The kudos have been coming from all quarters for the work turned in by John Cena and CM Punk in the main event of WWE's Monday Night Raw last night (Feb. 26). According to Dave Meltzer on the latest edition of Wrestling Observer Radio though, Vince McMahon was not happy at all when the two men came through the curtain following their match.
The root of Vince's ire was one of the things that most dazzled fans, media and fellow wrestlers: CM Punk's piledriver to Cena toward the end of the match, which led to one of the many false finishes. Despite exuberant responses like this one, from a WWE employee and Harvard Law School graduate:
McMahon was apparently furious with John Cena and CM Punk for using a banned move in their match on Monday Night Raw, and had a post-match blow up over it backstage.
The piledriver was presumably banned from use in WWE, somewhere around 2000:
Following the 1997 Intercontinental Championship match, when a botched version of the maneuver from Owen Hart left Steve Austin with a broken neck, and in a political climate that left the corporation liable to lawsuits from fans, the piledriver was deemed dangerous enough to go beyond "Don't try this at home" status and straight into "Don't try this PERIOD".
Anyone who has seen the last few WrestleMania events knows that piledrivers still do occur in WWE rings. However, according to testimony given by Executive Vice-President Stephanie McMahon-Levesque before a United States House of Representatives committee, as of 2007 there were only two workers allowed to execute the maneuver, due to the potential for error and injury.
McMahon-Levesque also indicates that use of especially dangerous match choreography is to be cleared with the company beforehand. Therefore, it would be difficult for Cena and Punk to claim ignorance of the ban.
It has been presumed that, in addition to the piledriver, chair shots to the head and "blading" are on the forbidden list. Nevertheless, Undertaker, one of the men given special dispensation to perform the piledriver, and HHH, Vince's son-in-law and a company executive himself, used chairs to the head in their match in 2011. Though they reportedly were levied fines of undisclosed amounts, many have questioned the fines and alleged that they were a public relations move, due to the visibility of the incident occurring at the company's largest pay-per-view (PPV) event.
Punk himself is familiar with the restrictions of the PG and concussion awareness era in pro wrestling's largest promotion. After blading in his match with Jerry Lawler on Raw last summer, the former WWE champ claimed to have been fined five hundred thousand dollars for the act. Many doubted the claim, and the lack of a suspension for "getting color" on free TV seemed to indicate he had climbed to the same level as Hunter and 'Taker.
Which leaves us at every "smart" wrestling fan's favorite game -- what is really going on here?
Would the two biggest full-time stars on the WWE roster conspire to use a verboten stunt in a huge match, knowing that Vince and Triple H were watching from backstage? Perhaps they were counting on The Game, a vocal old school wrestling fan, taking their side.
Is Vince's anger just another example of his infamous temper and reaction-based decision making on-set of his flagship program? How does it jive with his reported call to the troops to make every Raw special in the run-up to WrestleMania XXIX, something the reaction to Cena and Punk's match in general and the piledriver spot in particular certainly accomplished?
There will almost certainly be nothing beyond token punishment of the two, especially at this time of year and in the wake of another 'mania main-eventer avoiding immediate repercussions for a wellness-related violation. Could the whole thing be a work to draw even more eyes to the already classic match?
What do you think Cagesiders? Are the boys getting legitimate heat from the boss, or is this just another wrinkle to a soon to be legendary contest? Is there a double standard for certain guys? Does that make the whole "banned" list useless for one of its goals of protecting impressionable fans and not getting sponsor's and the government's dander up?