CM Punk has been on a mission on Friday nights. Since he forced Jeff Hardy out of the WWE, he has been converting WWE fans into members of his newly formed “Straight Edge Society.” As of press time, he had recruited several male (and one female) audience members. After taking the Straight Edge pledge and swearing their allegiance to CM Punk, each convert had his/her head shaved to show their commitment to Punk’s, and now their, set of ideals.
Punk has not been alone in his quest to “save” the fans. He’s been accompanied to the ring in recent weeks by his initial disciple of Straight Edge values, Luke Gallows. However, Luke has appeared on WWE programming prior to his initiation into Punk’s cult-like following. Look closely, and you might recognize Mr. Gallows as one half of the former Smackdown tag team, Jesse & Festus. As Festus, Gallows was basically a brain dead monster who followed his “cousin,” Jesse, around like a lost puppy. Festus would stand by in a near catatonic state until the ringing of the timekeeper’s bell would awaken him and send him into a flying rage that would usually spell disaster for opponents and would only end when the bell rang again, returning Festus to his coma-like condition. Before their break-up, former WWE Tag Team Champions John Morrison and The Miz used a ring bell to immobilize and ridicule Festus for their own amusement.
Now, thanks to a timely intervention, Gallows has emerged from his former state as a clear-headed and purpose driven follower of his savior, CM Punk. Gallows claims he had been under the care of others (although he never mentions Jesse or anyone else by name) who had kept him heavily medicated and unable to speak or act in his own best interest. While credit should be given to Punk for showing Gallows the path away from his drug-addled past, and to Gallows as well for taking the personal responsibility to do his part in getting himself rehabilitated, the question looms large: what is Jesse’s responsibility in this entire situation?
Jesse has separated himself from his cousin and has also repackaged himself for the WWE fans. Now calling himself Slam Master J, he has had little time for Gallows and apparently little interest in his well-being. He has not confronted Gallows or Punk to verify his “cousin’s” new-found sobriety. Instead, he has chosen to seek validation through various attempts of impressing Smackdown tag team Cryme Tyme with his urban attire and dialect. While it seemed Cryme Tyme was having fun at Slam Master J’s expense at first, they did seem to start coming around to his off-kilter but harmless new persona. Then, Slam Master J disappeared altogether, only recently returning and partnering with “Asian Redneck” Jimmy Wang Yang in tag team action.
Why did Slam Master J allow his cousin to be constantly over-medicated to the point where he resembled a drooling zombie? Was he the primary caregiver for Festus/Gallows during their tag team run? If so, was he knowledgeable enough to dispense pharmaceutical aid to the big man? Or, perhaps, he felt he could maintain control over the powerful man-child and keep him at his beck and call? And, at the end of the day, is the Superstar formerly known as Festus any better off following the whims of the messianic egomaniac CM Punk? There are a multitude of questions surrounding this situation. Unfortunately, answers are harder to come by. Punk declined to allow Gallows to comment and Slam Master J’s answering machine will only confirm that he is not in the “heezy” at this time. As wrestling fans, and as human beings, we can only hope Gallows is truly thinking clearly these days.
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