WWE News: Reviews, Analysis and Rumors for Week of Oct. 7
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It would be silly to suggest that the WWE is in any sort of danger in terms of going under, but Vince McMahon isn't one to sit idly by when things go wrong. Last week's edition of Raw scored an abysmal 2.5 television rating, and the Chairman wanted to make sure that didn't happen again.
McMahon was advertised to deliver a state of the WWE address, but he was interrupted by WWE Champion CM Punk and ultimately engaged in a street fight with him to close the show. It reminded many fans of McMahon's Attitude Era showdowns with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and it received rave reviews.
As great as it was though, it was overshadowed by an incident that occurred when Punk escaped through the crowd following the brawl. Punk ran away from Ryback and John Cena, but while he was in the crowd, he began to be pushed around, resulting in him striking a fan twice.
It didn't reflect particularly well on Punk, but it most definitely has people talking, so this week's episode of Raw did its job in terms of creating buzz. Whether that momentum can be maintained in the coming weeks leading up to Hell in a Cell is anyone's guess, though.
Here are the biggest news stories and rumors surrounding the WWE for the week, beginning on Oct. 7.
CM Punk Attacks Fan While in Crowd on Raw
The conclusion of this week's episode of Raw was supposed to be all about the battle between WWE Champion CM Punk and WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, but it was marred by an incident between Punk and a fan. Punk was about to hit McMahon with a GTS, but Ryback ran out and made the save. Punk escaped, but John Cena then threw him back in the ring. Punk was able to squirm away once more as he exited through the crowd.
Punk slapped away the hands of fans who were trying to touch him and the crowd began to get a bit aggressive as Punk was being pushed around. Punk eventually snapped after looking over his shoulder a couple of times and proceeded to backhand and then push a fan in the face. Punk's assault has been the talk of WWE all week long.
I can certainly see both sides of this situation, but I have no problem saying that Punk was 100 percent in the wrong. I don't condone fans pushing Punk, and there is no question that security should have been present while Punk was in the crowd, but the WWE Champion needs to show some restraint. According to WWE.com, Punk said that he felt like he was surrounded, which is understandable, but he should have removed himself from the situation.
Punk could have very easily walked down a couple of steps and gotten away from the fans who were poking and prodding him, but he took matters into his own hands. It would have been one thing if he was a random jobber, but aside from Cena, Punk is the most important wrestler in the company and he needs to conduct himself properly.
Representatives of huge companies need to think long and hard about every move they make, but Punk lashed out in the heat of the moment and he's lucky that it isn't likely to cost him.
Vince McMahon's Return Drives Raw Ratings Boost
Perhaps television ratings aren't as important now as they were during the Monday Night Wars, but don't tell that to Vince McMahon and the rest of the WWE brass. Ratings matter to advertisers and networks, so there may have been some panic when Raw's ratings reached a yearly low point last week. In an effort to ensure that the downward trend would stop, Vince reprised his on-screen role of Mr. McMahon.
Vince surprised many fans when he stepped into the ring with CM Punk rather than delivering the state of the WWE address that we were promised. Even at 67 years of age, McMahon can still entertain with the best of them as he went toe-to-toe with Punk in a fight that had the crowd buzzing. It paid dividends as well, with RAW pulling in a 2.8 rating this week, up from last week's dismal 2.5, according to Wrestling News World.
Having Vince appear on Raw seemed like a ratings grab from the start, but it worked wonders, and the writers did a great job making it relevant to the product. Punk's modus operandi over the past few weeks has been picking on legends such as Mick Foley and Jim Ross, so slapping McMahon straight across the face fit in perfectly with the direction that his character is heading in. Punk's interactions with McMahon got him more heel heat than he has had since turning on the 1,000th episode of Raw.
The issue, however, is that the increased rating probably isn't sustainable without McMahon in the picture. As much as I and pretty much every other WWE fan in the world would love to see Vince remain in the picture as an authority figure, I simply don't see him as a long-term character.
Vince's return was a great quick fix, but it was little more than a Band-Aid, and something more substantial will have to be thought of in order to hold the fans' attention.
Brian Gewirtz Removed as Senior Vice President of Creative Writing
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WWE has always had its hits and misses when it comes to creative writing, but the quality has been noticeably lower since WrestleMania. I'm sure there are a lot of people who can be blamed for that, but Vince McMahon made it known who he believes is at fault. According to Wrestling News World, McMahon has removed Brian Gewirtz from his position as senior vice president of creative writing.
Gewirtz remains employed by the company, but he has been reassigned to a different position. Taking over for Gewirtz is Eric Pankowski, who was hired back in February and has reportedly quickly become a favorite of the McMahons. It is impossible to say how this will change the on-screen product, but Vince is obviously looking for some significant progress.
I can't say with certainty that Gewirtz was the sole reason for the WWE's creative struggles, but McMahon sees what goes on every day, so I trust his judgment if he believes that a change needed to be made. Gewirtz didn't do the actual writing for Raw of SmackDown, but he had to approve the scripts and then pass them along to Stephanie McMahon for further approval, according to Wrestling News World.
If that is indeed the case, then there is only so much blame that can be placed on Gewirtz. The biggest issue with WWE creative, in my estimation, is that there is so much emphasis on the WWE Championship scene, CM Punk and John Cena that other areas are neglected.
The renaissance of the Tag Team division has been fantastic; however, the other mid-card belts are essentially brushed to the side. Focusing more attention on the big picture would make the product so much better, so hopefully that is something that Pankowski plans on doing.
CM Punk to Choose Either John Cena or Ryback as Hell in a Cell Opponent
If not for CM Punk attacking a fan at the end of Raw this week, most fans probably would have been debating whether the WWE Champion would take on John Cena or Ryback at Hell in a Cell. Vince McMahon delivered that ultimatum to Punk on Monday as he has continually dodged Cena since Night of Champions. If Punk continues to do so, he will have to deal with the monstrous Ryback instead.
This angle seems like a smart move on WWE's part as it is trying to cover all its bases. If Cena is ready, then Punk can pick him, but if he isn't, then Ryback is a good backup plan. If not for Cena's elbow injury, this probably wouldn't even be an angle, but considering how much momentum Ryback has gained over the past few weeks as a rival of Punk's, this may end up being positive for all involved.
I'm not a Cena fan by any means, but I sincerely hope that Punk chooses him over Ryback. If Cena's elbow isn't properly healed, then I suppose the WWE has no choice. However, based on the fact that it once took Cena three months to recover from what was supposed to be a year-long injury in the form of a pectoral tear, I would be shocked if he wasn't ready for Hell in a Cell. He admittedly looked awfully tender on Raw, but there are still three weeks left, so hopefully that is enough time.
I don't necessarily have anything against Ryback, but I'm not sure he is ready for the big stage. His crowd reactions have been great; however, a bunch of wins over jobbers doesn't make you qualified to be in the main event.
Also, there wouldn't be a good result for that potential match as you can't have Ryback win the title and you don't want to have him lose either since he has a streak to uphold. Ryback may be a star one day, but that day shouldn't be Oct. 28 at Hell in a Cell.
Alberto Del Rio Accused of Bullying Child at WWE Event
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Most people understand that the WWE is a show in which the wrestlers are playing a character, but apparently some people have trouble distinguishing between an act and real life. According to TMZ, a woman named Shelly Ehler brought her eight-year-old son to a WWE live event in Anaheim, Calif. and Alberto Del Rio caused her son to burst into tears.
Del Rio reportedly grabbed a pro-Sheamus sign out of her son's hands and ripped it up on his way to the ring. Ehler said that her son was emotionally distraught after the incident and cried all the way home. This prompted Ehler to fish for an apology out of Del Rio on Twitter and send an angry letter to the WWE as well. It is unclear what actions she is hoping for the company to take in this situation.
Boo hoo. I honestly can't believe that this is even an issue because people should know full well that everything the wrestlers do is done in an effort to further their personas. Del Rio is a heel and he did something that heels have been doing for many years, so he is totally exonerated of any wrongdoing in my book.
I don't want to sound insensitive, but I find it strange that an eight-year-old kid would get so bent out of shape about something like this. If a heel ripped up my sign when I was his age, I would have been ecstatic.
Worse than the child's reaction is the crusade that the mother is on It seems to me like she is trying to get something out of the incident, and that doesn't sit well with me. If Del Rio had punched a fan à la CM Punk, then I could understand the outrage, but this type of thing happens constantly and it has never been perceived as an issue.
If people start sharing Ehler's point of view, then WWE will be full of smiling, dorky characters who would rather shake hands than fight. This is yet another example of the oversensitive society that we have become.