Add to Technorati Favorites

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Booking Punk

Here is a scenario of how I would book the next few months, potentially making Cena the WWE's number one heel, Punk the number one babyface, and maybe even a phenomenal Wrestlemania line-up.


It’s the last Raw before Money in the Bank. CM Punk attempts to get into the building multiple times. They stop him. Cena can say he is happy to face Punk but Vince, Raw GM, and so forth keep Punk out. 

Cena is in the main event v The Miz or similar, and the match degenerates with Miz fighting Riley to force a countout. Camera widens, to see “CM Punk” in the ring. He attacks, and the crowd (hopefully) go crazy. The announcers sell it huge. Maybe they even say he looks taller than usual.

Security, agents, etc, move Punk out of the ring in a huge pile. Cam back to the ring, where the real CM Punk now stands. GTS. Cena laid out.

Everyone realises that it wasn’t actually Punk. It was Tyler Black (they don’t have to namecheck him).
You then make a huge thing about it on Smackdown, and then throughout the PPV keep going backstage awaiting Punk ‘s arrival at the building. Maybe threaten that he won’t show up. He arrives during the show surrounded by security and hoopla.

There is a real need to make sure the rest of the PPV is a belter. Go all out with the MitB matches. Rey Mysterio wins the Raw version.

Main event time. Long match, which goes this way and that. Cena throws everything at Punk, who keeps kicking out. Kicks out of an FU, survives ages in the STF. Eventually slaps on the Anaconda Vise. Cena’s arm drops once. Drops twice. Drops a third time. Punk leaps in the air, his music plays, Justin Roberts announces him as champion.

He celebrates, turns into Cena, who drops him with an FU. Music abruptly stops. 1-2-3. Confusion. Ref hands Cena the belt, announcers sell shock. Punk goes nuts, starts destroying the set, security drag him out. The announcers watch and commentate on a replay. They come to the conclusion that Cena’s arm did drop and the ref made a terrible call. They put over that like him or hate him, Punk deserved to win that match. How will he react? Will he turn up at Raw? Will they change the decision? Tune into Raw. And you would, wouldn’t you?

Raw features the first seeds of a Cena heel turn. He starts the show and brags about beating Punk easily. The commentators question the truth of that (That’s where Michael Cole being untrustworthy is a fault. Could do with JR really)and Cena is interrupted by Rey Mysterio, carrying his MitB briefcase. They fist bump and hug and whatever. John does his thing: “Hey everybody, it’s Rey Mysterio, he won Money in the Bank last night. Let’s hear it. You were great Rey, well done. Did you see my match? I was awesome, wasn’t I?” Or something to that effect.

Rey responds that he is happy that Cena beat Punk, but “it wasn’t easy John.  I hate to say it, but he put up a great fight.”

John: “I always had it under control. He’s really not all that hard to beat.”

Rey: “He beat me fair and square a couple of times. I may not like the guy, but he’s a great wrestler. Are you saying that since Punk beat me, you could beat me easily too?”

John: “C’mon, Rey, let’s not get into this, huh? We’re buddies. We’ve been buddies since we first joined the company in 2002. We have fought side by side. I don’t want to fall out with you.” They shake hands.

Cena continues: “Especially over something as obvious as the fact that I could beat you easily”

Rey: “Excuse me? You could beat me easily? Have you forgotten who I am?”

John: “I know exactly who you are. You’re the guy who has had two World title reigns. In the first one you kept losing non-title matches, and the second you were champ for what, three minutes? I like you man, and you’ve done great to get where you are, but you’re no World Champion. You’re no John Cena.”

Rey: “Oh is that right? Well maybe my mask slipped down in front of my eyes, but last night I saw CM Punk beat you, and saw the referee totally screw up, and I have to ask whether it was intentional or not. You are WWE Champion by the grace of God.....or maybe the grace of Vince McMahon.

“The more I think about it, the more I realise that what was said a couple of weeks ago was all a ruse. Vince didn’t want to fire you. In fact, he was making you sure you won and stayed. I never thought I’d be saying this, but CM Punk is the real WWE Champion.”

Out come Nexus. They blast Mysterio and Cena for failing to respect their leader CM Punk, and blame them for Punk’s departure. They challenge Cena and Mysterio to a handicap match on that edition of Raw, which becomes the main event.

A standard match takes place, with Rey receiving a hot tag and taking out Nexus. He sets up a 619, runs the ropes, and gets nailed by a Cena clothesline. Or, even better, by Rey’s Money in the Bank briefcase. An FU later, he leaves Rey to be pinned by Nexus.

The following week, Rey begins the show. He walks to the ring alone and with a purpose. He stands mid ring. “Cena....” he says, and pauses.

“CENA” he says again, this time more forcefully. He then points up. The briefcase descends from a wire, and Rey clutches it. He simply says “Summerslam”, before throwing down the mic and the briefcase.

After that I’m not so clear on the exact path. It would depend on Punk’s needs. However, my thoughts would be that Cena beats Rey at Summerslam, then perhaps beats Morrison and Riley in the weeks and months following. He could even win one-off matches on Raw against Big Show, Ezekiel Jackson, even Sin Cara. Cena just keeps winning, beating babyfaces, bragging about doing so, and pissing off his detractors. I’d keep a rivalry with Rey bubbling under the surface all this time.

You could even do Orton v Cena at Night of Champions, and have Cena win.

Meanwhile, during all this time, the announcers keep mentioning that Cena should have lost the belt to Punk, subtly turning Punk babyface in his absence. I’d even have Tyler Black/Seth Rollins wrestle sporadically and do well, occasionally getting the chance to speak and put Punk over.

At some point, with Punk’s promo and loss becoming fable, and Cena’s heel turn gathering apace, Punk returns out of nowhere, preferably after a PPV main event which Cena wins. The best choice I think would be Hell in a Cell at the start of October. Have Cena v Rey again, with Rey having earned his number one contenders spot, and after Cena prevails (just), Punk attacks. The number for the Raw the night after would be enormous.

Here’s a little idea for how Punk comes back. About six weeks from HiaC, Cena starts to become extra uppity about his status and tells the fans they don’t even deserve to see him walk to and from the ring. During this time, his music can play (maybe a new tune), and he walks onto the stage, poses, and the lights go off. When they come back on, he is in the ring. The reverse would happen when he wins, and leaves.

The lights go off after he has beaten Rey, as they have been doing, but this time the lights come back on quickly, while Cena is just about to exit the ropes. He looks up and sees Punk gripping on to the side of the Cell, which is just starting to lift off the ground. He drops to the floor, and dives into the ring, grabbing Cena and hitting the GTS.

You can then do Punk v Cena at Vengeance, with Punk the rebellious fan favourite in the Austin mould, and he wins the title.

Shortly afterwards, Cena stages a vicious attack on Punk, who vows revenge. I’d not even have a title match at Survivor Series. Instead Punk and Cena each head up teams, with Punk’s team winning, but Cena ducking out and getting counted out.

They meet again at TLC, and Punk again emerges victorious. Thanks to Vince McMahon, Cena gets granted another title shot at the Royal Rumble. You could even write into the story Punk being at odds with Vince from time to time, and Punk agrees to a stip that if he loses the title he agrees to forfeit his rematch clause, but if he wins he gets Vince at Mania. Cena then wins by dubious means.

The following night on Raw Cena states (as he would have on previous occasions) that Punk’s wins were fluke and that Punk somehow cheated, but this is a fair win, and proves that he, John Cena, is the man, no-one can beat him.

He then gets rushed by another returning Superstar, who nails Cena with his big move.

The Rock Bottom.

There is a post script to this story. Depending on how well Punk’s push and development goes, WWE keep the lines of communication open with Stone Cold Steve Austin. If he could be persuaded to do one more match, it could be with Punk.

Imagine a Mania which has not only John Cena v The Rock and Smackdown Champion v Rumble Winner, but also CM Punk, who could be the hottest property in wrestling, against the biggest star in WWE history.
This is all possible. I’m not saying it’s probable or even likely. But it’s possible. It could happen.

Have faith. 

Punk 3:16?

YESTERDAY, I was watching CM Punk’s astonishing Raw promo for about the twentieth time, and something came to me – CM Punk was wearing a Stone Cold Steve Austin t-shirt.

Now I wasn’t by any means the first or only person to spot this but, as I wrote on Twitter(@RobMcNichol) at the time, I am surprised more people are not commenting on Punk’s sartorial choice.

Those who follow both Austin and Punk on Twitter will know that their small face-off on screen a couple of weeks ago on Raw was a reference to their jokey rivalry, but moreover it is a nod to a very obvious level of respect between the two men.

That is surely why Punk wore a Stone Cold shirt, along with the idea that by wearing someone else’s shirt it was an extra thing to persuade viewers that what they were witnessing was ‘real’.

But there is an extra, perhaps unintentional, parallel between the two men, and the reason came fifteen years ago almost to the day.

On June 23 1996, when CM Punk would have been a seventeen year old wrestling fanatic, Steve Austin won the King of the Ring and told Jake Roberts “You talk about your psalms, talk about John 3:16? Well Austin 3:16 says I just kicked your ass.”

The industry, at that point, changed.

Although they would trail WCW and their hot nWo angle for some time, the WWF had seen the genesis of the man that would be their most successful character in their history.

The main reason, long term, for Austin’s popularity was that it came against a back drop of the WWF becoming stale, and then he found the perfect antagonist in Vince McMahon who stood for everything the fans hated about safe, boring TV and the caricature of the evil boss.

CM Punk’s tirade, however worked and scripted, hit on many points that people actually feel. Some people are tired of John Cena being considered the best, and do have concerns about the company’s use of guys like CM Punk.

In 1996, a groundswell of fans was growing tired of guys like Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart and Diesel being ‘safe’ heroes. Austin wasn’t an old-fashioned role model, but he was someone who had an edge that left fans thinking ‘I wish I could be like that’.

Punk has that, and it shone through his speech. Like Austin and his big moment, the character and the promo contained that elusive x-factor that leaves fans saying ‘That was cool’. Save for about a fortnight when The Rock came back, WWE hasn’t had a moment like this since the Nexus debut, and that more shock value than anything else.

And here’s the most important point about the CM Punk promo – it was done to draw money. TNA, like WCW before them, have had a host of angles which have hinted to a viewer that it is unscripted, but none have hit the mark. In fact, it is attempted so often that it has no (pardon the pun) impact any more. In fact, if Samoa Joe, for example, literally broke character and slated the company, it would cause barely a ripple because we’d all assume it was another Vince Russo swerve.

This angle is carefully cultured to draw. There is enough time to draw some TV ratings and to tell a story in the build to a Pay Per View, which fortuitously happens to be in Punk’s home town of Chicago. Expect an atmosphere of which we haven’t seen the like since the famous “If Cena Wins We Riot” match with Rob Van Dam at the Hammerstein Ballroom at the second One Night Stand PPV.

There is actually scope in all of this, down the line, to turn John Cena into a heel and change the direction of the company, if they so wish. Perhaps we can go into that more next time.

But for now, we need to revel in the fact that we have seen something very special. As always, it is the follow up that is oh-so-crucial. If handled correctly, this could be industry changing.

CM Punk just stepped into a world that very few wrestlers before him have entered – and that truly is the bottom line.