ announcement, when he woke up in the hospital 12 hours later.
He had to be reminded about the attack he suffered at the hands of Cody Rhodes.