Ever since the historic 1,000th episode of Monday Night Raw, the WWE champion CM Punk has been on a respect-demanding tirade. The straightedge superstar has hassled commentators, Hall of Famers and, as of last week, even fans.
Last Monday night’s episode of Raw saw Punk surrounded by a hostile crowd, who provoked the champion to lash out and strike a fan twice in the face. Knowing WWE, they will likely want to sweep the issue under the carpet and move on from the bad media they’ve received.
What the WWE should be doing is embracing Punk's actions like the WWE of old would have. The WWE back in its prime.
Before last week, Punk was just a generic heel whining for respect. After the incident, Punk now has some legitimate material to build his character upon. With the fans crowding around Punk, pushing him, striking him, flipping him off and shouting verbal abuse, one thing becomes apparently clear—the WWE Universe do not respect the performers as they should.
Punk and the WWE need to use this. Punk can take his gimmick to a new level and further blur the lines between reality and kayfabe, accusing the fans of the disrespect apparent last week.
Raw Monday night should see Punk cutting a strong promo that if the fans don’t respect him, then he will teach them a lesson physically. Instead, the issue will likely be ignored entirely. The WWE of an age gone by would have planted people in the audience for Punk to lash out at in weeks to come.
Sure, such a direction doesn’t line up with WWE’s “Be-A-Star” anti-bullying campaign, but neither does men settling their differences by fighting violently in a ring—the basic premise wrestling is based around.
Last week’s unfortunate incident has been a media magnet, attracting the attention of major news outlets, and even overshadowed the episode of Raw itself.
Whatever happened to the WWE that loved this attention and capitalized upon it? Whatever happened to the WWE that was edgy and controversial?
WWE chairman Vince McMahon has been dissatisfied with his Creative team recently, demanding either “results or resignations” (h/t Dave Meltzer of F4WOnline.com via WrestlingInc.com), and frankly, a champion who takes out fans is exactly the kind of edgy gimmick the WWE needs.
CM Punk can be more than the generic heel. He can become the wrestler who you learn to respect, or he’ll teach you respect the hard way. It’s these borderline-controversial angles that put wrestling on the map during the attitude era.
Now the WWE only makes headlines with unintended incidents. It follows that if the WWE wants the world’s attention, it needs to once again learn to stage such moments.