WWE: Has CM Punk Sold out with WWE '13 Cover?

Tom ClarkFeatured ColumnistMay 30, 2012

photo by wwe.com
photo by wwe.com

Coolest video game cover ever.

That’s right, in addition to being a Bleacher Report Featured Columnist, I’m also a geek who loves his Xbox.

Go ahead, laugh.  The fact is, the nerds have inherited the Earth.  Recognize.

When the cover art to WWE '13 was revealed on Monday Night Raw by a smiling John Laurinaitis, fans all over the world collectively did two things: laugh in disgust, and then agreed that it was all a work.
Then, CM Punk came out, and put us out of our misery, affirming our suspicion by unveiling the true cover.

And, yes, it is the coolest video game cover ever.

Despite the fact that I was very late to the party, and just picked up WWE '12 a few months ago, I have to say that I am excited to see the new game.  I’m also pretty happy for the taped-fisted WWE Champion who will be used to sell the game to the masses.

Right about now is the time that I would typically reflect on CM Punk’s meteoric rise to the top tier of WWE, establishing himself as a true main eventer, and bringing the art of pro wrestling back to the forefront.

But, let’s be honest, we all know the deal.  We know how Punk got to the level he currently enjoys in WWE, and the fact that it all began with his infamous Monday Night Raw promo.

We also understand that Punk is one of the hardest working wrestlers in WWE, a guy who has more than earned his spot through years of dedication to the sport that he loves.  

Again, we get all of that.  Much respect to Punk for what he’s done, and what he’s doing now, in the biggest pro wrestling company in the world.

Now, here comes the hard part.  How many fans feel that CM Punk, as evidenced by his likeness being on the cover of WWE 13, is now officially a sellout?  

I find it very curious that this chatter is actually going on right now, especially considering the fact that most fans agree that Punk has paid his dues and risen from the ground up.  

Of course, recognizing Punk’s achievements in the business do not necessarily translate to approval.

Here’s the thing.  CM Punk’s whole gimmick as being the “voice of the voiceless,” entails a few different aspects.

One, is that he obviously marches to the beat of his own drum.  He does what he wants, and is not easily controlled or manipulated by anyone.  He calls the shots, and whenever he’s pushed by anyone in a position of authority, he pushes back.

He did it against Vince McMahon, he did it against Triple H, and he is now doing it to John Laurinaitis. It’s his thing, and fans love him for it.

The second point is that Punk is all about the wrestling.  He takes pride in his matches, and much like Randy Orton, he has become one of the true workhorses of WWE, turning in one stellar performance after another.  

He calls himself the best in the world, and he backs it up every time he’s in the ring.

Finally, CM Punk is a wrestling purist.  No pyro, no bright lights, no snappy catchphrases, Punk is at his core, the fan who grew up wanting to be a wrestler, and once he got there, he remained true to himself, and to the fans who helped put him there.

In other words, Punk is a working class pro wrestler who stayed working class.

The basis of his entire gimmick is that he was sick of how phony boring the WWE had become, that it was just not fun anymore.  He openly criticized John Cena for his position in the company, calling him a dynasty, a man whose role as the underdog faded away years ago.

“You are what you hate.  You have become the New York Yankees.”

Still one of the best lines I have ever heard in a promo.

But, look at what has happened since Money in the Bank.  Punk is a two-time WWE Champion.  He has been included in the opening signature to WWE programming.  His name is on T-Shirts, posters, and other WWE merchandise.  And, he has a DVD in the works.

CM Punk has very quietly become one of the most marketable Superstars in WWE.  He may still have his niche as being a rebel, a guy who does not need the company as much as they need him, but the truth is, WWE has invested a lot in him, and he is delivering as expected.

He has become a star in spite of himself.

So, what separates him from John Cena, the man he has criticized so often in the past?  

Who said wrestling ability?  That’s just mean.  Five minutes in the corner for you.

The answer is not a lot.  Like Cena, CM Punk is a guy who loves what he does, and he is doing it a high level in the most profitable environment for his trade that exists.  He is a professional who respects and appreciates the fans, and is having a blast being a WWE Superstar.

So what if he is no longer that hungry young worker wrestling on the independent circuit, struggling to be noticed, trying to catch his break?  Was he more likeable to fans, respected more for the fact that he was a standout in Ring of Honor, rather than just the next guy who jumped to WWE?

Was he supposed to say no when offered a WWE contract in the first place, preferring to remain unknown on a national level?  Does he owe fans an apology for being in the position he’s now in at the top of WWE?

Are you kidding me?

Despite any criticism leveled at Vince McMahon, the fact is, WWE is “the show.”  Ring of Honor has come a long way, TNA is, well, trying, I guess, and other promotions out there are doing what they do.

But, WWE is the destination.  Every man and woman who steps into the ring, wanting to make pro wrestling a way of life, has the dream, somewhere inside of them, to make it in the WWE.  And, if they do not then, to me, they are wasting their time.

Jason Newsted, former bassist for Metallica, once said of the band’s success that “yes, we sell out. Every seat in the house, every time we play, anywhere we play.”

CM Punk saw the brass ring and he grabbed it.  It’s what we all want out of life, and he took it when he had the chance.  He made it.  And, he should be commended for that.  Any fan who has a problem with it should take a step back and understand what a promo is, and just how effective it can be when done by the right guy.

CM Punk is not just there to make the fans happy, he’s there to be successful.  And, for me, it’s a victory on both fronts.

Score one more for the geeks.