Pro wrestling, at its absolute best, is about telling the kind of stories that have always populated pop culture.
This was on display as much as ever when Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada met for a fourth time this past weekend at NJPW Dominion.
Endless words could be spent on the in-ring action — but perhaps Dave Meltzer calling it the best match he’s ever seen and doubting he’ll ever see anything that tops it speaks loudly enough... if Meltzer’s opinion holds that kind of weight for you.
Needless to say, it was a beautiful exhibition of the story that can be told bell-to-bell.
But the true story is in Omega’s triumph. The long story of his entire career that culminated in that moment and the more immediate story when he realized the value of friendship, love and family before celebrating with the people who give him those things after finally wresting the belt from the grasp of his greatest rival.
It’s the ending. The hero slays the dragon after realizing where true strength comes from. His relentless determination pays off in the end.
And then, we got the polar opposite on Saturday night. The cold reminder that real life does not often wrap up a man’s journey in such moments.
Phil “CM Punk” Brooks entered the UFC cage for the second time, having forsaken the world of professional wrestling, where he rates as one of the all-time greats and chasing a new dream.
Through his sheer popularity and the morbid “what is going to happen?” curiosity that has always been at the center of combat sports’ popularity, he was placed in position to fight both fights on pay-per-view. While this irked many, it was simply good financial sense on the UFC’s part.
Punk’s thorough trouncing by Mickey Gall in his MMA debut laid bare many truths about the journey of the former WWE superstar. Not one who became a great in wrestling through athletic gifts as much as through an incredible mind for the business, Punk’s athletic shortcomings were a true liability against a true athlete with legitimate skills in his mid-20s.
In the world of wrestling, the only common sense outcome for his second trip to the octagon would be an impressive and gutsy victory that proves a man’s best qualities can raise him up that little bit extra and bring him glory.
In the real world, however, a man’s shortcomings are not so easily overcome. Punk has clearly been training over the past nearly two years. Some improvement was evident in his game. Massive holes remained, though, including dangerously inefficient striking and any truly threatening ground game.
The real world is cruel and Mike Jackson’s not-at-all-urgent 15-minute drubbing of Punk was, in almost all ways, a more complete statement on Punk-as-martial-artist.
Punk’s heart — clearly as big as almost anyone on the UFC roster — is an asset in most endeavors, and certainly in the world of fiction would alone be enough. A rough start, a dramatic comeback and finish, celebrate with his beautiful wife as the credits roll.
Real life is not made to be so satisfying. And more often than not, we’re handed the ending our talents deserve.
- Speaking of Punk, Corey Graves sure tried to drag the guy after the fight was over. Twitter got surreal for a few hours there... and Graves has the secret rules of punk rock.
- Oh, and UFC President Dana White was not thrilled with the fight and says Punk is likely done in the promotion. Of course saying it “should be a wrap” isn’t exactly saying “it is a wrap.”
- Money in the Bank is coming and Sasha Banks is planning ... something crazy. Here are some extreme MitB moments to get your wheels spinning on what that could mean.
- And you don’t have to wait until Sunday to get some Roman vs. Jinder action. Tonight’s Raw will have you taken care of.
- Remember just a few days ago when Shawn Michaels got everyone excited about a possible one-off return? Yeah, might as well forget it.
- Don’t get too hung up thinking about Money in the Bank when there’s a NXT Takeover the night before.
- Enzo Amore is ... actually, nevermind, here’s video of the Golden Elite.
That’s it for now. Monday comin’ at you like