If you've watched WWE Raw Supershow at any time over the past four months then you've likely heard CM Punk say that all he wants is to "make pro wrestling fun again." He's made it his mission to single-handedly make WWE an interesting place, the way its been during its various glory years in the 80s and 90s.
His chosen method of getting there, however, has been somewhat baffling.
Punk is clearly an intelligent man. Not necessarily in the sense that he's well read but rather he's clearly as savvy as it gets in his chosen craft. That's why I find it odd that he's continuing to navigate his promos in the manner he is.
Take for example the promo he cut on Alberto Del Rio this past Monday night (Nov. 7) on Raw. Here's an excerpt:
"You're absolutely right. You're the WWE champion, you're one tough hombre, you're a hell of a competitor but guess what? You're also a lot of other things. Like when you open your mouth, when you grab that microphone, you happen to be one dimensional. 'It's my destiny!' It was your destiny to come to the WWE and become the next big thing. It was your destiny to be the WWE champion. But for all of your destiny speeches, you don't really have anything interesting to say, do you? I mean, all the people watching at home on DVR see you with a microphone in hand and they fast forward. And when they fast forward, they don't miss a damn thing, do they?"
This is consistent with the shoot style promos Punk has been utilizing since his infamous segment back on the June 27 episode of Raw earlier this year. His words have been analyzed and dissected six ways from Sunday but I want to beat this dead horse just a bit more because it didn't quite occur to me why the "Reality Era" has become a problem until listening to Punk shred Del Rio.
Finding the right way to skillfully navigate a promo is an art that far too few pro wrestlers ever truly master, if such a thing is possible. The business model is built on free television as a way to sell fans on spending money on payoff matches at pay-per-views each month. In this instance, Punk has to find a way to make us hate Del Rio but only in the sense that we want to see him lose. That's the difficult part. If Punk pushes too hard and goes too far, he'll risk losing the audience because he'll kill the incentive to watch Del Rio do anything. In essence, he has to talk him down while talking him up.
That's why I'm baffled he chose to utterly and completely take Del Rio to task for being "boring." Of all the insults Punk could possibly levy at "ADR," calling him boring is absolutely the worst. Alluding to the fact that Del Rio has no charisma and is a one-trick pony with the same talking point does nothing to make a fan want to pay to watch him wrestle. In fact, it has the opposite effect.
It was okay when Punk was doing this with Kevin Nash because there weren't many folks that were all too keen on spending any money on a potential match between the two. But Del Rio is the WWE champion. He's the guy Punk will theoretically defeat to win the title. Taking it as far as we can go, does that not diminish Punk's theoretical championship victory before it even happens?
I'm sure there are plenty of fans who will tell me I'm taking this too far or "thinking about it too hard." But to make a storyline work, the integrity of the story must be upheld at all times. This is why shoot style promos only work in small doses. The reality is that Del Rio does, indeed, have his shortcomings. But so does Punk and I'd rather they not be laid out to bare.
Look no further than Smackdown to see how simple storylines with compelling characters are far and away more effective.
If CM Punk really wants to make WWE so interesting again, maybe he should start by avoiding making whoever it is he's working with look so laughably incompetent. It's not good for business.