WWE Random Thoughts: Punk's Problem, the John Cena Dilemma and Terrible Raws

William GulloCorrespondent IJune 20, 2012

Remember when we all thought CM Punk was going to be our leader of the revolution? A revolution into a new era in wrestling. Remember last summer when everything we thought the WWE had become had changed? Remember when CM Punk made wrestling cool again?

CM Punk, WWE Creative, Cena and Vince McMahon still haven't found a way to recapture the passion, lust, excitement, grittiness and success that last year's summer contained.

While the product has greatly improved over the last two years—with Punk now becoming a bona fide superstar, the rise of younger talent and the return of major WWE players (The Rock, Brock Lesnar and Chris Jericho)—the company still feels like it's at a complete standstill and a victim of randomness...

Kind of reminds me of last year at this time period.

It's a sad place to be when you think about how great the landscape of the WWE looked—the potential we all saw in Punk and his newfound stardom, a reborn Cena and a creative team that was finally opening up to taking risks and erring on the side of gritty over campy. 

Then, one day, the always reserved, isolated, gritty, condescending, rebel leader of the revolution, who single-handedly captured the spirits, hearts and minds of hardcore fans everywhere, was now smiling and placating every member of the audience he never cared about.

Our "Indian style" sitting rebel leader was now fake-puking, telling lame jokes, acting like a junior-high bully and smiling at everyone and everything such that I could no longer take him, or the product's direction, seriously.

Not to mention Punk had basically transformed into "Super" Punk right before our eyes...

So where are we now? Punk is still at the forefront of all WWE Championship matters, he's toned down his "placating" approach dramatically and he's still, in my eyes, putting on the best matches on any given night. So, what's Punk's problem? It's not so much his problem, as it's the company's problem with him...

Instead of piggybacking off of the massive early success Punk had last summer, the WWE has elected to remain focused on Cena, at some points Del Rio and a huge story arc involving Big Johnny, over making the focal point Punk and his WWE Championship reign.

It's like the WWE is giving us all a thumbs-up and a smile, while holding their middle finger up behind their back when they present Punk and his "title reign" to us.

We thought we had all seen the bright shiny lights of the WWE's new, exciting and gritty future, but instead, we all fell victim to what happens when the WWE presents a prepackaged, manufactured, bubblegum, status-quo version of a character they need to wrangle and literally capitalize off. 

I'll always look back at this "era" in wrestling and think how much better it might have been if Punk hadn't become the "Robin" to Cena's "Batman," if Punk had become the Triple H of this generation (a villain everyone loved to hate) and if the WWE had allowed the landscape to remain unaltered after Punk set it on fire with his shocking, game-changing promo.

Was I that far off when I proclaimed "CM Punk is officially annoying me" just two months after everyone had a sudden hard-on for a man who received little attention before the WWE allowed him to "shoot" on them?

I saw the writing on the wall, the corporate machine at work, the placating, super good guy Punk was becoming, and nearly a year later, it's still basically the same thing.

The only difference is that the WWE did the smartest thing it's done since they elevated Punk, and that's elevating Bryan to his level as well.

Those two were meant to wrestle each other, and once all the Cenas, Triple Hs and Ortons are long gone, these two will likely stand as the pillars of the future. A very bright future I might add.

It's probably too soon to expect the WWE to just hand the keys of the kingdom to Punk and Bryan, but their time will come. The WWE just better hope there's still a loyal fanbase left when that time comes... 

And now for some random thoughts...


Random Thought No. 1

While we're on the subject of Punk and his title reign, isn't the whole purpose of any competitive "league" to become champion? Imagine a world where there are no "heels" and "faces." A world where Cena, Orton, Sheamus, Bryan and Jericho are constantly gunning to be the No. 1 contender to Punk's title.

Punk vs. Cena, Punk vs. Orton, Punk vs. Sheamus, Punk vs. Bryan—These are all high profile, pay-per-view selling main events, but I keep forgetting we have to draw a line down the middle of the roster and only allow those on team "good guy" to battle those on team "bad guy.

I think the system sucks, and with a depleted roster, it may finally be time to allow fans the chance to go wild watching huge stars clash over the WWE title.

Talk about not only adding prestige back to the title, but I'm growing tired of the title being defended in matches I know Punk and Sheamus are going to win.

Random Thought No. 2

Triple H (during his No Way Out promo): C'mon Brock, let's fight. You and me are going to fight! Let's fight like men. SummerSlam Brock, you and me are going to ...fight. Be a man, Brock, and fight me.

(face palm)

Alright, take it easy, Triple H...we get it.

Random Thought No. 3

How terrible has Raw been lately? I feel like we're not even trying anymore when it comes to Monday nights

It's like the WWE has this secret "summer angle" planned and just kicked the system into cruise control, half-assed mode until it's time to break it out. That's hardly fair to your fanbase. Ya know, the ones that actually give your company money through advertising dollars, merchandise sales, tickets and pay-per-view buys...

I wish I could just kick my life into cruise control, half-assed mode. Instead of taking a girl to that fancy dinner I had planned, I'll just pop through the McDonald's drive-thru before I dump her back off at home.

Instead of showing up to work on time, I'll just coast in two hours late and leave an hour early. Instead of writing articles that go over 2,000 words, I'll just blast out a couple of paragraphs and call it a day...

Between Raw ranging from boring to average and SmackDown now officially a glorified "minor league" program, it may be time for me to take a backseat to the whole wrestling world. Then again Money in the Bank and SummerSlam are right around the corner, so I'll probably still watch to see what happens.

Damn you, WWE! My passion for wrestling and intrigue into your product has me hook, line and sinker. You win again! 

I secretly hate and love you at the same time. I'd still marry you, though, and feel like I wasn't settling. You always know what to do or say right before I walk out the door forever.

Sometimes your "cooking" is terrible, but you sometimes surprise me and follow it up with a fun, entertaining night...I love you, please don't ever leave me...I hate myself. 

Welcome to life as a WWE fan...

Random Thought No. 4

Poor Kofi...

I understand the need to stick up to Big Show after he pummels your friend, R-Truth, but there's a fine line between brave and stupid.

Not only did you leap over that line by challenging Big Show to a steel cage match, but let's face it: Was R-Truth worth the haste?

I know he's your tag partner and all, but between being injury prone, talking to imaginary people and constantly "puff, puff, passing," is he really your long-term solution to tag team immortality?

Way to go Kofi! Good job! Good effort!

Random Thought No. 5

This has nothing to do with wrestling, but I need to officially put this argument my friend and I have been having to rest. I won't tell you which side I fall on, but your input is highly needed. 

Please participate in the completely random poll for more information...

Random Thought No. 6

I feel like the entire article to this point has erred on the side of pessimism, so I'll lighten it up from here on out...until we start talking about Cena and his asinine pay-per-view, main-event streak.

I'm sure I'm not the only one whose eyes roll every time it happens.

So, how about that Heath Slater guy, huh?

I've always found him entertaining, but now we're finally getting to see some of the potential he has as a big time heel. And whenever a grown man, who calls himself the "One Man Band," tells little kids in the front row to "shut up," then he has my applause...

And I'm getting a master's degree in early childhood education, so what does that tell you? I'm officially on the Heath Slater bandwagon. You're welcome to join—unless you're wearing Cena colors, because then you're just a hypocrite. And the Internet and professional wrestling have no place for hypocrites... 

Random Thought No. 7

Dolph Ziggler will headline at least one WrestleMania before I die...probably just jinxed myself though. Crap.

Random Thought No. 8

I like Ryback. I like Sandow. I like Brodus Clay. You know what I'd like even more from them?

I'd like them in an actual feud!

I think the WWE has officially over played the whole "squash match" angle for awhile. Not only has it become an everyday (show) occurrence for them, but I feel like It's actually taking away from their appeal. Eventually they'll have to lose, and then these bogus segments will truly have been a waste of time. 

I know, I know, sorry about the pessimism, but some things need to be said for others to hear (read).

Random Thought No. 9

The WWE finds itself in what I like to call "The John Cena Dilemma"...

This dilemma is based around the notion that the company continually finds the need to shove John Cena down our throats, no matter how the public views him.

It's actually a pretty tricky dilemma for the company. It's a fact that Cena is the biggest name in the wrestling industry, but there seems to be a massive disconnect between him and many of the fans who watch and attend the WWE product.

My friend (a Cena guy): Even I'm getting sick of John Cena! It's the same thing every match: John Cena gets beat on, he "rises above the odds" and defeats his opponent in the most boring way possible. It's been the same garbage for nearly two years now. He shouldn't turn heel, but at least throw the man into a reliable feud where he can actually wrestle someone. I know Cena's capable of a five-star match, but do we have to wait a year in between each one? 

The WWE is going to have to find a way to make this thing work, or I have a feeling we'll be stuck in "Cena Purgatory" for the foreseeable future.

Whether that's another run at the WWE Championship against Punk, a feud with Orton, Jericho, Sheamus or Bryan...something has to give. You can't continually have the WWE Championship play second fiddle to a guy who doesn't need to even do anything and he's in the main-event automatically.

The WWE finds itself in a tricky, often "no-win" situation right now.

It's neglected its younger talent pool for so long and relied so heavily on Cena that now the WWE can't bear the thought of sticking Cena in a "mid-card " feud. They need Cena to be the top billing whenever he's healthy enough to compete, but at what cost?

We're finding ourselves, as fans, in a murky transition period for the WWE.

A transition period that's been going on now for close to two years. While Punk, Bryan, Sheamus and Rhodes are the foundations of the future, Cena is the present, and the WWE needs him to headline. But they also need the WWE Championship back at the forefront of storylines.

We all know what that equals: The champ may soon be here again, whether it's the right move, or not.


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