18 months ago, CM Punk sat cross-legged on a stage in Las Vegas and cut a scathing promo that turned him into a made man in the WWE. CM Punk’s popularity surged, the internet wrestling community was thrown for a loop at what had just happened. Was it real? Did he plan it? Was he even allowed to be on the stage and say the things he was saying? In a sport that is vilified for being fake, he made it real by airing legitimate grievances that he had with the most successful wrestling company in the world. He put everyone on blast, name dropped wrestlers no longer with the company who shouldn’t have been let go, and said what everyone (who was tired of the wrestling product that WWE was putting out) was thinking.
Last night, he made that promo look like The Great Khali reading the phonebook. And I’m afraid that Punk may have dropped the “pipebomb” of no return.
CM Punk said a promo that tripled the anger and frustration that he felt 18 months ago. Only this time, he did so while holding the WWE Championship that he has held for 414 days. Before the promo, one could be skeptical about what was going to be said considering Punk promoted the promo as another “pipebomb.” Punk himself had lessened the term post-Vegas promo by calling out Triple H for being married to the boss’ daughter and then saying “pipebomb.” That’s not really what the term was meant to be used for. Anyone who has watched wrestling knows Triple H and Stephanie McMahon are married. If you didn’t know, it’s just a Google search away. Last night, however, CM Punk’s promo was the absolute definition of what the term should be.
He masterfully crafted a 10-minute manifesto in which he called out the audience for making or breaking WWE superstars. He called us out for his popularity considering we are the ones buying his merchandise. He said that our cheers determine who get’s to be a star and who doesn’t. The most real part of the promo was when he mentioned Tyson Kidd and everyone started cheering; doing the exact thing that he had just called the WWE Universe out on. He made legitimate claims that he may very well be the best champion the wrestling world has ever had, doing so by completely burying the legitimacy of guys like Hulk Hogan and Bruno Sammartino.
One of the most subtle (and overlooked) things that Punk did in this promo, was remove the WWE identifier from the microphone. How much distain does that show when you don’t even want something as unimportant as that on the mic? When the production guy told him to wrap it up for commercial, that was genuine anger in his voice. Punk talked about how he didn’t do anything for the people and accomplished things in spite of us. This is the absolute truth. There are tons and tons of stories about CM Punk not being a nice, fan-friendly guy outside the ring. And while his documentary may humanize him, I never in my right mind would be dumb enough to ask CM Punk for an autograph or picture if I saw him at an airport. Honestly, I’d probably avoid him as to not be in his way. He solidified being that guy in the ring in-front of a sold out audience.
However, CM Punk is in new territory now. This isn’t typical heel turning. This is him being the person that he really is. He insulted those who helped make him a superstar; insulted the people (like myself) who buy his merchandise. Turning him back into a fan favorite seems impossible at this point, not that they would want to. If you look back at the last 20 years of wrestling, no one ever cut such an honest promo about the fans. The WWE does run the risk of turning him into an even bigger anti-hero. However, I think I this point, you’re either on the CM Punk bandwagon for life or you never got on. This means that you also have to please the fanbase that loves heels by elevating him deeper into heel territory. You have to tow that line though, because if Punk cuts a 20 minute promo consisting of just insider terms, they may lose the casual fans. My only hope is that they don’t mess this up on the way to the Royal Rumble. The WWE has dropped the ball in the past with things like this and there are so many ways they can do it again. I don’t want them to have Punk go back to saying things just to try to be shocking. Pipebombs only work if they are loaded with truth and not petty insults.
The WWE has done a great job at promoting The Rock taking on CM Punk at the Royal Rumble. With one half-hour block of television, they built the match better than Cena/Rock, and that match had a build of over a year. CM Punk’s honesty is only going to help elevate The Rock’s game as well, because if The Rock relies on the same silly penis jokes he used on Cena, he’s going to be eaten alive.
Think CM Punk has reached the point of no return? Think WWE will drop the ball? Drop a pipebomb or two in the comments!
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This article was first posted on January 8, 2013