Two and a half months ago CM Punk cut the now-famous worked shoot promo that sent the IWC and the wrestling world in to a frenzy.
Since this time I have seen many articles and comments on b/r that refer to the beginning of a new era, the "Reality Era".
I'd like to state that I am in no way against a new wave of changes, and a new era in the WWE. Nor am I completely denying that we could be heading in to a new era.
Like all of you, I love the storylines currently taking place on RAW, and also view CM Punk as exactly what he claims to be; the "Voice of the Voiceless". I believe the WWE has stepped up their game over the last two months, and that should things continue to improve, we may very move into a new era.
My issue stems from the IWC's (that's the umbrella term I'll use) almost "trigger-happy" claim that a new era is upon us. All these proclamations were the result of the fantastic feud between CM Punk and John Cena. This apparent new era was dubbed the "Reality Era" within three weeks of the feud.
I have come to the conclusion that their are three reasons the IWC would respond to the this feud in such a way, and have the response be so immediate.
1) The reason I'm sure most of you will instinctively link yourselves to. You honestly believe that CM Punk's promo was the beginning of something new.
2) Members of the IWC were so desperate for something remotely "Un-PG" that they construed anything different to be the proclamation of change.
3) I don't know, maybe some of you enjoy making wild predictions and boasting when the one-in-ten prediction rings true. Essentially, some of you try very hard to be the "first to predict it".
That may be a bleak view of the IWC. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure many of you are part of reason one.
The point I'm trying to make is that it is near-impossible to know a new era has started three weeks in to what is potentially the Reality Era. At this point it is pure speculation and prediction, which may or may not come true by 2012.
Flashback to WrestleMania 14, Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the WWE Championship for the first time by defeating Shawn Michaels. In one of the most famous wrestling lines of all time, Jim Ross proclaimed:
"The Austin Era has begun!"
Of course we know the rest, and this legendary moment came to be known as the start of the Attitude Era.
Did JR know that after WrestleMania 14, the product would become edgier, the talent depth of the WWE would become immense, and the next three years provide the highest of quality pro wrestling ever seen? Did he really know a new era had begun?
I sincerely doubt it. I assume the most he knew was that Steve Austin was being bred as the next face of the company, and his win would initiate his huge push, hence "the Austin Era".
Many claim that it is not only the CM Punk storyline that signifies a new era, it is other changes, such as the push of IWC favourites Christian and Zack Ryder, and how reinvigorated the WWE product seems.
Let me ask you, would you think twice about these changes had the CM Punk storyline never occurred, or would have seemed like the same-old? Does Randy Orton crushing Christian at SummerSlam scream change?
Even two and a half months is not long enough to decipher whether or not there is a new era. Especially considering the only true evidence is the storyline involving CM Punk, Kevin Nash, Triple H, John Cena and Alberto Del Rio. Yes, there are hints that the Divas division and tag team division may be on their way to recover after all these years.
But that's exactly the point—we don't know yet, we've only seen the start of change, but haven't waited long enough to see the long term legitimacy of that change.
In one year, there will be no debate. We will know for sure whether or not we were at the genesis of a new era. Basically, I'm not disputing a new era, I'm saying that it's far too early to know for sure, and until we see sustained and prolonged change within the WWE, we won't have a true answer.
I can only hope that the WWE continues to reinvigorate their product, and start placing emphasis on the whole card. CM Punk, John Cena, Triple H and even The Rock of all people could be leading us into a new era of definitive change to the "PG-Era", the "Reality Era".