WWE Night of Champions: Where to Go from Here
I knock John Cena (the character) for many things but John Cena (the person) really brings it when he's in the ring with CM Punk. It's like he's reaching out to fans (like me) that prefer more sports than entertainment, and it really does make a difference in how I feel about him.
Cena showcases new moves (even if he ends up beating himself with them) and tries as hard or harder than he did when he was a rookie, and it's that kind of effort and chemistry that lifted what would have been a good-to-average pay-per-view to much greater heights—comparable to last year's classic Money in the Bank.
Without fully recapping the show, however, here are five things I'd like to see moving forward.
5. Team Hell Yes
All long-term tag teams need a name.
If they're going to stick around, Daniel Bryan and Kane are no different. Team Friendship is clunky and unexciting, however. "Team" is fine because it epitomizes their shared trials but they need a name that summarizes who they are individually.
Enter: Team Hell Yes.
(WWE gets bonus points if they allow Kane and Bryan to shamelessly copy Steve Austin and end all their promos with, "If you wanna see us stomp a mudhole in the Primetime Players, gimme a 'Hell yes!' ")
4. Everybody Gets a Pink Shirt
As I said at the top of the show, I'm usually one of the guys chanting "Cena sucks!" when I go to live events. Not that I hate Cena (the person) but out of sheer frustration with Cena (the character).
When I heard Cena was getting new pink attire on a night when WWE probably wanted to hedge their bets against a pro-Punk crowd, I was admittedly furious—in more than just an "It's still real to me, dammit!" way.
All cards on the table, my dad died of cancer a little over three years ago (it still sucks) and it feels like Cena's pop profiteering off of something very close to me.
I understand that Cena's brother was diagnosed with brain cancer but understand this in return: cancer is prevalent. There have got to be more wrestlers who have been directly affected by cancer, not just Cena. He shouldn't be the only one out there with a branded pink shirt. The fact that he is, is suspicious.
It's hard to interpret "Rise Above Cancer" as anything more than a manipulative gesture to sway crowd reaction in a feud where "the bad guy" still gets as many or more cheers than "the good guy."
In cowardly essence—and this is me being extremely sensitive to the subject—I did not want WWE making me feel like crap if I wanted Cena to lose, as if a boo for John was a cheer for cancer. I don't like the fact that corporate even considered it and I'm mad at John Cena (the person) for allowing it to happen.
Good for WWE for partnering with the Susan G. Komen people and God bless whoever bought Cena's shirt and sent them money but, as I said before, everyone should've had a shirt.
CM Punk should've had a pink "Breast in the World" shirt. Rey Mysterio should've had a shirt that said "Boob-Yaka! Boob-Yaka!" and Ziggler would have been right at home with "Showing Them Off." How about a special edition Rock t-shirt that says "Boots 2 Cancer"?
All of these and more would have sold like crazy, and that's just one guy with ten minutes to brainstorm alternatives. Imagine a more concerted effort by people with degrees in marketing.
3. CM Punk Steals Moves out of Respect
CM Punk nailing Cena with a Rock Bottom was the highlight of my night.
I fully expected Punk to then turn and hit Cena with a Stunner, and thus it occurred to me: that's a perfect new twist for the "Respect Era" CM Punk. He could steal the signature moves of former champions and claim that he's paying them respect.
It's exciting for the fans. What move is he going to poach next—the old school Lion Tamer, Tazzmission, Diamond Cutter, what? Punk has already established a track record of aping moves from those he respects, notably Randy Savage and KENTA. Why, just tonight, he pulled out Sheiky Baby's Camel Clutch and Vader's (awful) Moonsault.
What's the harm in taking that another step forward?
A comparison to Eugene is apples to oranges. Frankly, Vince McMahon ruined Nick "the next Ric Flair" Dinsmore's career when he saddled him with an in-character learning disability, and CM Punk has no such grievous shackles to detract from the one gimmick that truly made people love Eugene: he was a move thief.
Everybody loved that, they looked forward to it, and there's no denying the nostalgia rub (without having to pay appearance fees to a bunch of Legends who can no longer perform). Now everyone can love that gimmick again in a more serious and suitable context, and it's one more thing commentary can use to try and convince us that Punk's a bad guy (when he's really not).
2. JBL Needs to Stick Around
It's been awhile since I uttered a long string of expletives in a positive way while watching a pay-per-view but Bradshaw's return to commentary has me flustered like a schoolgirl watching Magic Mike next to Morgan Freeman reading Fifty Shades of Grey.
I'm not afraid to admit it.
Hearing Cole and JBL debate the merit of Bob Orton's arm cast and Bradshaw clearly wanting to slap Michael Cole for confusing Kerry and Kevin Von Erich was a rich and wonderful experience for me. I want to open a Kickstarter page to help Vince McMahon meet whatever ungodly demands JBL has in order to keep that raucous redneck in the booth.
Hyperbole aside, I didn't watch much wrestling when JBL was on top and part of that is JBL's fault. Bradshaw's rocket-up-the-rear push (and WWECW peeing all over my teenage dreams) caused me much angst and I didn't come back until I bought tickets to SmackDown on a whim and saw CM Punk wrestle the Undertaker.
I just didn't like Bradshaw (or "white rapper" Cena), but if tonight is any indication of what "happy heel" JBL and "face straight man/play-by-play" Michael Cole can accomplish together in an era of rancid commentary, I'm more than willing to forgive past trespasses and welcome Bradshaw back with open arms.
@#$% that was good.
1. Booker T Is Definitely Getting Fired
If one needs any further proof that Vince McMahon is going to story-line fire both of his General Managers, look no further than this thing where Booker T keeps inviting lawsuits willy-nilly (as Triple H did before also being fired).
If you've banned the Brogue Kick because it hurts people (or at least the way Sheamus uses it to hurt opponents by blindsiding them when they've just turned around), and an injury lawsuit is still in litigation, it seems like a horrible mistake to then reinstate it moments before the match that warranted the ban in the first place.
Barring the skit with Ricardo and the neck brace (since it exists as a back door in case McMahon changes his mind about replacing everybody), Booker T has left himself exposed to the (kayfabe) actual law rather than his own jurisdiction as General Manager.
Allowing Sheamus to use the Brogue Kick is going to come back and bite Booker T.
Jeremiah Allan is a sometime comic book writer, 2009 graduate of Ottawa University (Ottawa, KS) and senior staff writer at Wormwood: A Serialized Mystery. Check the article archive for his previous work.