CM Punk's timing couldn't have been much worse, last night. As you all know by now, Cagesiders, Punk reacted to being jostled, shoved and struck by nearby fans in the worst way possible. He spun round and punched an innocent bystander twice, due to the perpetrator of the blows to his kidney and back slinking away like a coward as soon as he had got his licks in. Even though it was an understandable knee-jerk response to the situation, it was still an unpardonably reckless action, as it could have easily been a helpless child or a woman behind him that he accidentally hit. With Linda McMahon's U.S. Senate election just four weeks away, WWE needs to be squeaky clean and any controversies like this needed to be avoided at all cost.
But as per usual, the Connecticut media have completely dropped the ball in analysing how today's WWE's slip ups reflect on Linda McMahon as a political candidate. She may no longer be WWE's CEO, but she is still a co-owner of the company and must still have at least some say in how it is run.
The local politicos have largely ignored the story. The only one who didn't, Neil Vigdor of the Greenwich Time made a passing reference to the Punk incident in a blog post where he concentrated on making fun of Vince McMahon's appearance on last night's Monday Night Raw. It's really amazing that after three years of Linda's new career in politics, the journalists that cover her race day in and day out still don't do their homework on the business she owns, instead treating it as the subject to hone their skills as amateur jokesters.
Disregarding Punk's actions for a second, the fact that Vince McMahon was even on Raw last night shows how desperate he is to turn round the show's flagging ratings, as the best thing for his wife's electoral chances is that he stays out of the public eye until the race is over. A desperation that borders on insanity when Vince risked his health and wellbeing by wrestling a very physical match with Punk, just weeks after we saw what can potentially happen when a senior citizen tries to do that. Instead of castigating Vince for needlessly jeopardising his own life and the future of his own company, hey, let's laugh at the crazy old bastard, because that rasslin' is all fake fun and games, isn't it?
Back to Punk, in Vigdor's article, there was no criticism of WWE for scripting one of their performers where he could potentially get attacked by fans or their lax security that led to the incident spiralling out of control. Moreover, there was no attempt to follow up with WWE to see if Punk was punished for his accidental assault of an innocent victim. So far, the only internal punishment for what should be a cardinal sin is an apology scripted for him by a WWE spokesman. Which is a joke when considered in the light of WWE's high profile anti-bullying campaign and membership of the Be A Star Alliance, the hypocrisy of which knows no bounds. What message does it send to the impressionable young WWE fans that may idolise Punk? That the answer to provocation from bullies is to become a bully yourself. That if your a big enough WWE star the same rules don't apply for you. I understand that with John Cena currently out of action that CM Punk is currently carrying the Raw brand and a suspension is out of the question, but there's no reason why WWE can't fine him and give the money to a charity, so that a message is sent that violence against fans by WWE performers is not tolerated in any circumstance other than self defence and even then it should only be done in a manner that doesn't place innocent bystanders at risk.
If the Connecticut media can't even see the bigger picture regarding Punk's physical pipe bomb, then there's no hope of them connecting the dots with the more innocuous sounding story of Alberto Del Rio, in his role of being a big bad meanie, ripping the sign of an 8-year old fan and mocking his tears, to WWE's and Linda McMahon's continued hypocrisy on the issue of bullying. Of course, their public concern for bullying only came when they were called out on the carpet by GLAAD for scripting their top babyface John Cena to make several homophobic jokes in the run up to WrestleMania 27 in order to make him seem cooler and edgier than The Rock, and fight the continued backlash to his clean cut persona. It also has the advantage of giving WWE a veneer of phoney non-partisanship, as well-meaning but naïve Democrat politicians like Linda T. Sánchez sign up to help them with their anti-bullying campaigns without knowing anything about their past history or the mixed messages their current product sends out.
Even local former WWE performer Tammy Lynn Sytch's repeated arrests (she's now up to five) in Branford, Connecticut for domestic abuse, violating protective orders and burglary, after quickly falling off the wagon again after a recent stint in WWE sponsored rehab gets little ink in her home state. It's worth noting that Sytch likely had a substance abuse problem throughout her career working for Linda McMahon in the WWF from 1995-1998 and it was only when she could no longer reliably perform that they fired her.
For an alternative take on similar subjects, please read Irv Muchnick's latest post, as all the WWE craziness of the last few days has provoked him to take a short break from covering the more serious subject of sexual abuse within USA Swimming and give his thoughts on how this reflects on would-be stateswoman Linda McMahon.