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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Watch Out Daniel Bryan... You'll be CM Punk in 2 Years
By Mr. Tito
Feb 6, 2014 - 10:52:30 PM
Last year, I wrote several times that I felt history was repeating itself... 2013 for the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) felt very much like 2011. For 2011, the fans selected CM Punk to be "their guy" while WWE Management had other ideas. They had set plans for Alberto Del Rio to end SummerSlam 2011 as WWE Champion and nothing could change that. Del Rio won the Money in the Bank 2011 briefcase and cashed it in after CM Punk defeated John Cena at SummerSlam. The special guest referee for that match was Triple H and he brought controversy.
For 2013, fans selected Daniel Bryan to be "their guy" while WWE Management had other ideas. After he proved himself to overcome the WWE Wellness Policy violations, WWE management had set plans for Randy Orton to end SummerSlam 2013 as WWE Champion and nothing could change that. Randy Orton won the Money in the Bank 2013 briefcase and cashed it in after Daniel Bryan defeated John Cena at SummerSlam. The special guest referee for that match was Triple H and he brought controversy.
Though not perfectly the same, a common theme was present... Fans wanted a certain wrestler to be "their guy" (CM Punk during 2011, Daniel Bryan during 2013) while WWE Management had other ideas (Alberto Del Rio during 2011, Randy Orton during 2013). However, for Daniel Bryan during 2013, the WWE hasn't given up on Randy Orton. In fact, they are making him stronger and Orton will headline Wrestlemania 30. Worse yet, the WWE brought back his identical booking twin, Batista, to give Daniel Bryan 2 McMahon/Triple H favorites to overcome. At least with CM Punk during 2011, WWE management actually gave up on Alberto Del Rio and CM Punk was allowed to take back his WWE Title at Survivor Series 2011.
Fast forward to February 2014.
CM Punk, on the RAW following Royal Rumble 2014, reportedly asked to go home after meeting Vince McMahon less than 2 hours before RAW started. The reasons reported are burnout, injuries mounting, and disgust over WWE booking for Wrestlemania 30. I believe that CM Punk saw Batista coming back and receiving insta-push as a slap to his face. For 2013 especially, CM Punk put over the likes of the Rock twice on Pay Per View, the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 29, John Cena on RAW before Wrestlemania 29, Kane on the Paul Bearer memorial match, and Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam 2013. Furthermore, it could be easily argued that CM Punk gave John Cena, Undertaker, and Brock Lesnar legitimate "Match of the Year" candidates. For all of that hard work, what does CM Punk get in return?
I believe that something happened with the Wrestlemania 30 booking. For a while now, it was reported that CM Punk vs. Triple H was going to happen at Wrestlemania 30. Hence, why Punk was really going after the Authority when his feud with Paul Heyman finally ended. Based on the way Punk was able to cut shoot-like promos on Stephanie and Triple H, I believe that he was initially enjoying the prospect of that big match at Wrestlemania 30. He seemed motivated and I would guess is that the early finish to the match was CM Punk defeating Triple H. I believe that one of the following two events happened: either (a) Triple H kept waffling on the HHH vs. Punk finish (maybe refusing to lose) or (b) Triple H/Vince McMahon saw more money in doing Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan instead. Part (b) would leave CM Punk as the "odd man out", as the WWE is well aware of CM Punk's contract expiration during July 2014.
Daniel Bryan should take note of what's happened to CM Punk since SummerSlam 2011. Sure, he signed a 3 year extension, but what did that give him? CM Punk was paid well (he had leverage back then) and had the opportunity of a lifetime to work with some all time great performers. CM Punk had a 1 year+ WWE Title reign...
Sounds great, but almost 3 years later, CM Punk is banged up and burnt out. Worst yet, he was never "the guy" to WWE Management.
The biggest mirage in pro wrestling was CM Punk's WWE Title reign from Survivor Series 2011 to Royal Rumble 2013. Sure, he held it for a long time but does anybody even remotely consider CM Punk as an all-time great WWE Champion? And that's no offense to CM Punk, the wrestler. It's all about the booking... He was just a placeholder for the WWE Title. Alberto Del Rio busted during 2011, Sheamus was bombing as World Heavyweight Champion during 2012, and Randy Orton had the Wellness Policy violation. Meanwhile, the WWE had long term plans of John Cena defeating the Rock for the WWE Title in the rematch at Wrestlemania 29. Not much out there to challenge for the WWE Title during 2012...
But let's look at the Pay Per Views with CM Punk as WWE Champion for his extensive run between 2011-2013:
-Survivor Series 2011 - DID NOT Main Event - Won WWE Title vs. Alberto Del Rio
-TLC 2011 - Main Evented and beat Alberto Del Rio and the Miz.
-Royal Rumble 2012 - DID NOT Main Event (Rumble match did)
-Elimination Chamber 2012 - DID NOT Main Event (opened the show, actually, Kane vs. Cena did)
-Wrestlemania 29 - DID NOT Main Event (Rock vs. Cena did)
-Extreme Rules 2012 - DID NOT Main Event (Brock Lesnar vs. Cena did)
-Over the Limit 2012 - DID NOT Main Event (John Cena vs. John Laurinatis did)
-No Way Out 2012 - DID NOT Main Event (John Cena vs. Big Show did)
-Money in the Bank 2012 - DID NOT Main Event (Money in the Bank RAW match did)
-SummerSlam 2012 - DID NOT Main Event (Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar did, OK)
-Night of Champions 2012 - Main Evented and went to a draw with John Cena.
-Hell in a Cell 2012 - Main Evented and beat Ryback.
-Survivor Series 2012 - Main Evented and beat John Cena and Ryback.
-TLC 2012 - N/A - Out with an Injury
-Royal Rumble 2013 - Main Evented and lost WWE Title to the Rock.
Do you see what I'm talking about yet? Punk BARELY main evented as WWE Champion during that lengthy title run! Many of these Pay Per Views feature John Cena prominently, too. Cena actually headlined Pay Per Views against Kane, John Laurinaitis, and Big Show during 2012 over Punk. Seriously. Time is limited here at the Mr. Tito offices, but if you review Monday Night RAW during late 2011 through early 2013, you'll see a similar trend. John Cena was consistently in the main event of RAW and CM Punk would usually headline the 2nd hour or start the 3rd. Complete lack of respect towards the WWE Champion.
CM Punk would then put over everybody during 2013... Again, Rock (twice), John Cena, Undertaker, Kane, and Brock Lesnar all beat CM Punk and clean. Sure, there's always Chris Jericho, the part-timer, for CM Punk to defeat... But then the WWE decides to use Punk to put over Roman Reigns. For all of these matches, what does CM Punk have to show for it LONG TERM? He's limping with a bad knee injury and there is now a log jam towards the WWE Title with the Ohio Valley Wrestling "Class of 2002" in John Cena, Randy Orton, returning Batista, and part time Brock Lesnar. WWE has big plans for Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt, Sheamus, and Big E Langston. Lots of big, thick wrestlers that not only fits the mold of the Vince McMahon hoss wrestler, but many of which either close with Triple H as a personal friend or a favorite of HHH's in developmental. Oh, and Daniel Bryan is CRAZY over right now and the WWE is struggling to bury him no matter how hard they try.
What is CM Punk to do when his lifelong goal was to headline Wrestlemania and that logjam of main eventers is in his way? He's getting older and it's either getting crowded at the top or the WWE is pushing many of their selected wrestlers ahead in line. CM Punk was probably going to leave the WWE during July 2014 and possibly retire. The injuries have taken a toll and I believe Punk realizes that he has other opportunities out there in entertainment or even sports. I could easily see Punk promoting MMA events or being a commentator of some sorts. Thanks to his success of 2011, he's gained mainstream success that has opened doors elsewhere besides in pro wrestling. He could work for the Chicago Blackhawks in some capacity, for example, for their television broadcasts. He's smart and he's talented... And I think he just "cut his losses" by walking out of the WWE.
What did staying almost an additional 3 years do for CM Punk? Sure, he's rich... "Buried in money", as he once Tweeted in response to my famous "CM Punk is Buried" column. Even though he lost most of the big matches he was in, notably during 2013, those matches were critically acclaimed. He was WWE Champion for a long time, even though he didn't beat too many big names as champion... But he's battered, bruised, limping, and burned out... His goal of headlining Wrestlemania isn't happening.
Daniel Bryan better take note. CM Punk was the fans' choice during 2011 and while it helped CM Punk win the WWE Title at Money in the Bank 2011, he wasn't champion for long after that event (lost at SummerSlam) and was messed with by Triple H, the evil authority figure. Funny, Daniel Bryan wasn't WWE champion for long (not even 24 hours!!) and was messed with by Triple H, the evil authority figure. For Punk during 2011 through the present, he was never able to redeem himself against Triple H. In fact, Triple H beat him and Punk never had a rematch. Heck, we still don't know why Kevin Nash interfered at SummerSlam 2011. So far, Daniel Brayn has yet to get revenge against Triple H. Bryan FINALLY beat Randy Orton on RAW, but the real person who screwed Bryan at SummerSlam 2013 was HHH. It might have taken CM Punk walking out to let Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H finally happen.
If we were to follow the same timelines in measuring time from SummerSlam 2011 to present for CM Punk through late January 2014 like Daniel Bryan with SummerSlam 2013 through January 2016... Chances are that Daniel Bryan will be the same burned out and injured wrestler as CM Punk is now. Bryan might flirt with a WWE Title reign or two, but the logjam at the top with OVW "Class of 2002" still there and WWE's handpicked wrestlers in Reigns, Wyatt, Langston, and Sheamus hossing over the WWE Title. Good luck, Daniel.
And unlike 2011, the options to go elsewhere are gone. TNA Wrestling is hoping and praying that the Spike TV Deal gets renewed (or they're done) while Ring of Honor is content with being a smaller budget promotion (they air at 2am on Sundays in my area, really?). TNA/ROH were much different during 2011, however, and a CM Punk jump to either promotion for that time could have been huge. Fans were heavily behind CM Punk during 2011 as "their guy" and would have made him a wrestling martyr for leaving the WWE promotion that was screwing him. It would have been much like wrestling fans making Chris Jericho a martyr for leaving WCW during 1999, once his contract was up, to join the WWE for a HUGE debut. TNA/ROH might be struggling now, but CM Punk's hopes of helping either promotion are gone now that he walked out and didn't just wait until July 2014 when his contract simply expired.
Putting up with the very stubborn Vince McMahon, who likes his hosses, top babyfaces who sell merchandise (Cena), or any character creation that's an extension of Vince himself (Del Rio) while also putting up with Triple H who means well, but creates personal friendships with wrestlers and loves anyone who openly listens to Triple H about wrestling or weightlifting. Especially if you weightlight with Triple H... Batista and Sheamus were HHH's lifting buddies and both have benefited greatly from that connection. Batista can almost take 3 years off and return instantly to become the Royal Rumble 2014 winner and fight for the WWE Title at Wrestlemania 30.
Like I said... Daniel Bryan, take note... You'll be CM Punk at this time in 2 years. But hey, at least the WWE pays well... Oh, the WWE Network might reduce wrestler payouts for shows? Ohhhh....
Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it... Vince McMahon and Triple H have shown their hands repeatedly now on their personal tastes/preferences on wrestlers. For the next CM Punk or Daniel Bryan, many from the internet need just look at prior trends and easily expect Vince/HHH to repeat themselves. I have been writing columns for 15 years now and have covered the ENTIRE rise of Triple H. That's right... Just study the patterns of wrestlers pushed and it becomes obvious... Experience and knowledge are wonderful things.
Hopefully, history does NOT repeat itself. PUSH DANIEL BRYAN NOW!!!! And not only push him, which involves Bryan defeating Triple H at Wrestlemania 30 and capturing the WWE Title shortly thereafter... But give Bryan a lengthy WWE Title run and let him BEAT wrestlers cleanly. See where this fan momentum goes... And if Bryan doesn't pan out, the same wrestlers that Bryan beat can get their wins back and you can put the WWE Title on someone else. CM Punk's 2011-2013 WWE Title reign sucked because he wasn't allowed to beat anybody and with credibility. Hopefully, the WWE learns from history...
But damn, that Main Event logjam!
It's sad to see CM Punk just walk out of the WWE. He became my personal favorite wrestler and I absolutely enjoyed his 2013, even if he didn't beat any of those huge names. His matches against Undertaker, John Cena, and Brock Lesnar were incredible and I consider his match against Lesnar to be one of the best matches of ALL time. The "Summer of Punk" lead up to Money in the Bank 2011 was awesome and should have made CM Punk into a Stone Cold like star. Instead, they tore him down in favor of pushing Alberto Del Rio and at the expensive of getting the new "COO" Triple H character over. While I'm disappointed that CM Punk didn't complete his WWE contract through July 2014, I completely understand his frustration and appreciate that he can just simply walk away from the business on his terms.
I hope he returns... I think a fair deal for CM Punk would be for him to return because a returning WWE Superstar called him out. If I were the WWE and wanted to pop the Wrestlemania 30 buyrate AND the WWE Network subscriber base, they should throw some serious money at Stone Cold Steve Austin for a one-time match. That's right, in order to salvage CM Punk with the WWE, book Steve Austin vs. CM Punk. I believe that's a big match that could lure CM Punk back and with Punk probably leaving after July 2014, the WWE could do Steve Austin a favor and let him beat CM Punk. Punk gets one last big match (which I believe he'd be OK with losing) and Steve Austin gets to be featured prominently at Wrestlemania 30 to end his career well. Both CM Punk and Steve Austin walk away from the WWE proudly instead of the blemished finishes to their careers.
Yes, I went FANTASY BOOKING on your asses to end this column. How about them apples?
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