WWE: Why Great 'Technicians' Punk, Jericho & Bryan Make for Overrated Champions
To those "in the know," this article's title might be about as off-putting as it's projected to be laughable.
Although it may stand in direct opposition to popular opinion, it is for better or worse my opinion that over-valuing great wrestling technicians often tends to lend itself to the creation of overrated and sometimes completely undeserving WWE champions.
Never confuse "sports entertainment" with true "wrestling."
With as much as the WWE attempts to blend both of them together, it is the entertainment aspect that will forever separate the two.
None of the aforementioned would rank amongst the top-100 "technicians" in the world. But all of them will forever be burned into the public's collective conscious.
Old school wrestling fans and traditionalists have often scoffed at the notion of rewarding the un-coordinated by supplanting technical-craftsmen with entertaining Superstars.
Champions like CM Punk will emphasize the fact that they are "wrestlers," attempting to shed the "Superstar" label in exchange for a fabricated perception of reality being force-fed into the very unreal world of World Wrestling Entertainment.
True to form, there can be no doubt that performers like Punk, Jericho and Bryan could "technically" wipe the mat with the John Cena's and Dwayne Johnson's of the world.
That's not so much my point.
As the 2011-12 season began to shift towards technical up-comers like Punk and Bryan, I couldn't help but notice the reality that the WWE's next wave of champions seemed (to be blunt) cheap to me.
More so Daniel Bryan than CM Punk, but I'll get to that later.
You see, CM Punk stands out for reasons that Daniel Bryan doesn't, only I'm not incredibly impressed with the technical skills he's been ever-praised for.
I'm just not that excited to see CM Punk wrestle.
Personally, I've found less skilled ring-performers to be more exciting.
How’s that for irony?
It’s when CM Punk talks that I listen.
His mic-work over the past year or so has been second to none.
When Daniel Bryan talks, I question why I bothered tuning in to Smackdown in the first place.
He's not particularly bad and he's not particularly "boring" per se—there's just an aura of irrelevance to him.
Pundits will argue that it is his technical ability that helps him to compensate and that we should instead praise his "progress" as a speaker.
Still, I struggle to shake the notion of irrelevance.
It's the lack of personality—the lack of entertainment—that to me only helps to further emphasize the detriment of over-valuing a performers' technical wrestling prowess.
My argument is not for the aforementioned to be deemed irrelevant but simply to illustrate the danger of affixing a disproportionate amount of unquantifiable value to performers who lack other essentials needed to push sports entertainment to the pinnacle of its potential.
Having performers like Daniel Bryan main-event WrestleMania as the World Heavyweight champion is just as much an issue as it is to reward the championship to men like John Cena, who lack what many consider to be the bare-minimum amount of buyable ring-skills.
Still, the latter though boasts star-power and marketability, so therein lies the difference.
Considerably far from perfect, this approach has at least given birth to a success that Superstars like Hulk Hogan and The Rock have fostered for years.
Many have since anointed the likes of CM Punk and Chris Jericho as "exceptions to the rule" as the general consensus seems to praise both of them for their ability both in the ring and on the mic.
I'll admit that Punk and Jericho are very talented at both.
Yet, there's still a problem.
I'll tune in to watch Punk and Jericho talk. They make me laugh and they have enough ring-skills to build off the credibility earned by being greater promotional entertainers than "exciting performers."
The issue lies within the difference between "skilled technicians" and "entertaining performers."
Many (though certainly not all) of the industry's greatest technical wrestlers tend to actually bore me in the ring.
Reflect upon the concept for a moment.
Daniel Bryan could "out-wrestle" Dwayne Johnson hopping on one leg, half-blind with a migraine.
It just doesn't matter.
Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus at WrestleMania 28 won't be as memorable as The Rock's reference to John Cena's favorite cereal when the time comes to view this decade in retrospect.
Entertainment will fall by the wayside and cost a potential main-event on the industry's grandest stage from ever developing into anything even half as exciting as it was to watch two not-so-incredible performers in The Rock and Hulk Hogan square off at WrestleMania 18.
It almost seems as though the WWE's lack of great ring-performers has forced their hand in crowning champions who don't deserve to be champions.
I'm not meaning to offend Bryan's fanbase.
This is not personal, understand, I don't expect everyone to agree.
So I'll play devil's advocate.
I'm not at all thrilled to see CM Punk's prophetic promos come to fruition.
I don't feel that the WWE was wrong to make champions out of less-than-great ring-technicians.
Their greatest flaw for years has been the complete and utter lack of creative-stability.
The ignorance yielded by turning the Viper into more of a slogan than a moniker.
Ask Randy Orton five years down the road.
To allow a man to transition himself from delivering verbal desecrations and career-destructions into a happy-go-lucky RKO dancing machine, pre-packaged with an aura of implausible intensity.
With as talented of a roster as the WWE has, the fans deserve better.
Instead, we're force-fed one side of the coin (e.g. John Cena) before force-flipping it to the other (e.g. Daniel Bryan).
I'd love to claim for there to be an easy solution.
God knows that if there was, I'd have been working for WWE yesterday.
Even with as politically-incorrect as it is to say, I'll allow myself to stand up and speak out against one of the greater issues to plague sports entertainment in quite some time.
Learn to appreciate a performer's extraordinarily impressive technical wrestling prowess but remain cognizant of the reality needing to be acknowledged if the WWE Universe ever expects to be delivered another truly great champion.
Ryan Michael is a Senior Writer for Bleacher Report. Any questions, comments or professional inquiries can be directed to his email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/#!/theryanmichael
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