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The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly Of CM Punk Returning To The WWE Now

CM Punk John Cena Staredown

It has been a week and I think it is about time to come down off the ledge after seeing CM Punk walk out on the ramp on WWE RAW to confront John Cena. He is back and going to Summerslam 2011. Are the WWE out of their minds or are they actually doing the right thing here?

I’ll be honest and when I saw it I cringed. I knew it was coming, well I had a very strong feeling and predicted the identical scenario on the Still Real to Us podcast a week earlier. But still, watching this great angle come crashing down was a big reminder that this is WWE 2011 and rarely, if ever do the fans get what they want.

Yet for about four weeks we did. For about four weeks the WWE gave fans like us something to get excited about. For a whole month, WWE RAW turned into must-see television. I can’t remember feeling that way about WWE programming on a weekly basis since the Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon feud. And yet in the blink of an eye, they pulled the rug right out from under us.

It has been a week and the dust has settled a bit. I talked with some friends and tried playing devil’s advocate on the situation. Unfortunately I started convincing myself that it was actually a great idea to bring him back so soon. Would I have done it differently? Absolutely, but in the end the situation would be exactly the same and CM Punk would be back after missing only one week of television.

So let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of Punk coming back to the WWE faster than any of us had hoped for.

The Good of CM Punk Coming Back to the WWE

1 – Cash in while the angle is hot. This angle between CM Punk, John Cena, and the WWE is red hot right now. RAW ratings don’t indicate much growth but merchandise sales and preliminary Money in the Bank 2011 buyrate information says differently. The WWE is a business and they need to answer to their stockholders before fans like us. What stockholder in their right mind wouldn’t expect the WWE to get the most money for their investment now and not later? Yes this thing could be red hot in November if it was left dormant, but who knows what the landscape looks like then.

Plus, you have a Rock vs. Cena match to promote. Leaving your hottest headliner on the sidelines for more than a couple of weeks just doesn’t make business sense whether we like it or not. SummerSlam 2011 is arguably the #2 or #3 WWE event of the year and needs a big main-event. The merchandise sales alone are enough to justify bringing him back so soon.

2 – CM Punk was never supposed to get the title anyway. Let’s be frank about this. All reports indicate that Punk was not scheduled to leave Chicago with the WWE championship. Up until a few days before the show, Alberto Del Rio was supposed to leave with the title, and the angle would have ended on July 17. It may be only a month, but we got CM Punk as WWE champion, and for about two weeks we got some fun pictures and videos we never were supposed to get in the first place. The WWE may be screwing this thing up now, but at least they played the smart hand in Chicago and let us have some fun for two weeks.

This goes back to something I wrote during the outrage over Randy Orton ending Christian’s WWE world heavyweight championship reign in two days. Christian was never supposed to get the title anyway. Punk was never supposed to get the title anyway, so be happy we got a month.

3 – CM Punk REALLY dodged a bullet this past Monday according to original plans. Reports indicate that the original plan was for Triple H to pedigree Punk on RAW, and for Alberto Del Rio to beat him in the ring for the title. This whole angle would have been over just as fast as it started. Now, we at least get two more weeks of Punk fun while avoiding the inevitable squash to Triple H.

4 – No matter how you slice it CM Punk is more over than ever. I am not saying that it will last forever, but right now CM Punk is the number two babyface in the WWE. That was never supposed to happen, nor would it have ever happened if not for this angle. A few months ago Punk was being squashed in tag matches with Nexus whereas he is now an elite WWE superstar. If there is any good to come out of this in the long run, it is that CM Punk will be booked strong at least for the interim.

5 – As a pro wrestling fan, you got to witness one of the greatest moments of your lifetime. The atmosphere for the CM Punk vs. John Cena Money in the Bank main-event in Chicago is something you may never see ever again. It was a historic moment and if that is the best you get out of this angle, well I’d probably say, “thank you WWE.”

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The Bad of CM Punk Returning to the WWE

1 – It’s over! The fun pictures, the cool videos, the high of chasing Punk on Twitter to find out exactly where he will be with the WWE championship is over. Remember how fun it was when you first heard about his confrontation with Triple H at Comic Con? How great were those pictures taken at a Cubs baseball game with the WWE championship or that surprise appearance at AAW? Those days are over and from now on the only place you will see CM Punk with the WWE championship is in the WWE.

2 – CM Punk’s credibility is at around zero. I don’t care how he spins it on Monday night, in reality he is a heel. He made false promises to his fans, and in a matter of 13 days broke every single one of them. The appeal of Punk was as something of an anarchist, the anti-establishment, the first guy since Steve Austin that made you believe he was really telling Vince McMahon to shove it. 13 days later he is back in the ring, smiling like a giddy schoolboy, walking out through the ramp, in his tights, and re-signed to the WWE. So in the end, he did take the money and will give in to WWE politics. Call me crazy but the guy comes off way more like a heel at this point than babyface, and from all accounts that is not where they are planning to go with this deal.

3 – The WWE may have sacrificed relationships in the media. I don’t know what the WWE public relations team tells a producer before he or she books CM Punk, but my hunch is that anyone who talked to Punk believed everything he said. 13 days later he is a lair and the WWE are liars for telling groups like GLAAD and media contacts that Punk was leaving, etc.

Yet it amazes me that people are still believing some of this angle was a shoot. I think it is fair to say that none of this was a shoot and you are living in a dream world if you think differently.

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4 – Just when it looked like he had their respect, John Cena once again loses credibility with hardcore pro wrestling fans. Look, at the end of the day the WWE could probably care less what hardcore fans think. Yet, they are making their voices heard when booing John Cena at the arenas. Unless John Cena throws the title in a trash can, he has lost a ton of credibility and respect among fans. Cena is actually coming off like a heel here by accepting a WWE championship he knows is not credible and holding his belt up against the guy that just beat him clean in the ring 13 days earlier. The idea that someone of Cena’s “character” would ignore a defeat and continue to proclaim himself WWE champion after 13 days is great…if you are trying to get Cena over as a heel.

The Ugly of CM Punk Returning to the WWE

1 – The WWE will find it very hard to get people believing ever again. For a whole month you had fans and pro wrestling media who think they are so smart, openly questioning and even “reporting” on facets of the CM Punk storyline as if it was a shoot, specifically the CM Punk RAW Roulette promo. Quite frankly, those people should have known better, but the WWE had them. It will be a long time before anyone is convinced, no matter what is said in a promo, that what they are seeing is a shoot or work.

2 – The WWE once again shoots itself in the foot by killing a major stipulation. You sell people a pay per view on the premise that the guy challenging for the title is leaving with it, and you bring him back 13 days later? This is exactly why nobody gives a crap when someone actually does live up to their stipulation like Shawn Michaels retirement threats at WrestleMania 26. It is great to cash in now, but the long term ramifications may be worse than a quick sell here.

3 – Fans are angry! Thousands of pro wrestling fans have threatened to boycott the WWE for shooting this angle so soon. Is it a small minority or a big majority? If the early numbers for WWE Money in the Bank are an early indication, it is a bigger majority than you’d think. Granted they aren’t going to cripple the business, but it were fans like this that got behind other movements like ECW in the past, and eventually made their voices heard elsewhere. The shame of it is that if TNA Wrestling would give those fans what they wanted right now, they’d grab them. Unfortunately they have less of a chance of getting it there, than in the WWE.

4 – They left a lot of money on the table. Yes the short term reward of cashing in on the angle at SummerSlam 2011 is obvious, but what about the long term investment? How much more money would people pay to see CM Punk come back in a few months after antagonizing the WWE with videos, tweets, and pictures of him running around the world with the WWE championship? There was a lot and I mean a lot of potential here with this angle if the WWE let it play out, but unfortunately we will never know how that would have paid of thanks to the short sightedness of the current WWE brass.

What do you think? Did CM Punk come back too early? Are you angry? Let me hear about it and leave a comment.

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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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