IN LAIMAN'S TERMS: 30 Thoughts... CM Punk, The Tag Team Division, Divas, Among Others
By Al Laiman
Oct 11, 2012 - 11:12:06 PM
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IN LAIMAN'S TERMS: 30 Thoughts
1. Conflicting reports have arisen about the already-infamous CM Punk incident at the end of Monday's RAW. Everything ranging from Punk hitting the wrong guy to the guy who supposedly did it bragging on Twitter, serious disciplinary reaction to complaints of none... The only consistent thing in all of the discussions is that it's got people talking. Someone once said that any press is good press, and while someone running a Senate campaign may not agree, wrestling is getting mainstream exposure. Someone commented in this week's 30 Thoughts on RAW that it could be an elaborate worked-shoot in order to make wrestling feel real again. Given the lengths to which WWE has gone in recent years, would that really surprise anyone if it was?
2. I tend not to read the comment section of any article whatsoever, but the one on the first report of CM Punk's incident intrigued me, mostly because of people questioning CM Punk's integrity as a person. Many told of his treatment of fans and how he has a reputation for being a jerk to them, which is news to me. If you want to hear a positive story about CM Punk, I've got one. I know a family in Indiana, PA that I call my "wrestling family". They put me up many times when I was out traveling for shows and treated me like I was one of their own. One of the major independent companies out there is the International Wrestling Cartel, which they attend on a regular basis, and during his time on the indies, CM Punk was on the card. Many of the wrestlers called them their wrestling family as well, Punk being one of them. At a WWE house show in Johnstown, they went up to security and asked them to tell CM Punk that his IWC wrestling family was there to see him. Within minutes, Punk came out and spent time with them, signed pictures, and was as pleasant as ever. Is this to invalidate those who may have had negative experiences? No, but I felt in light of recent events, the man deserves respect for what he has done positively as well.
3. CM Punk is the number two star in WWE right now, and is arguably the only one on John Cena's level. Plenty of arguments can be made about who is number three and four, but CM Punk has reached that status where he is believable against John Cena, the Rocky Maivia to his Stone Cold, if you will. This is something that Cena has needed for a long time, and overnight Punk transformed into one with his worked-shoot promo last year in July. Seeing a common trope here?
4. I'd also like to say that this Dario guy who is claiming to be the one who messed with Punk in the crowd, you give all wrestling fans a bad name. I encourage everyone to treat professional wrestling as if what you are seeing live is actually happening and to get as into the show as you possibly can. However, going beyond that invisible line and threatening to push someone down the stairs or hitting them because they're near you? Not only does this group you into the category of douchebag wrestling fans that keep the rest of us from having nice things, but of all the people in the world to challenge to a fight, I don't believe a professional wrestler should be high on your list!
5. I don't think it's too much to ask for wrestling fans to show a little decorum. The performers in a show may seem larger than life, but if you push one down the stairs from behind, they're going to get hurt. I don't care how much you hate a perceived character in a show, there is nothing about this notion that should be in any way glamorized or encouraged.
6. The tag team division is on fire right now, isn't it? Can anyone remember a time that the tag division was the primary focus of the show? Even in 2000, arguably the most recent golden age of tag team wrestling, can you remember the titles being given this much legitimacy?
7. Where once grouping two singles stars into a tag team was seen as a negative thing, now it's being done as a way to give two wrestlers more credibility. There are now more established tag teams on the roster than any time I can remember in recent history, and with the possible exception of Santino Marella and Zack Ryder, all of them are credible on some level. Ryder and Marella are just the two guys who did the one-minute Del Rio squashes and get booked poorly despite their positive crowd reaction, so why not get their television time out of the way by killing two birds with one stone and team them up?
8. Kane and Daniel Bryan (I refuse to acknowledge them by that stupid name Twitter picked) have been the major revitalizers (is that a word?) of this division resurrection. Who would've thought even a few months ago that the most featured and consistently entertaining stars on the roster would not only be those two, but they would become an incredibly over tag team? I thought their feud was interesting and had some potential, but nobody could've predicted this!
9. Sending the two of them to anger management classes with the creepy doctor from Hanna, not to mention telling Harold to shut up, was easily the funniest group of segments in a long time. These two have a natural chemistry together that always has the crowd invested. In a few weeks, they went over in the main event on Monday Night RAW in a match involving the World Champion. Remember all those times the tag team champions were buried at the hands of a handicapped match? That's been officially lampshaded as of late!
10. This is also the first example I can remember in a long time, if ever, of a true heel and face tag team. I'm not talking about the two contenders to the world title being paired together in an angle, but Daniel Bryan being a heel and continuing to act like one, and Kane remaining a face and continuing to act like one. In their constant game of oneupsmanship, they've retained their crowd status while somehow managing to work together when it matters. Bryan still yells in the faces of fans while Kane doesn't do anything to cross into heel territory. They cooperate long enough to come out victorious in their mission, and are back to declaring themselves as the Undisputed singular holder of the tag team championship.
11. Kane and Daniel Bryan aren't the only ones making waves in the division. Sin Cara has found a mentor in Rey Mysterio, as Rey-Rey is likely in the twilight of his career. Mysterio can teach Sin Cara what he needs to know about adapting to the WWE style. I also like how they've put over that they're a legitimate tag team by having similar ring attire. Little things like that can be important to establish a team.
12. On the heel side of things, easily the best team going is Rhodes Scholars. I remember when they randomly teamed up a few weeks ago, and I know I wasn't the only one clamoring for that to be a regular team. When it disappeared for awhile, I assumed it was just a one-off, but low and behold, they attacked the tag team champions after their diner adventure. It kinda gave away the ending of the tag tournament, unless they go with a surprise and have MysteriCara pull it out. The good thing about that is either way, the championship match with Anger Management will be good, if not great.
13. Pairing Sandow with Rhodes was a great idea. Rhodes has supposedly been at the edge of the main event for a good two years now, and just hasn't been able to get that last little push that he needs to be a legitimate contender. At least he's finally wearing knee pads, which he didn't for the longest time. He's had several gimmick shifts, and has ranged from bland to ridiculously hammy, but the bottom line is that he has the talent to be a mainstay in the heavyweight title division...
14. Which is where Damien Sandow comes in. I was impressed with the former Idol Stevens before he even debuted, as he made vignettes that reminded me of the Sean O'Haire gimmick with a little crazy Perry Saturn thrown in. The guy pulls off the smug, arrogant intellectual to perfection, and he's great at ad-libbing too, most specifically when he responded to the stupid "What?" chants with, "Thank you for your irrelevant opinion." I saw him live at a Smackdown taping shortly after he debuted, and if I wasn't already won over before, I was then. Sandow has all the tools it takes to be a huge star in the business, and watching him is always a joy.
15. What the hell ever happened to Percy Watson? I heard people rave about the guy when I watched NXT2 just to see Low-ki, and I haven't heard anything but a few dark matches since. I can't say I was impressed with the guy, but I figured he'd at least have made another appearance by now. I mean, they kept the Genesis of McGillicutty...
16. Sara Del Ray is apparently going to be the Diva trainer from now on, but I can't tell you how much I wish she was coming in to wrestle. She's damn impressive, for those of you who are unfamiliar with her work, and a very nice person on top of it. She wrestled the lovely Daizee Haze and it was better than most Divas matches in the last two years. It didn't even end with a roll-up!
17. It's a shame that so much of the actual talent in the Divas division has gone to waste. They dropped the ball on Awesome Kharma, which I can't figure out how that's even possible. After that return at the Royal Rumble, she was set up to not only be the boss of the Divas division, but possibly the first legitimate contender to take on male competitors. Instead, they had her never appear again, and she was released four months later. How much potential was wasted there?
18. Beth Phoenix appears to be on her way out as well, and she was one of the few still worth watching. Speaking of wasted potential, they had the Divas of Doom tag team with Beth and Natalya, and what did they do with it? Had Kelly Kelly go over them constantly with roll-ups after getting destroyed, and then gave Natalya flatulence for a few months. That really helped out her career, didn't it? Then, ever since Beth lost the title, she's barely existed. It's hard to believe she once eliminated the Great Khali from the Rumble, seeing as she can't even win a match anymore.
19. Speaking of Kelly Kelly, she was released, and it absolutely broke my heart... that it took this long to happen. Five years in the business and she still hadn't learned to run the ropes. I mean granted, she did point around to the crowd with relative balance, so I suppose it's not entirely negative.
20. Claudio Castagnoli is doing a pretty decent job for himself as the US champion. I know he goes by Antonio Cesaro now, but come on... His five-language gimmick is working pretty well for him, and his repetoire seems to expand by the week. That new ultra European uppercut he's using is only missing an AYYYYYYYE for awesome. It's right up there with that cradle Styles Clash he did on big Brodus Clay. The guy is deceptively strong, that's for sure.
21. Speaking of Captain Brodus and the Funkateers, rumor has it that they're pairing up the TROOF with the Funkasaurus. This isn't a bad idea, as it's along the same lines as Santino and Ryder, sans the repeated character destruction the latter two have suffered. They finally seem set on pushing Kofi as a singles star again, so TROOF is left on his own with Little Jimmy. Brodus desperately needs something to do, since he's either winning jobber matches or the Big Show is making him look like a tool. Plus, the potential for HAM in the tag division increases with their alliance.
22. Isn't everyone glad the Big Show is back in the title picture? Isn't this adding a whole new element to the product? Aren't you glad they turned him heel and stripped him of any interesting qualities and personality? It's sad, because I genuinely liked the guy before this turn and really enjoyed how he always seemed to be having fun. Now, in between making sure that Brodus Clay never looks credible, he just takes up space, walks around, and yells in between doing incredibly slow and uninteresting moves. Who thought this was a good idea again?
23. Say what you want about him, but Vince McMahon wrestled a match at 67-years-old, and fortunately it wasn't a complete embarrassment like the Bret Hart debacle. He's more effective when he's not around all the time, and when he turns on that Mr. McMahon voice, it works more often than it doesn't. It is an interesting situation though, as CM Punk was doing things to McMahon and getting booed for it that most other times in WWF/E history would've gotten him over as a face.
24. The character of Vince McMahon has been great at helping wrestlers get over, and I expect the Punk situation to be no different, assuming no immediate action is taken on the incident front. Between him and Mick Foley, Punk has been set up to be the ultraheel, and hopefully he continues his strong promos and ring work and gives us the Punk/Rock feud that I know I'm dying to see.
25. Mick Foley though is something else. His record post-retirement for getting someone over is unreal. On the way out, he helped make Triple H a main-eventer. Since then, names like Randy Orton and Edge owe a great deal of respect for the work Foley did with them. Granted, he did try with Carlito as well, but you can't really blame that on Foley. I'll never forget being there live in Hershey as Foley made himself bleed while yelling in Randy Orton's face. The intensity he brings to promos while at the same time managing to put over the other guy huge, my only hope is that he's training someone else to do the same thing, because there are only so many times he'll be able to come back.
26. Depending on how the Legends contract situation shakes out, I think Edge could be used in this capacity. Edge isn't quite on the level of Foley in terms of the promo department, but he is a former wrestler that the younger generation can at least remember when he was a full-time superstar. He can definitely be an asset to the company, being utilized a few times a year to help others. His work with John Cena earlier this year was perfect, and being a comic foil to Anger Management also worked really well. Some stars induce a groan when they make random returns, but Edge isn't one of them.
27. Speaking of comebacks, the next time Roddy Piper comes back, can we please have him maybe only two sheets to the wind before he begins to cut a promo? When the man is on his game, he can talk with the best of them, but in such reminiscent disasters as the Cyndi Lauper promo, it takes Heath Slater selling a gold record to the head to make it interesting. We know he can do it, especially when he's confronting John Cena about the Nexus or what Kane is doing to him, but when he's randomly chanting "Y-2-J!" at the wrong spot, it's really not helping anyone.
28. Slaters Gonna Slate; Heath Slater's little band of attackers finally has him doing something other than jobbing to nostalgic stars. It's good that Drew McIntyre has a chance to resurrect what was a promising career just a few short years ago, even if I didn't care for him at the time. Unfortunately, Jinder Mahal is also involved, but at least he's not the one in charge of the stable. I know how much Hustle would love that...
29. I'd like to have a lot more crowds like the one this past week, minus the obvious. 2012 has seen more great crowds than any other year in recent memory, though it's going to be hard to outdo the RAW after WrestleMania. A hot crowd can make even a bad show better. A dead crowd, like the one two weeks ago, can make a decent show seem longer and less interesting. Not to mention, who doesn't remember some of the biggest pops they've ever heard? Is there anything that makes a career-defining moment even more legendary than an insane crowd reaction? On the same token, do you think an instance such as Foley's first world title win would be as fondly remembered if it weren't for one of the most massive pops in history when Austin's music hit?
30. It was nice to come up with some thoughts on the wrestling scene today without having to watch the show at the same time. I've had these things on my mind, and with what transpired at the end of RAW on Monday Night, what better way to share them? So I ask you, what do you think will transpire with the CM Punk situation? How do you like the potential for a new age of tag team wrestling? What can the Diva's division do to be considered less of a joke? Is there anything redeeming for Big Show right now? Ever been a part of a massive pop or in the crowd for a legendary moment? Is there another star that can return to help put over the new generation besides Foley and Edge? Let's hear it! Enjoy your evening, everyone!
IN CASE YOU MISSED LAST WEEK'S EPISODE