The Cult of CM Punk
By: Mark Sweeney
Since that faithful Monday Night where CM Punk came out and cut the promo heard round the world I have been thinking about how CM Punk has not only changed the world of wrestling, sorry "Sports Entertainment" but how he has changed a lot of things outside "Fantasyland" as well. It has created a buzz around the IWC and the wrestling world in general the likes of which I have not seen in years. There is renewed hope that there is a shift back towards what we all love about wrestling, what made us stay up late to watch every PPV, every Raw so we would not miss what was about to happen [ living in Ireland, so yes we have to watch wrestling very late]. The Attitude Era gave us must see TV, we had to tune in to find out what Stone Cold was going to do to Vincent Kennedy McMahon on Raw, or what antics DX were getting upto, to see whose candyass The Rock was going to lay the Smackdown on. But we thought as we grew older that had simply slipped away from us, when in fact it had slipped away from the WWE, the wrestling world in general.
Sure there has been great wrestlers ... sorry "superstars" since then, but the spark, the lighting bolt if you will was missing, it turns out it was clinched in one taped up, straight edge fist, that of one CM Punk. Now being straight edge myself I connected with Punk from the first day I seen one of his matches, here was a no nonsense guy who left everything he had in the ring, someone on par with The Rock, Chris Jericho, Micj Foley or Roddy Piper on the mic, and a genuine passion and love for the business. When he made his debut in WWE in the Hammerstein Ballroom, you knew that those fans could feel something special, Paul Heyman knew and had ECW still been a proper promotion I think Heyman would have made CM Punk a star even quicker. I am glad Heyman's belief in Punk has paid off and I am sure he is laughing to himself. But what Paul Heyman seen in countless wrestlers over the years such as Stone Cold, Chris Jericho, Eddie" Guerrero, Chris Beniot, Rey Mysterio, Mick Foley... look the idea is the list goes on, it took the WWE and Vince McMahon a long time to see, and that is a major problem with the WWE now, it does not have someone like Heyman to show them the talent that is out there. But that is a story for another article. It took the WWE 6 years to fully understand what they had in CM Punk, the next era of wrestling.
So back to my original thought, CM Punk has helped create a huge buzz around wrestling again, and actually made fans care about what was happening. This has reached beyond the WWE Universe into all aspects of the entertainment world as Punk said himself, WWE does not get this kind of exposure unless someone dies!!. Outside the WWE Universe, media outlets have been picking up the story of CM Punk's promo, TMZ, GQ, even ESPN all covering what Punk has to say, if you haven't already read the excellent GQ article, have a look http://www.gq.com/sports/profiles/201107/cm-punk-wwe-wrestling-interview
and check out Bill Simmons excellent podcast with CM Punk. Even down to his entrance music he has made an impact outside of the WWE, with Living Colours - Cult of Personality shooting up the iTunes chart.
Inside the wrestling world CM Punk has set off a chain of events which has so many threads attached to it. Let's start with the obvious which is the Punk/Cena feud, or as I call it a NonFeud. I call it that because in the lead upto this I think Punk was feuding with the WWE and not Cena, John Cena simply happened to be the guy with the title. Cena played the role very well and I don't think he gets enough credit for his role in all of this, so this is all leading to a Summerslam Main Event. Champion versus Champion but after that match I believe their feud will be over, but what about the other threads.... You have Rey Mysterio, who must feel a little cheated in all this, does this finally lead to the Rey Heel turn where he feuds with Cena, or will he have another run with Punk? Then we have The Miz, who has started to get very vocal about the way things are going down, how is The Most Must See Champion going to react? Is he afraid that Punk is much more must see ? You have Alberto Del Rio, Mr. Money In The Bank, who can cash in his chips at any stage in all this, maybe Del Rio will become the first man to not win a title out of MITB. There is the HHH matter, now I for one hope HHH stays out of the ring in all this because I don't think he needs to step in the ring. But has he brought CM Punk back to screw him over for "Pop" being relieved of his duties or has HHH brought Punk back because he wants to change things? Where does Vince come into all of this? For the last 5 years Vince has taken the summer off in spectacular fashion but is this the end of VKM? Can he come back after tears on national television ? There are many threads that lead off all these angles but where will the WWE take us ?
There are many other things within the WWE, that Punk's "Real Era" has put into place. Zack Ryder has been brought up after months of getting himself over online, in a very real and positive way. Again this is a story for another article but Punk's promo was the genesis for Ryder appearing on TV. Daniel Bryan has taken his first step toward a World Title and they don't get any realer than D Bry. Good Ole JR is back on Raw, the only thing that would have made the MITB Main Event better would have been Jim Ross calling the match. But again this happened due to the new HHH regime, which came about thank to the "Real Era".
But how has Punk helped the wrestling world outside of the WWE Universe? Well Colt Cabana has seen his popularity rise, and right so, how long before we see Scotty Goldman back in a WWE ring? Hopefully never, but I would love to see Colt Cabana in the WWE. Colt has major talent and is great on the mic, he is a fun guy and every era of wrestling needs guys like him. Ring of Honor got a mention from Punk and they are about to appear on TV, this should give them a nice boost in numbers coming off a great iPPV. And I believe ROH are in Chicago next, I firmly believe a certain WWE Champion must show up, everyone gains from this, ROH get massive exposure, WWE get to build a bridge to a promotion who, lets face it will provide them with the stars of tomorrow and with the WWE looking to sign the Kings of Wrestling, this could go a long way to helping. Hell even TNA have jumped on the Punk wagon and are offering his PPV matches from 2003-2004 through their on demand service. Every corner of the wrestling world has been touched by the Real Era.
So how did CM Punk cast his shadow so far? By being himself, pure and simple. Fans connected to Punk, he is the last angry man, he is the guy who loves what he does but is sick of the way things are done. He is the guy who made himself, he worked his way up. built a following and just showed everyone he is the best in the world at what he does. CM Punk, although he may deny it in some ways is the perfect role model, straight edge, drug free is a given, no one will ever have to hold him down to save the company embarrassment. But beyond that, he shows that hard work and standing up for what you believe can get you to the top. It took him almost walking away from the WWE to save it. And now the world is asking what next? Every week we are left with a cliff-hanger, every week we have more questions than answers, What will Punk say on Raw? Why is he back? Who is the real champion, How will all the superstars mentioned above be involved. I am excited again, watching MITB made me feel like a 10 year old kid sitting in front of a TV with bad reception listening to Wrestlemania because the signal was scrambled, CM Punk has given wrestling back to the fans and I am proud to say I am part of The Cult of CM Punk!!!
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