For the past five weeks, wrestling fans have been captivated by CM Punk's rather unconventional behavior. Punk took the professional wrestling world by storm on June 27th in Las Vegas when he cut a promo on the WWE leadership and the "ass-kissing" talent.
Since that time, people have been comparing Punk to Stone Cold Steve Austin, calling him God's gift to wrestling, and even saying that he will single-handedly save the WWE. To be completely honest, I have to disagree with the last comparison.
Why would I disagree with something like that? Well, let me start by saying that I'm as big of a fan of Punk as the next guy, and I've absolutely loved what he's done with his "pipe bomb" lately. That said, he cannot save the WWE by himself. It's just not going to happen.
Shortly after Punk's promo, I was thinking to myself how great he did at getting a reaction and getting himself over, and that the WWE had finally reached out to the "real world" and not just stayed within its bubble of current fans.
And then I remembered that this is what the WWE has been doing for years. They constantly try to do something shocking or get a big name person to appear in an attempt to get mainstream media attention.
Want an example? How about 100. Vince McMahon's limo, Floyd Mayweather's $20 million Wrestlemania payday, Donald Trump "buying" Monday Night Raw, and getting that garden gnome, Snooki, to wrestle.
Do the WWE's press stunts help the show or waste effort, television time, and resources that could be used for other things?
Let's not forget every single Raw guest host that did absolutely nothing but waste TV time and collect a paycheck from Vince McMahon. Did they help the ratings at all? Nope.
Trump's angle got the biggest payoff, and that only lasted for two weeks before the ratings went right back down to where they were before.
So why doesn't this kind of thing work? How does WWE do all this to promote their show and still fail to keep a crowd. The answer, quite frankly, is an easy concept to grasp.
It's because their show sucks.
But really, as unfortunate as it is to say, their show sucks. I mean, if I'm a NASCAR fan (Ha. Ha. Ha.) and Kyle Busch or whoever that random guest host of the week comes on, and I decide to tune into this show I've never seen before, do I really want to come back next week after I just saw a garbage show? No. Kyle Busch is gone and therefore so am I.
It's funny, a few years ago Triple H and Shawn Michaels cut a promo completely ripping Dusty Rhodes for angles like Terra Ryzing (Triple H's WCW gimmick) and The Shockmaster. They completely tear into him about these, quite frankly, stupid angles and characters.
And in the very next segment, we have Chavo Guerrero vs. Hornswoggle in a bull rope match where the midget wins, and oh, by the way, this is the 80th week in a row that the stupid leprechaun has beaten a well-established wrestler. Contradictory much?
Granted, the WWE now doesn't suck half as much as it did in 2009, but it's still a far cry from being entertaining. The Divas division is awful. There hasn't been a legitimate storyline since the rather pathetic "Piggie James" garbage that the WWE pulled out. The belt looks like something a 4-year-old girl would buy, all it's missing is a "Hello Kitty" logo.
The tag-team division? Wait...there's a tag team division?! I forgot it existed after Miz and Morrison split up. Thought it couldn't get any worse then? Flash forward to a few months ago when Santino and Kozlov were champions.
Who are the Intercontinental and U.S. champions? With the way the WWE has devalued those belts, I don't know the answer to either of those questions.
All I really know about is all the WWE teaches you to know about. John Cena and Randy Orton. Don't believe it? Check out the statistics. Go back through pay-per-view logs and count how many PPVs haven't involved one or both of Cena and Orton in a title match over the past five years. Just try it. You probably wont even need to use both hands.
And now CM Punk is the new "guy." Granted he's a lot different than Cena and Orton (thank god) but the premise is still the same. The only thing that matters in the WWE is the main event, but when the other 90 minutes of your show still suck, people still aren't going to watch.
And that's exactly why Punk can't do it himself. Vince McMahon said a few weeks ago that no one man is bigger than the WWE. He's right. Nobody is bigger, and nobody is big enough to do it himself.
I hate to speculate on the past and say "what-ifs" but do you honestly think that without the entertaining tag-team division, The Rock, DX, the Undertaker and other characters, that Steve Austin would've been as big of a star? Not a chance.
All those people made up a show that rarely had a boring minute. The logo didn't wear off of your fast forward button back in those days because everything was entertaining. There were no "bathroom break" segments.
Now, there's a hell of a lot more bad than good. I see a lot of potential that's held back by garbage gimmicks (Dolph Ziggler) and poor booking (Sheamus).
I find myself only tuning in to listen to Punk and maybe R-Truth. That's it. Must-see TV? Not even close. If I miss it, I can easily watch the 15 minutes I want to watch on YouTube a few hours later.
So, in order for the WWE to be "saved" there are a lot of things that need to be done to improve the show as a whole. For starters, the Divas and tag-team divisions need to be rebuilt. On top of that, the mid-card needs to be restructured with prestige restored to the Intercontinental and U.S. championships.
What division does the WWE need to improve the most?
And, most importantly, the WWE needs to stop promoting things like John Cena and Randy Orton are the only guys that matter. When you do that, you build two guys while undervaluing the rest of your roster, and that's not good for business.
I wrote an article a few days ago about guys I thought could make the WWE cool again, and I legitimately think that with proper booking they can, but the WWE has to put an effort into more than just their main event and gunning for their mainstream media spotlight. Start focusing on the little things.
The fact is CM Punk will not be able to save the WWE on his own, it's going to take a massive improvement of the entire show to do so, and while Punk is a huge piece in that, I haven't even seen the other pieces come close to falling into place yet, and that's something the WWE will have to work on over the next several months.
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