Vince McMahon was never one to pander to the "10 percenters," as the Internet Wrestling Community is sometimes called. While it remains to be seen whether or not the ongoing CM Punk angle is anything of the sort, maybe McMahon should take a good, hard look at how this storyline is going.
Now, we all know (and if you didn't know, you do now) that CM Punk is still gainfully employed by WWE. But this angle—the story of a jilted professional wrestler sticking it to the company that held him down by running off with its richest prize in the wrestler's home town—is something I haven't been able to say about a pro wrestling angle in years.
It's fresh. And it's brilliant.
CM Punk's entrance at Money in the Bank was something we haven't seen in years. One fan report said WWE pumped Cena's music up because it was being drowned out by boos. The pop Punk received after pinning John Cena was unparalleled in the "PG Era" WWE Universe.
Everything about the crowd at the Allstate Arena was something that dates back to the Attitude Era. It was like a step back in time, when pro wrestling mattered, and crowds cared.
And maybe that was because the people who cared last Sunday night were the 20-somethings that were sick of the canned bollocks that has been broadcast on WWE television for the past few years.
It was the "10 percenters," the smarks, that made up a large percentage of the crowd that blew up when Punk pinned Cena and ran into the crowd with the WWE Championship in hand.
It didn't stop there. I arrived at the Resch Center for Raw last Monday an hour before the show went live, and the crowd was already pumped. The normal, "Woooooo!!!" cheers were replaced, for the first time in a long, long time, with something a bit more pertinent.
"C-M Punk! C-M Punk! C-M Punk!"
The Punk shirts outnumbered the Cena shirts. There were signs around the arena that read things like, "CM Punk'd Vince," "Punk = Ratings" and "Thank You Punk."
The IWC has always been the underdog, and when Punk did the "unthinkable" and left the Allstate Arena as WWE Champion, it was almost as if the IWC won as well.
So many members of the IWC—me, for example—think they're smarter than WWE creative. They think Cena and Orton need to go, in favor of guys like The Miz and John Morrison. And they thought CM Punk needed a more prominent role on WWE's flagship program.
In the case of Punk, they were clearly right.
Punk's post-event celebration in Chicago was picked up by TMZ. The video of Punk at the San Diego ComicCon has basically gone viral.
CM Punk has become the next anti-hero, following in the footsteps of WWE legend, and ardent Punk supporter, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Punk says the things every WWE fan over the age of 20 is thinking:
"When are you gonna put Zack Ryder on television?"
"I hate this idea that you're (John Cena) the best. Because you're not."
"It's because he (Vince McMahon) surrounds himself with glad-handing, nonsensical, douchebag yes men like John Laurinaitis."
"Why, because you don't know what makes a superstar in 2011? You don't know what these people want?"
"That's the problem, Vince! That's the problem. You don't give a damn (about the fans)."
Austin took WWE into a new era. Punk can do the same, given the opportunity. McMahon has given Punk a shot, but will he give him the time to pull it off?
As recent events have proven, Punk can do it.
Punk can save WWE.