The World Wrestling Entertainment certainly had an interesting 2011. The WWE saw the return of a legend, the emergence of a new hero, & several surprises in and out of the ring. Rather than look back myself at the WWE 2011 in review, I am joined by a collection of pro wrestling writers from CamelClutchBlog.com.
WWE Wrestler of the Year
Eric Gargiulo – Randy Orton: I know, I know this one is going to anger some readers, especially you CM Punk fans. Heck, I am even upset at myself after years of Orton hatred, including writing many blogs criticizing Orton for his laziness and repetitive matches. However, something clicked in the Viper and across a 12-month span I think he had the best matches in the company.
What really impressed me most about Orton was his versatility in 2011. It isn’t that hard to have great matches with Christian Cage, but Wade Barrett, Dolph Ziggler, CM Punk, and Cody Rhodes as well. Other than Money in the Bank against Cena, I can’t recall many “great” matches that CM Punk had in 2011. Other than Money in the Bank and wrestling Rey Mysterio on RAW, I can’t recall any other “great” matches that John Cena had in 2011. Daniel Bryan never had the opportunities throughout the year. To me, nobody did it better than Orton in 2011 who had a career year inside of the ring.
Jeff Peck of Wheelhouse Radio – CM Punk: There was no other wrestler in the WWE in 2011 that had more of an impact or a banner year like CM Punk did. He started 2011 with a “TV feud” against John Cena, formed/took over the “new nexus” and had a pretty good feud with Randy Orton that led to a Wrestlemania match. Not a bad year for a wrestler already and then he cut the promo of the year on June 27th, 2011 that led us to what some may call the “Summer of Punk II.”
He helped recapture the imagination of wrestling fans that felt like they were no longer in tune with the product and was part of a very memorable match & angle at Money in the Bank 2011. There were times he may have fallen off a bit in 2011 but there was no doubt that he was a top wrestler for the WWE when he captured the WWE Championship in historic style at Madison Square Garden at Survivor Series 2011. CM Punk is my choice for the 2011 WWE Wrestler of the year.
Thomas Holzerman of The Wrestling Blog- CM Punk: I’m picking CM Punk, but it’s not as much a no-brainer as one might expect. Mark Henry, yes, the same Mark Henry who as recently as four years ago was sent to the wasteland of ECW, came on strong and became as feelgood a story as a monster villain ever could. Here was a guy who was being ribbed to the point of almost quitting within six months of receiving the push of his life. All he did was go out and split wigs, induct people into his Hall of Pain, and bring back the chip on his shoulder that made him such a dynamo in said ECW stint.
That being said, Henry’s year was epic because of the execution. Punk’s year was epic because he potentially changed landscapes. He moved mountains. He started a revolution. Granted, that revolution is still in its early stages. It might fail to gain traction. But why dwell on the negative here when most of what Punk has given us has been positive? Match after match, promo after promo, he made wrestling fresh and new again. He gave it promise and purpose. Henry followed the script excellently, but Punk tore it up and rewrote it. That’s why he’s the wrestler of the year.
Brett Clendaniel of WrestleChat.net – CM Punk:
I think this one should be unanimous. While there are a few guys that really went above and beyond this year, none really elevated their status the way CM Punk did. Punk went from a guy mired in the upper-mid card to a guy that some reports are saying is positioned to be the new face of the WWE going forward. He’s really the first main eventer to really connect with that 17-34 male demographic since “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock. Whether it was his now-famous worked shoot, his great matches nearly every time he steps in the ring, or his promo’s in which he doesn’t hold back, CM Punk has just resonated with fans of all ages. Even thought ratings may not be showing results at the moment, talk to any wrestling fan and they’ll tell you that the WWE is better today because of CM Punk than they were in January of 2011 when he wasn’t in the spot he is now.
Honorable Mention: Mark Henry, Dolph Ziggler, Randy Orton, Robert Roode, Cody Rhodes, Eddie Edwards & John Cena.
Jerome Wilen of ProWrestlingRingside.Blogspot.com – Mark Henry: The best career move that WWE creative did in 2011 is when they took a gamble and turned Mark Henry heel. I never really cared about Mark Henry until he became a monster heel. He has done very well both in his role as an unstoppable heel champion even when “injured.” He deserves kudos for stepping up his game with improved mic skills and doing crazy stuff such as “injuring” a sound technician on an episode of SmackDown by tossing him like a rag doll. His unpredictable character is something that has been missing from wrestling for a long time and is one of the main reasons I won’t read the spoilers so I can be surprised at what he might do next as a part of his “House of Pain” gimmick. Finally, WWE has a talent who was basically a circus side show during the attitude era with worthless storylines and gimmicks can now be taken seriously not only as a legitimate heel, but a force to be reckoned with that has the World Heavyweight Championship belt.
Terri Bey – Mark Henry: I know it is not going to be a popular choice as there was CM Punk who is the obvious choice with his brilliance on the mic and in the ring. John Cena, the cash cow, is probably another obvious choice, as Randy Orton would have been, but my reasoning is that Henry has been in the company for over a decade, and was given so many goofy gimmicks, a couple of them to make him quit, but he stood in there. This time, they pushed him as a monster, and he responded with some of the best work on the mic, and in the ring. He is taken seriously as a monster heel. Most people know he isn’t a great catch as catch can worker, but he has taken what he can do, and made it work. He also has done a great job as a heel World Champion. Smackdown ratings have been around 2 or so since he has been champion as well.
Dustin Nichols of NerdsLikeMe.Blogspot.com – CM Punk: Punk went from a sometimes main-eventer/mostly mid-carder earlier this year into a bonafide main eventer in a matter of weeks. A lot of it can be credited to his “work-shoot” promo on John Cena that has now become part of his gimmick, but at the same time, Punk has worked his ass off to get to the spot he’s in right now. He’s excellent in the ring, can work with nearly anyone, and has proven to be the most entertaining talker to hit WWE in many, many years. As the year ends, he is the current WWE Champion (and a 2-time champ for the year), and his first run with the belt, despite being short, was one of the most memorable runs in a long time thanks to a very hot storyline, engaging promos, great in-ring work and almost universal support from the crowd. As an added bonus, 2012 appears to be more of the same good fortune for Punk.
Steve Urena – Mark Henry: Now a lot of people are going to choose CM punk but we all knew CM Punk was great at what he does, plus he has won the world title before. I’m going to pick a wrestler who showed determination and drive and transformed himself into something new.. Mark Henry. Mark Henry at the beginning of the year was a teddy bear, a loveable babyface who was big on the outside but soft on the inside. I was always a fan of Henry since he transformed from sexual chocolate into a menacing figure and thought that he could be a menacing and powerful monster of a character. Fast forward to the draft lottery and Mark Henry turns on John Cena. What a moment. That teddy bear that everyone had grown to cheer for had turned into a grizzly bear and finally, we saw fire in the eyes of Mark Henry. We also saw a lighter Mark Henry as Henry went down in weight in order to be a better performer. I was looking forward to seeing him on SmackDown and figured he would be in a main event feud at some point and his run has been better than anyone expected. He started off in the mix with Christian and Sheamus then moved onto Randy Orton. His Hall of Pain will be memorable for years to come due to the brutality and the way he has handled giants. His matches have become so much better than they have before and I look forward to his title matches whenever they come on Pay Per View. Who would have thought that the guy who impregnated Mae Young would be a monster heel champion? I love it and Mark Henry deserves it. Mark Henry is my pick for wrestler of the year for his improvement and his brand new attitude.
WWE Story of the Year
Eric G – Edge retires: I went back and forth on this, CM Punk’s push, and Punk’s lack of impact on business but I think at the end of the year, there is nothing bigger than one of the biggest stars of the last decade walking away for good.
It is funny because in another era, fans would still be talking about the retirement of Edge. Yet I think fans have become so cynical and rightfully so, that they all believe Edge and even Shawn Michaels will be back in the ring at some point. I am not buying it. Medically, it just doesn’t appear in the cards. I was not necessarily the biggest Edge fan when he was around, but I have certainly noticed the difference since he left. For me, this is the biggest story of the year.
Jeff P – The return of The Rock: Besides CM Punk’s promo from June 27th, 2011 there was only one other moment that grabbed the attention of wrestling fans, new and old in one night. February 14th, 2011 “the most electrifying man in all of sports and entertainment” made his return to the WWE for the first time in seven years. It was The Rock and he announced that he was “hosting” Wrestlemania 27 & that he would never leave the WWE ever again.
Thomas H – The WWE Network: For me, the story of the year was the announcement of the WWE Network. Wrestling had always been at the mercy of network executives who were stingy with their timeslots until WWE, which has had a history of entrepreneurial endeavors, decided they wanted to control the content themselves. This is what a bold decision looks like in 2011, just like the decision made in the early ’80s to go national or in the early ’90s was to go live every Monday on cable television. Whether it works or not will be a different story; we shall see in 2012 whether that happens. For now though, the story is that they have the testicular fortitude to follow through on this, and as a fan, I hope they succeed.
The return was a moment once again where people were talking, fans that missed out check out his return on YouTube videos and were excited to see one of the wrestlers that defined a generation return back to his roots. The return led to what was the groundwork to a match between The Rock & John Cena for Wrestlemania 28 and what maybe a part-time role in the WWE as The Rock promised. It was something many wrestling fans thought they’d never see again but for that night the WWE and The Rock surprised & shocked the wrestling world by returning in grand fashion.
Brett C – (For the Second Year in a row) The Influence of Social Networking on Professional Wrestling: Ya know, I took a bit of a beating last year when I chose this as the big story of the year over a few others. Looking back, I really pat myself on the back for being absolutely right. Look at how many times a Superstars Facebook or Twitter account is mentioned on any show. Watch at how we have “Trending Topics” pushed down our throats on live TV. The story of the year once again was the impact that these things had on what we saw on our screens. The “Internet darlings”, as we’ve all been called multiple times, have really had our voices heard. Look at every WWE champion right now – CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Zack Ryder, Cody Rhodes, Beth Phoenix, and AirBoom. All young, entertaining athletes who the “smarks” around the world have been begging to carry belts for a year now. The WWE has seemingly given the Internet what they’ve been asking for. Hopefully it’s not so that they can throw it up in our faces in a month or two if ratings continue to go down the toilet. In 2011, superstars on Twitter were the gifts that continue to keep on giving. Matt Hardy being arrested, hinting at suicide, and being arrested again were probably the big Twitter moments of the year. But then there’s also people like Goldust who was banned from the site for multiple months after the WWE received numerous complaints about the way he treated fans. We saw superstars have their pushes (John Morrison) abruptly stopped, debuts (Brodus Clay) put off, and ex-employees (Chavo Guerrero, Michael Tarver) use it rip current WWE main eventers to shreds. Let us not forget Michael Cole getting tons of heat for tweeting gay slurs and Vick Guerrero and Karen Jarrett getting into a virtual cat fight that lasted quite a few days.
Honorable Mention: Death of “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Return of The Rock, and Edge’s Retirement.
Terri B – 11 Time WWE/World Champion Edge Suddenly Retires: I don’t mean for this first couple of sentences to get personal, but here goes. On January 8, 2011,ironically five years to the day that Edge won his first WWE Title, I was second row ringside at Rupp Arena for a house show. Edge had just beaten Kane in a very good street fight. He was a ten time World Champion. He went around, and shook hands, and grabbed mine, and shook mine. I gave him a present which was a set of photos of him and Umaga tag teaming that I had taken, ironically in Rupp 2 years prior.. He had painted his face and body like Umaga. The last words he would say to me (I had met him twice before) was Thank You. Well, little did I know that would be the last time I would ever see him perform live, as on April 11, 2011, on Raw, at Bridgeport , CT, he announced he was forced to retire due to spinal stenosis in his neck. It was a shock to me, as well as to wrestling fans, and to the industry, as well as to WWE. WWE gave him a great sendoff, but also had to do a draft earlier than usual. Even though Edge , per interviews, happy in his retirement, his absence leaves a void, especially on the Smackdown side. One can sense his talent not being there. Edge was kind of , and this is about the best analogy I can come up with, kind of like a chair that was always there. After all, he was with the company for 12 years or so. I started watching in 1998, the year he was first with the company, so I saw his career blossom from beginning to end. I am glad he had such an illustrious career, but his absence is strongly felt, and his impact on the WWE product is missed. Edge was a hell of a worker, even after the injuries (neck, pec, achilles, etc) started to take a toll. He continued to have awesome matches, even right up till the end. Edge also was a hell of a promo man. He was one of the best on the mic. In my opinion, he is one of the best heels ever. The sad part about the retirement is that he was JUST getting over as a babyface, a role that he was pretty decent at, but he was in his element as a heel. His retirement was heartbreaking, as no one wants to see a proud athlete lose his/her career to injury, but it was good that there were a lot of his peers saying great things about him, and having met him three times, I can confirm he is a great person. He is sorely missed, and he is missed on WWE, but his health must come first. Thank you Edge.
Dustin N – The CM Punk Money in the Bank Angle: The story of the year is the same as the angle of the year, as far as my vote is concerned. When it was confirmed that Punk was indeed leaving WWE after MITB and had not signed a new contract, it seemed like a surefire bet that Cena would walk out of the PPV with the WWE title in tact, despite being in front of a very hostile Chicago crowd against the city’s favorite son. Instead, Punk not only walked out of the Allstate Arena with the WWE title in his grasp, but continued to rub in the face of the company, including a very famous incident where he showed up at the San Diego Comic-Con with the belt and began yelling at Triple H via megaphone. Add in all of the build-up to this match over the previous few weeks where no one was sure what was going to happen-including, apparently, a lot of the employees on the WWE roster-and it made for one of the most interesting stories to come to wrestling in a long time, both inside the ring and out. While Punk was on a crusade to change wrestling because it was no longer fun, something amazing happened: fans watching actually began having fun watching these events unfold. Punk made a lot of us remember what wrestling once was and could still be again. Granted, it mostly turned into an angle and a re-birth for CM Punk’s character (a welcome one at that), but for those few weeks, CM Punk and WWE reminded me just how much fun wrestling could be if done right.
Steve U – The Rock Returns to WWE: Besides my match of the year candidates, I never felt so much joy and jubilation in wrestling until I heard IF YA SMELLLLL… What the Rock is cooking. He came back and I was 7 years old again. I remember being in my college dorm room with my friends watching Raw trying to guess who the guest host would be. We figured it could be the Rock with John Cena hinting at it but we hadn’t seen the Rock in years so it could have been anyone. Once he appeared came down the ramp and did his shtick and called out Cena I was ecstatic. Then when he challenged Cena for Mania and showed back up at Survivor Series I was elated. I got the chance to see his first match back and he hasn’t lost a step. Fans woke up and maybe him coming back means better business for wrestling… even if it is via satellite.
WWE Match of the Year
Eric G – Randy Orton vs. Christian Over the Limit, May 22, 2011: This is what I wrote on the CCB immediately after watching the match. “I can’t say it enough, this was a great match. I would give this Match of the Year for the WWE at this point, even over Triple H vs. The Undertaker. For all of the psychology Triple H vs. The Undertaker lacked, Orton vs. Christian had it. I can’t think of a better match that Randy Orton has ever had.”
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I stand by that today. I think this series was the best the WWE has had since Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho in 2008. My favorite portion of the series was the first few matches where the WWE booked them both as babyfaces. It was everything a championship rivalry should be between two “heroes.” Even after the heel turn, the matches continued to get better and while some were fantastic, I don’t think anything was better than at this stage in the feud.
Jeff P – CM Punk vs. John Cena (Money in the Bank 2011): This was a real tough one to choose because there were some really good matches this year from Randy Orton vs. Christian at Capital Punishment to Triple H vs. The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 27. But when it comes down to a match that you will most remember in 2011 it will have to be Punk/Cena from Money in the Bank 2011. It had people talking leading into the match and it had people talking after the match.
Thomas H – CM Punk vs. John Cena at Money in the Bank 2011: I racked my brain thinking about other matches that could be here other than CM Punk vs. John Cena at Money in the Bank. I tried and tried and tried some more to make rationalizations for affairs like Punk against Dolph Ziggler on the RAW after Survivor Series, or any one of the Randy Orton/Christian matches or even the Punk/Cena rematch at SummerSlam. I just couldn’t do it. Punk and Cena were embroiled in a perfect storm. They were two guys who always had good matches with each other, wrestling in front of the most insanely hyperactive crowd in recent memory with a once-in-a-lifetime situation. There were so many outside factors. Would Vince McMahon try to re-create the Montreal Screwjob? Would Punk really walk out of WWE with the Championship if he had won? Would the crowed really have rioted if Punk lost?
For the amount of hype and questions and mystique around the match, it delivered. No movement was wasted. The crowd was intense and hanging on every moment, every little turn of action. There were the sweeping tropes for the fans at large, and there were Easter eggs for the more hardcore fans, the most noticeable being Punk celebrating with Ace Steel and Colt Cabana after a successful suicide dive to the outside. The end of the match might have been the most positively memorable PPV close in history, with McMahon and Cena showing how much the WWE title meant to each of them in their own different ways. And then, just like that, after the decision and the awarding of the title, Punk was gone. He kissed McMahon and WWE goodbye for the time being, and he was gone.
For a resolution that only really served as a bookmark for the future, more final chapter, it sure was as memorable as a complete ending.
The story telling in the match was classic yet basic as Cena & Punk put on a really good match. It told a story inside the ring and fed off the electricity that sat outside it. You were on the edge of your seat because you wanted to see what would happen next. The match itself was the most talked about match in 2011 in any wrestling company and therefore is the reason why I choose it as my WWE Match of the Year.
Brett C – CM Punk vs John Cena at Money in the Bank: The match that REALLY put CM punk on the map as a guy who could be the face of the company. I still remember that night like it was just yesterday. Social networking was abuzz just wondering if it really would be CM Punk’s last night with the company. Him leaving the company seemed like a certainty, but as the show grew near, SWERVE was on everybody’s mind. This match was absolutely electric. I, personally, can’t think of any match in the last 5 years (that didn’t involve the Undertaker and Wrestlemania, anyway) that had a crowd so invested in it. And KUDOS to the fans at Chicago on that night for making this match what it was. If you ever need proof that an audience is just as pivotal to how a match will be looked back upon historically as the actual ringwork itself, look no further than this one. It was reminiscent of John Cena and Rob Van Dam at One Night Stand. This match was also a clinic in how a main event should be done. As I wrote right here on the Camel Clutch Blog (http://camelclutchblog.com/july-17-2011-the-day-john-cena-proved-to-be-money-in-the-bank/), CM Punk may have walked out of Money in the Bank as the Superstar, but it was John Cena who actually proved to be “Money in the Bank.”
Honorable Mention: Randy Orton vs Christan “Over the Limit”, Undertaker vs Triple H “WrestleMania 27”, Davey Richards vs Eddie Edwards “Ring of Honor: Best in the World”, Christian vs Alberto Del Rio “Extreme Rules”, Any Match featuring Dolph Ziggler or Daniel Bryan, Any Match not featuring Sin Cara
Terri B – Edge (C) vs Rey Mysterio vs Kane vs The Big Show vs Drew McIntyre vs Wade Barrett in an Elimination Chamber Match at Elimination Chamber 2011 for the World Heavyweight Title: This category was hard for me to decide. There were several candidates for “WWE Match of the Year that I could have went with. I loved the HHH/Taker match at Mania 27, either of the Cena/Punk matches, and the Edge/Ziggler World Title match at Rumble. However, this particular match at Elimination Chamber 2011 was just brilliant from start to finish. The big men, Kane and Show were great, and Barrett, and McIntyre did great jobs. I thought McIntyre stood out especially well. However, it was Edge and Rey Mysterio who really were outstanding and showed why they were the amongst the best in the wrestling business. They worked well with the other participants, but when it came down to the two of them, the match went to another level. The last ten minutes of this match is worth the DVD. The false finishes, and Rey’s acrobatic antics were fantastic. Watching both men kicking out of each others’ finishes was awesome. The match ends with Edge spearing Rey in the end, and you see both guys laying there wiped out. Great stuff. Of course, you had Del Rio attack Edge post match, and Christian came to the rescue, and then Edge , I believe spears Del Rio, and takes his belt to the back. The other matches I mentioned were great, but this match impressed me the most this year.
Jerome W – The Undertaker vs. Triple H WrestleMania 27: Undertaker and Triple H at this year’s WrestleMania 27 was the best match on the entire card. For the most part, WrestleMania’s have been lackluster, but these two seasoned veterans of the game (no pun intended) showed the world they “still got it” with a match that had suspense and some really great action and even both of these talented superstars supposedly getting fined $2,500.00 with Undertaker taking an unprotected chair shot to the head during the match. The match had some great near falls showing that Undertaker actually could possibly lose the match (even though I expected him to win clean over Triple H). Both Undertaker and Triple H told a great story in the ring, thus deserving of match of the year for 2011.
Dustin N – CM Punk vs. John Cena at Money in the Bank 2011: While most are probably going to go with Triple H/Undertaker from Wrestlemania 27, I won’t be going that route. Sorry, but I really thought that match sucked. Instead, I’m going to have to go with CM Punk vs. John Cena at Money in the Bank. Never before was the future of a wrestler so up in the air. Would Punk lose and ride off into the sunset, or would he win and take the WWE title with him elsewhere? Punk and Cena faced off in Punk’s hometown of Chicago, and not only did they blow the roof off the place in front of a hot and hostile crowd, but Punk proceeded to get the match of a lifetime out of John Cena, proving that, when he chooses not to be Superman, Cena can actually put on a good performance. Yes, there were some botches in the match, and yes, there were probably better matches from a technical standpoint, but the still-excellent quality of the match combined with the atmosphere puts this one over the top.
Steve U- Tie between the Undertaker vs. Triple H at Wrestlemania / CM Punk vs. John Cena MITB: I can’t decide which match is better because I was so emotionally invested in both and they both stick out to me as phenomenal matches this year. These are how matches should be. You should be on the edge of your seat caring about who is going to win the match. Both had stipulations with two things at stake. The WWE Title and the Undertaker’s streak two of the most important things at stake in WWE. Taker/ Triple H brought a whole new level of violence to the Streak and Cena / Punk felt like a change was coming when Punk won. They both deserve match of the year and I don’t think anything else can hold a candle to those two matches this year.
WWE Angle of the Year
Eric G – The Rock vs. John Cena: The easy answer here is CM Punk but I think the way the angle ended really hurt it here. Plus, when you look at The Rock vs. Cena you can’t even touch the impact on business that it has had over any other angle the WWE has booked in 2011 and at the end of the day, the success of an angle comes down to business and this one is money in the bank (no pun intended).
I love that the WWE embraced the Cena hatred here and used it as the catalyst for The Rock’s return. The WWE could have easily pretended to ignore the obvious and had Cena and The Rock shaking hands and becoming best friends on night one. Instead they allowed The Rock to call out the yellow elephant in the room and the results thus far have been tremendous.
I don’t think anyone would argue that the dynamic between The Rock vs. Cena is what put the highly successful WrestleMania 27 over the top. The promos in and out of the ring leading up to the show were some of the best I have seen on WWE television for years. The angle has certainly had its ups and downs but overall it continues to be the most compelling in major league professional wrestling as far as I am concerned.
Jeff P – CM Punk’s promo from RAW Roulette on June 27th, 2011 that elevated him: You didn’t know if it was a shoot or a work. You couldn’t believe what you were hearing what CM Punk was saying on your television as it was happening. You were texting your friends to turn on WWE RAW right now whether they were current wrestling fans or former wrestling fans. It accomplished what it needed to do & that was make people talk about it and to sell a match/feud.
Thomas H – CM Punk: Great angles come in many different shapes and sizes, but sometimes, the best stories come from things that don’t feel like stories at all. When CM Punk came out wearing a Steve Austin t-shirt on June 27th to cost John Cena his match with R-Truth, no one thought anything of it. It was standard operating procedure to have this kind of chicanery pervade the main event. However, when Punk took a microphone, sat Indian-style and proceeded to drop a pipebomb that shook the WWE to its core? Yeah, that moment started what should have been a revolution. For two months, the illusion that wrestling was cool again was prevalent throughout the landscape. Of course, Triple H and Kevin Nash had to glom the spotlight for themselves, but during that two month period, everything was alright with the World Wrestling Entertainment.
Thankfully, they’ve begun the course-correction back to having that feeling again. Was some of it lost thanks to the regression to the mean that happened between SummerSlam and Survivor Series? I think so, but it can be gained back if the people who stuck by continue to send out word that something new and different is happening in WWE, in wrestling.
Who knows if the Punk/Cena match would have even been considered a match of the year candidate if it wasn’t for the promo he cut on June 27th, 2011? The greatness of this promo will have to be determined for years to come due to the path of success CM Punk will take from here on out. As of right now it has helped make CM Punk a marketable face for the WWE, a star that adults watch the WWE product can relate too and still gives you that “man vs. machine” attitude that made Stone Cold Steve Austin so popular. It’s talked about now and it will be talked about for years after, it was without a doubt the angle of the year.
Brett C – CM Punk’s Worked Shoot & All That Came With It: Noticing a pattern here yet? Yeah, I’m all about CM Punk this year. The worked shoot promo that we’ve all watched many, many times now was one of the most memorable thing we’ve ever seen in years. In a time where every single thing that happens is pretty much leaked on the Internet before eyes ever see it, this was one of those magical moments that literally had all of us sitting there with our eyes wide open, jaws dropped, hair standing up, and our ears wanting to hear more. What followed with Punk crashing the WWE events at Comic Con, showing up at Indy events, and his Twitter trash talk was just as good. Based on the WWE booking we’ve seen over the years, I think it’s pretty obvious that this was mostly CM Punk’s idea. Truth is, there’s really no angle that was even close to this, but I’ll list a few honorable mentions anyway.
Honorable mention: Randy Orton & Christian’s feud, Beer Money’s trek/feud towards the TNA Heavyweight Title, and Kevin Steen being fired/rehired by Ring of Honor.
Terri B – CM Punk going “inside” with his promos, and his taking the WWE Title home with him: Well, for me, this one was easy, andwas a no brainer. I thought this was awesome. Here he was, watching Cena getting thrown into a table, I believe, by R Truth and Miz, and Punk sits down on the top of the ramp, and cuts a promo that includes a lot of “inside” stuff. I was like, “WOW.” The whole thing was cool. WWE bungled it by bringing Punk back too soon (one week)but I loved his running his yap talking inside stuff, I didn’t think Kevin Nash (who can’t cut a promo to save his life) needed to be dragged into the angle, but I loved how Punk took Nash to school on the mic. I loved his verbal spats with Triple H as well. Why John Laurinaitis is involved, I have no idea. He can’t cut a promo either, and Punk owns him too. However, overall, I loved this angle.
Dustin N – The Summer of Punk:
I’m starting to sound like a broken record here, but the “Summer of Punk” was just too good. While Punk’s contract was legitimately expiring at the end of Money in the Bank, no one really seemed to know what was going to happen next. Punk threatened that, if he won the WWE title, he’d take the belt with him to other promotions such as ROH or All-Japan. While most believed it was an angle, Punk was so good in his role as a bitter soon-to-be former employee complete with “work-shoot” promos that no one really knew what to think. When I watched it, I guessed it was probably an angle, but at the same time, there was that little sliver of doubt that maybe, just maybe, this was real. Furthermore, I know a lot of other fans felt the same way. In this day and age where wrestling fans are more jaded and cynical than ever (Yours Truly included) and spoilers are available the second a TV taping has ended, it’s hard to fool fans. When you as a promoter or wrestling promotion can create even that tiny sliver of doubt that I mentioned, you know you’ve got a great angle on your hands.
Steve U – CM Punk holds the WWE Title Hostage: No one saw this coming. This angle just happened out of nowhere when CM Punk got a live microphone. When he unloaded on WWE management people felt the same anger and disdain that Punk did after he dropped his “Pipe bomb.” The angle did fizzle out a little bit later but it got CM Punk on a main stage which works for me. When Punk held the title hostage I had to tune into Raw just because I didn’t know what was going to happen next. It should have went longer but for those few weeks wrestling was hot again and for that I commend Mr. Punk.
Dustin Nichols – As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/XDustinEFLX, and if you like Married…With Children, you can follow my Al Bundy parody account at http://www.twitter.com/bundyisms. Also follow my personal blog at http://nerdslikeme.blogspot.com (feedback is welcome).
Steve Urena – - [email protected]. Enjoy!
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Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.
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