CM Punk has made Wrestling Cool Again & why the Money in the Bank PPV was just that for WWE
Written by Sean Sedor
The date was June 27, 2011. The location was Las Vegas, Nevada. For the thousands of fans attending WWE Monday Night Raw, it was a special night. Raw Roulette was making its return. Of course WWE ran this gimmick for almost every Raw that came to Las Vegas. The premise was that a large game wheel that had numerous types of matches and stipulations would be spun before every match, and whatever the wheel stopped on, that’s what the match would be. When it came time for the main event, a rematch from the main event of WWE’s most recent Pay-Per-View, Capitol Punishment between WWE Champion John Cena and the deranged R-Truth, the wheel landed on a Tables Match. The match went on as one would expect from any John Cena match (The bad guy, in this case, R-Truth, would get the upper hand in most of the match until John Cena makes his miraculous comeback for the win. When it looked like Cena was going to win, he was attacked by CM Punk, the new #1 contender to Cena’s WWE Championship, and ended up costing Cena the win. Punk had already gained attention the week before when after he won a Triple Threat Falls Count Anywhere match between himself, Rey Mysterio and Alberto Del Rio to become the #1 contender, he announced that his WWE contract expired on July 17, the date of WWE’s next Pay-Per-View, Money in the Bank, where he would be challenging Cena for the WWE Championship in Punk’s hometown of Chicago, Illinois. He also stated that he would beat Cena that night and leave the WWE as champion. Fans were intrigued. Everyone knew that’s Punk’s contract was actually expiring but were skeptical on what would happen in Chicago. Most believed at first that Punk would lose, since WWE would never let someone who was on their way out of the company win the company’s most prestigious title, especially considering the fact that WWE’s top star, John Cena, was champion. Fans saw Punk’s interference in the Cena/R-Truth match as simply a way to build toward the title match. However, after the match had ended, CM Punk began talk, or what people in the wrestling business call “cutting a promo”. However, this would be no ordinary promo. In the span of a few minutes, CM Punk got the entire world talking. His promo would later be coined by wrestling fans as the “Shoot Heard Around The World”. Indeed….Punk’s rant was heard around the world. The realism contained within it captivated the audience. It was a rare moment, as it garnered attention from not only just those who watched WWE programming and wrestling in general, but the average joe who didn’t even follow pro-wrestling. The number of fans who had abandoned WWE for a product that focused more on wrestling instead of the entertainment aspect, people who hadn’t watched WWE programming in years were drawn in by Punk’s clever speech. In his ”Shoot”, CM Punk claimed that he was the best wrestler in the world (A word WWE has tried to distance themselves from for nearly 25 plus years, as it considers itself to be “sports entertainment”) and that the fact that WWE considered Cena to be “The Best” was a joke. Punk said people like Cena, “Dwayne” (as in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson”), and Hulk Hogan got to the top because they kissed Vince McMahon’s (the owner & boss of WWE) Ass. He then ranted on various other aspects of WWE that can all be seen in his shoot promo from Raw. What captivated people most about the promo was that almost everything Punk said was true. It created a vibe that fans of wrestling hadn’t felt in nearly a decade. Over the next two Raw’s before Money in the Bank. The saga continued to unfold, from Vince McMahon suspending CM Punk to Cena convincing him to undo his decision, on the condition Vince made that if Punk won Cena would be Fired, to Vince’s failed attempt to resign Punk to a contract. It all built up to the pay-per-view in Chicago. Fans were buzzing over what would happen, and it didn’t disappoint. Punk was cheered all night and when he finally came out for his match the arena exploded for the hometown hero. John Cena was universally booed out of the building, in an atmosphere that Cena had entered before (See his match with Rob Van Dam at One Night Stand 2006). The match was fantastic, but the ending was something that fans never thought WWE would do: CM Punk won the Title, and left Chicago, and the WWE, as Champion. . The ending to the match was fantastic, and it had everyone talking. But its wasn’t just this match that was intriguing. Aside from a crappy Divas match and a decent match between Mark Henry and Big Show, the Pay-Per-View was nothing short of amazing. Daniel Bryan and Alberto Del Rio won their brands (Smackdown and Raw) respective Money in the Bank Ladder Matches, in contests that contained excitement from beginning to end, and a World Title Match between Randy Orton and Christian that was just as thrilling as their previous encounters in the months prior. The event was Universally praised, to the point where people who either did not order the event on Pay-Per-View or who watched in via streaming on the internet ordered the replay because in the words, “WWE deserves their money”. When was the last time anyone heard someone say that a show was so great that it deserves their money? It is almost unheard of in today’s pro-wrestling landscape. CM Punk Shirts that WWE made and sold at the event, shirts that were only made for the event in Chicago, were last seen selling on ebay in the $500 dollar range. The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer gave the Punk/Cena contest 5 Stars, the first wrestling match in the USA to get 5 stars since 2006 and the first 5 star match from WWE since 1997. The drama and storytelling created by the CM Punk story has been nothing short of incredible. Punk himself has been featured as a top story on ESPN.COM and people have even started pulling a “CM Punk” and “Shooting” on their employers. Even a week after the event, the CM Punk saga continues as the unemployed WWE Champion showed at the World Famous San Diego Comic Con and crashed a joint WWE/Mattel panel that featured Triple H, Rey Mysterio, and Bret “The Hitman” Hart. . And even with Punk’s return to Raw with “Cult of Personality” as his entrance music with a possible rematch with Cena looming on the horizon, fans continue to wonder and speculate what might happen next.
CM Punk and the WWE have brought something to wrestling that hasen’t been seen since the “Attitude Era”…..unpredictability. They have brought in millions to see what will happen next, and that is exactly what the WWE, and wrestling in general, needs right now.
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