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Five Takeaways From The CM Punk Vs. John Cena Angle

C M Punk wins the WWE title at Money in the BankThe pro wrestling summer of 2011 will be remembered for CM Punk. Punks’ fans and supporters got excited, proclaiming Punk as the newest WWE elite superstar. Yet I don’t think any of us expected to be watching a CM Punk vs. Kevin Nash feud eight weeks later.

Eight weeks ago when Punk sat down on the RAW ramp cutting arguably the most memorable wrestling promo of the decade, he became the talk of the pro wrestling world. Fans that had not watched wrestling in years were all talking about CM Punk and his threats of taking the WWE title to Ring of Honor and beyond. While nobody knew exactly where this thing was going to go, most agreed that it would end with Punk as a WWE superstar on the level of John Cena and Randy Orton.

It only got better. The storyline was fresh, the ideas were new, and fans spent hours on blogs, podcasts, and in conversations predicting what would happen at Money in the Bank 2011. Never has a WWE “B” show in the middle of the summer had as much buzz as MITB. Surely it would turn out to be a blockbuster event solidifying Punk’s position as a top draw in the WWE right?

Well things didn’t necessarily go as planned and I think a lot of lessons can be learned here. This isn’t a blog as much about CM Punk not living up to expectations, as it is a reminder of how we got to that legendary promo to a battle of wits with Kevin Nash on Monday Night RAW.

Fans were skeptical midway through the Punk vs. Cena angle but Punk told his fans to wait until the angle played out. Well, the angle has played out so the time is now to reflect back on the highs and lows of the Summer of Punk 2.

Get your backpack ready, sharpen your pencils, and sit up straight because it is time to reflect back on the lessons learned from the CM Punk vs. John Cena angle.

1 – There was no shoot. I hate to be the one that rains on your parade but I am sorry, there was no shoot interview. Was CM Punk going off of a script when he grabbed the microphone and took a seat on the RAW Roulette stage? No, but were things planned and did the WWE know exactly what was going down? They absolutely did.

Punk’s fans all gave each other high-fives when he let loose on Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, and Triple H. The McMahons and Triple H were all off television then so of course it seemed like a shoot. Then guess what happened? Slowly some of the things Punk spoke of in his promo started developing into storylines. Was that coincidence or was this all planned out ahead of time? The same people tht told the director that was told to pan to the right shot when Punk waived at Colt Cabana knew exactly what was going down. This was no shoot and you are fooling yourself if you think differently.

2 – The WWE booking has made it impossible for guys to be elevated. It is easy for Punk’s critics to sit back and point to Punk as a failure. The RAW ratings didn’t move and his Money in the Bank buyrate wasn’t nearly what was expected. But is it really his fault or did the company set him up to fail?

The lack of long term booking is killing the WWE. To the casual WWE audience that doesn’t watch Ring of Honor or spend hours online, they saw a guy who hasn’t done anything significant in a year challenging John Cena. Why should the fans get excited about seeing the guy that just put Randy Orton over multiple times challenging for the title? Why should the fans get excited about seeing the guy who led a group of guys who turned out to be low-mid level Nexus wrestlers challenge for the title?

To you and me, it was CM Punk the guy we all knew from the independents getting his opportunity at greatness. To the fans, Punk was just another guy like R-Truth being fed to John Cena. It didn’t work with him and it won’t work with anyone else. When I was a kid I watched guys like Ken Patera and Sgt. Slaughter run through numerous opponents without losing before they challenged for the title and it worked. Now, you see guys jobbed in and out for months before they get a crack at the WWE title and what happens? Nobody takes them seriously and this is what happened to Punk.

Hey, Punk comes in with this kind of angle after a year in the WWE and I think we would have seen different results. Unfortunately, until the WWE can plan ahead a year or two in advance, nobody will be able to deliver in their new roles as top guys. Not Punk, not Christian, not Jack Swagger, and not The Miz.

3 – Don’t forget which company you are watching. It is funny because when this angle started everyone had all of these great ideas about where it would go. Heck I even wrote an entire blog on scenarios for the Money in the Bank match. Point being, you had a storyline here with a lot of great possibilities yet unfortunately, this wasn’t a storyline being booked by Paul Heyman or anyone with a real clue.

Listen, I am guilty of it too. I wrote about all of my scenarios thinking that the WWE would maybe do something different and break away from their security blanket of predictable and lazy booking. I was fooled and so were you if you thought differently. Just the idea that we are subjected to watching a Punk vs. Kevin Nash feud tells you everything you need to know about what to expect from the company in future storylines. The lesson here is to keep your hopes low and blinders on.

4 – The Internet Wrestling Community isn’t as big a factor in pro wrestling as you think. As the owner of a pro wrestling and MMA blog, this pains me to write but it is true. In the grand scheme of things, millions of people watch the WWE every week. Unfortunately for us, most of those fans are children or fans not concerned about going on the Internet and joining forums or reading blogs.

Once again, anyone who jumped on the Internet the day after RAW Roulette would tell you that there was more buzz about the Punk angle than anything in years sans The Rock’s return. Media outside of pro wrestling like sports talk shows and pop culture writers jumped into the conversation. Yet at the end of the day, those people didn’t make a darn difference in the ratings or the buyrates. I hate to say it, but the influence of the Internet in the WWE is a lot less than most of us probably would have hoped for.

5 – In the end, nobody will ever beat John Cena. Yeah it happens from time to time and in this case, Punk probably got more wins on Cena than anyone throughout this feud. But when it is all said and done, John Cena isn’t putting over anyone whether they are CM Punk, The Miz, or even The Rock. It just isn’t going to happen.

My broadcast partner Jeff Peck and I got into a big discussion about this on the new Still Real to Us podcast. Jeff asked me if this was more Cena not wanting to put guys over or a booking decision. I gave Cena the benefit of the doubt. I haven’t heard many guys who worked with Cena complain about him not wanting to put them over. I just think the WWE thinks they have Cena, Orton, and nobody else and will protect their biggest asset at all costs.

That is all well and good but something has to give at some point. No, Punk didn’t put Cena over, but the whole thing was a joke. Giving Cena a belt and booking him as a WWE champion made Punk’s win seem meaningless. No, Cena didn’t pin Punk at SummerSlam 2011 but he was pinned with his foot on the ropes. Even the original win that started the feud was due to R-Truth distracting Cena. If you expected Punk to go over Cena clean and be properly promoted to the top of the cards with Cena, you were mistaken.

So there you have it. The Summer of Punk 2 is over and if anyone believes that a feud with Kevin Nash is a sign of Punk being elevated, you are just fooling yourself once again. Unfortunately most of us did that for the past eight weeks and while fun, the reality of the situation should have foreshadowed the conclusion of this angle many weeks ago.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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