Punk! Cena! Heyman! Foley! Ryback? Chaos at the Top! WWE Championship!
There is a lot going on in the main event of Monday Night Raw, so lets break this down a bit more than we usually do.
First we have the WWE Champion CM Punk, his manager Paul Heyman, and the General Manager of Monday Night Raw AJ Lee. Last week (Sept. 24) Punk opened the show sitting in a chair in the middle of the ring with Heyman at his side, calling out the replacement ref. Brad Maddox and the "idiot General Manager" AJ. Why those in WWE feel the need to protest against AJ by sitting in a chair all of a sudden is beyond me, but to each their own. The point is that Punk and Heyman went out there to show up and embarrass the GM. Punk brought up how AJ was deeply in love with him only a few short months ago, and Heyman, the greasy slimeball that he is, got down on one knee and actually proposed to AJ.
And it was awesome.
All of these shenanigans by Punk, though, are meant to serve a single purpose; to hide the fact that the WWE Champion is scared. He is scared of the fact that he's held the title for 316 days and it seems worthless. He is scared of the fact that no matter how great his matches or feuds are, he is stuck playing second banana. He is scared of the fact that no matter how many times he raises that blinged out atrocity of a belt over his head, he will never have the title that truly matters.
He will never be John Cena.
So he plays his little games such as embarrassing AJ or calling out a replacement ref. who made a mistake. He demands respect from the wrestlers, the announcers, and the WWE Universe because he doesn't know what else he has to do to be the top guy in the promotion.
Enter Mick Foley.
The hardcore legend himself, the man who has sent thousands of children to the hospital trying to replicate his stunts, came out last week to give Punk some unsolicited advice. "Mrs. Foley's Baby Boy" is a certified Attitude Era legend, a status that Punk could only hope to reach. And how did he do it? Was it a series of amazing technical matches? A long, extended championship reign with numerous successful title defenses? Was it a character that had depth and subtlety?
Nope. The "glorified stuntman" fell off a 20-foot high contraption. Twice.
It was in that moment that Mick Foley became a legend. It was a moment that changed Foley from a pro wrestler to a pop culture icon. The always insightful K. Sawyer Paul has it 100% right when he says that "above all else, the most precious coins you can amass in the WWE Universe are moments."
Punk's infamous "Pipe Bomb" was a moment. Punk winning the WWE Championship at Money in the Bank 2011 was a moment. After that, though? He's had very few moments. So he bitches and moans about not getting respect and being forced down the card.
Enter John Cena.
Cena is out there collecting moments such as headlining WrestleMania 28 against The Rock and getting the crap kicked out of him by Brock Lesnar at Extreme Rules. He is also getting surgery on his elbow, putting him out of commission for five more weeks. In some ways it's hard not to feel bad for Cena. The guy has busted his ass for WWE for the better part of a decade. He is putting himself out there, through injury and personal issues, week in and week out. I almost thought he was going to break into tears last week when he was talking about his surgery. It is always tough to face your own humanity, to realize that you may not actually be a super hero. Cena, both the character and the man, has always been able to rise against all opponents. But what can you do when the greatest opponent is your own body?
And then he smacks Punk with a lead pipe and starts with this "real men wear pink" garbage and all that empathy goes out the window.
So Cena may not show up tonight, and possibly not for the next few weeks. Instead of working in a storyline where Punk injures him and he has to miss a Pay-Per-View (PPV), he is penciled in at Hell in a Cell. Whether this is Cena's doing or WWE's is irrelevant. The plan is for an injured wrestler to come back from major surgery, a plan that may not work out.
Really WWE? You are going to close the show with Ryback staring down CM Punk? That's the best guy on the roster to take Cena's place? I made the joke at the end of last week's Precap that Ryback was simply a rib on Goldberg, a parody of the dominating monster. Now he's turned into the next potential contender to the WWE Championship. How this idea even came into existence is beyond me. There's not another face on the roster that could use the rub? Alex Riley still gets quite the pop. There are plenty of guys in development that could use the exposure. Hell, Zack Ryder is openly wondering if now's the time for a gimmick change. What is the Hell in a Cell match if not the perfect environment to make a comedy wrestler seem a bit more serious?
Instead, we get an injured John Cena as Plan A to face CM Punk for the WWE Championship, and a green as hell Ryback as Plan B.
This makes me fear what exactly Plan C would be.
Apologies for the extended main event preview. Not much time left, so right to the bullet points.
Everything Else! Bullet Points!
- WWE is holding a number one contenders tournament for Daniel Bryan's and Kane's Tag Team Championship. It is still shocking that they have enough teams to even fill out a bracket. Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow) defeated The Usos on SmackDown (Sept. 28), which leaves Tyson Kidd & Justin Gabriel against Zack Ryder & Santino Marella, The Primetime Players opposite R-Truth & Kofi Kingston, and Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara facing Primo & Epico. While the outcome is all but set in stone (Hell No defending the titles against Rhodes Scholars), this is still awesome to see. Tag teams you guys!
- There will also surely be more of Dr. Shelby and Hell No's anger management classes. There will come a time when this is overdone. We have not reached that point yet.
- Now that the National Football League (NFL) referee lockout is over, one might assume that WWE will drop its own storyline mocking it. However, it is well known that Vince McMahon doesn't actually follow any pop culture outside of WWE. So expect this to continue until December.
- AJ's Faces. That is all.
Hopefully this has prepared you for the night's activities. Leave a comment about what you are looking forward to, and please join Nolan, myself, and the entire CSS Monday Night gang in the live blog here.