Sting, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and More from the Absentee Mailbag

Alfred Konuwa@@ThisIsNastyFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2014

WWE Superstar CM Punk poses at Madison Square Garden, Friday, Nov. 18, 2011, in New York, during a rally leading up to the 25th Anniversary of Survivor Series, taking place Sunday at Madison Square Garden.  The event will feature actor and wrestling favorite Dwayne
DAVE ALLOCCA/Associated Press

WWE absentee wrestlers CM Punk and Sting were mentioned on the same Raw. Then a Twitter tsunami happened. Let’s not waste any time.

@ThisIsNasty Do you think #CMPunk will ever go into the #WWEHOF?

— #BelieveInRollins (@kingofkings3258) July 16, 2014

Absolutely. Not only will he return, but if Soldier Field ever gets a roof to go along with those potential 5,000 additional seats and somehow lands a WrestleMania, CM Punk would be the keynote inductee for the WWE Hall of Fame.

How special would a CM Punk Hall of Fame speech be years down the line if it were the first time fans had seen him in the WWE since his departure? That pipe bomb could be as big a draw as WrestleMania itself if Roman Reigns doesn’t pan out.

I found it interesting how WWE didn’t hesitate to plug Punk’s documentary for the WWE Network almost the second his contract expired, per F4WOnline (h/t Wrestling Inc). Expect more CM Punk mentions moving forward. Now that he seems more gone than ever, WWE officials are likely penciling in a spot for "CM Sandow" during the next trip to Chicago.

Tensions will only continue to rise between the two parties in the immediate future. But they’ll eventually subside when Vince makes a Freudian slip and accidentally calls Seth Rollins “Phil” during a talent meeting, only to realize he misses his little rebel.

That’s how wrestling works. That’s how it has always worked.

There’s a built-in insecurity that comes with being a wrestler, and rightfully so. The hypercompetitive locker room environment, often manufactured by Vince McMahon, gives way to mistrust.

It doesn’t help that wrestling promoters don’t exactly have a reputation of integrity, meaning all a wrestler really has to rely on is his or her talent and ego.

Talent and ego were at the helm of Bret Hart’s ousting during the Montreal Screwjob in 1997. Those events made CM Punk’s beef look like a steak nugget, and Bret Hart still returned 13 years later.

The Punk-WWE feud doesn’t stand a chance.

@ThisIsNasty What does the future hold for Daniel Bryan? Stole the show at WM yet seems the promotion already forgot about him months later.

— Wrestling Walrus (@RasslinWalrus) July 16, 2014

If Daniel Bryan misses SummerSlam, which is highly likely, his best bet is returning with a head of steam at the Royal Rumble.

WWE has pretty much gone all-in on Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose is quickly cannibalizing Bryan’s Internet following. Throw in Brock Lesnar and Sting, and the main event real estate looks quite dry for Daniel...what was his last name again?

Maybe it will be a good thing if fans forget about Daniel Bryan. If they do, a return at the Royal Rumble will be that much more of a surprise.

With rumors floating around of Brie Bella taking on Stephanie McMahon at SummerSlam, per the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Wrestling Inc), Bryan could be involved in a non-wrestling role.

This would be a mistake. The longer Bryan spends as a beta to Brie Bella’s alpha storyline, the more minor league he will appear.

The fact that you put a poll on an article with VINCE MCMAHON as an opponent for Sting appalls me, I don't get this logic. @ThisIsNasty

— Trask (@TraskVancity) July 16, 2014

This is in reference to the column I wrote yesterday on a potential Sting-John Cena dream match.

But what if Vince McMahon revealed that he was the reason Sting never set one foot in WWE? Think about how much heat that could get from casual and occasional fans who make the needle move.

He could scream a monstrous promo running down WCW and NWA, saying he wanted to prove that he never needed Sting to draw a dime in order to be successful.

But now that his business is being slowly taken over by the Helmsleys, he hasn’t been able to tear up contracts with the same exuberance.

WWE could even redo the Sting orchestra spot to feature a trench coat-wearing conductor who is leading them in a fashion too animated to be a real conductor. Then he could turn around to reveal himself as Vince McMahon in Sting’s face paint.

“Showtime?! Show’s over!!”

If only.

Actually, I like the idea of Sting-Cena better. Let’s just stick with that pipe dream and work our way up. Vince McMahon has bigger fish to fry at the moment, like the rise or fall of the WWE Network.

@ThisIsNasty yes. It's like an ugly girl begging for a date and even offering to pay. I wouldn't buy it if it was in UK as feels desperate

— Ben Youde (@Benyoude) July 16, 2014

WWE spent an entire Raw almost begging fans to purchase the WWE Network. Cena opened the show in Hulk Hogan mode, telling fans to go out sign up for the WWE Network.

Even Jerry Lawler showed the aggressive desperation of a used car salesman in a commission slump. He made Michael Cole look deadpan.

At certain points, I felt like Lawler was going to take my credit card if I got too close to the television. Lawler doesn’t even get that excited for Divas matches anymore. Did he gamble his 401K on WWE’s stock?

WWE’s stretch run of hard selling is happening for several reasons.

For one, WWE has a huge conference call for investors on July 31. The promotion will announce its 2014 second-quarter results, which should include an updated subscription count. If it remains disappointing, WWE’s already slumping stock will continue to decline.

We’re also approaching September, where WWE will face declining subscribers once their six-month commitment comes due.

Per Variety's Marc Graser, WWE needs around 1 million subscribers in order to be break even domestically. To offset the dropped subscriptions, it needs to encourage as many additional customers as possible.

Call me an optimist, but I expect an impressive subscription count come July 31. WWE’s current marketing efforts for the Network were almost absent ahead of the initial subscription count.

Besides, WWE tends to thrive when it’s desperate—just ask Eric Bischoff.



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