Random Thoughts from the Office: August 16 2012

SummerFes......err Slam is just around the corner and yet I can only name about two matches on the card. Isn't it just a great time to be a wrestling fan? You know another company did this once. I think they had a C in their name....but that seems so long ago. And anyway, as much as people may be looking forward to SummerFes.....err Slam it's not really what I want to talk about.

I want to talk about CM Punk.

Yes, I know talking about Punk is kind of cliche nowadays, a throwaway topic when there's not a lot else to talk about. But it is interesting to see the different ways the WWE are using him and really for the first time in a long time they have opportunity to make something huge here.

A lot of people were upset when he turned not long after The Rock came back at Raw 1000 and said he'd be facing the champion at the Royal Rumble. I personally don't have a problem with it. To create an anti hero, a guy you cheer and back to the hilt you have to start him as a heel. It worked with Steve Austin, it worked with The Rock, it worked with 'Taker. Every endearing star of wrestling, every icon has had a big heel run BEFORE they became iconic. Even the biggest name of them all, Hulk Hogan began as a heel under "Classy" Freddie Blassie.

To be a major star in the business you have to work equally well as a heel as you do a babyface. In fact only two people have ever been an exception to this rule: Ricky Steamboat and Rey Mysterio and without meaning to insult them they both have one thing in common: they're the underdog, the battler, the man who takes a hell of a beating but somehow, some way pulls it off and wins the big one. Well Ricky was, Rey was just pushed to the big one over the body of Eddie Guerrero. They garner huge sympathy but I'm sorry they're not icons, they're not even on the map of major stars. I know that may sound controversial but hear me out.

To me there are only two ways to become iconic in the wrestling world and they're both from the Heel side of things. Remember the old argument I always make? For newcomers here it is.

Babyfaces sell MERCHANDISE
Heels sell TICKETS

To become iconic you have to do one of two things, either rile the audience so much they will pay money to see you get beat up. The Honky Tonk Man was the prime example there, there's a reason why he is regarded as having the greatest Intercontinental Title reign in history because he kept the title against all odds and all comers and kept riling the fans. Punk is also doing this in his own way.  I was actually amazed to realise this just the other day but Punk is coming up on 9 months holding the WWE Title. To put that in perspective, in the previous 9 months the title changed hands 5 times (6 if you count the Rey Mysterio/John Cena Title Reigns in the two weeks Punk was away) and to get a matching length of time you have to go back to 2006. The WWE is doing something right for a change and now they must continue it.

Now I don't know if this is possible with schedules and the like but let me take a trip to Fantasy Booking Island here. Punk continues to hold the belt, all the way up to the Royal Rumble and stays in heel mode, he works better as a heel anyway. At the Royal Rumble he loses the title to Rock, but later that night he "Steals" a spot in the Rumble by beating up.....let's say for arguments sake Zack Ryder because really, they couldn't damage him any worse than they've done but hey that's a whole other column. He gets through all comers and is the last one standing in the ring.....he starts to celebrate, but the clock counts down to entrant number 30....John Cena. They have a knockdown, dragout fight and then...and this is rare for me...then you repeat the Royal Rumble 94 finish (Lex Luger and Bret Hart both being declared winners) It leads to a triple threat at Mania, in which Cena wins but in the same match, you turn the Rock heel and Punk face and with that you achieve three things. You use the Rock effectively in the short time you have him, you finally cement John Cena as the top guy by giving him the win he needed more than anything and you create a bankable hero for the next 10 years.

Because the second way you become iconic....is work so well as a heel that you actually become a face.

Clarence "Showstealer" Mason

No comments: