clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

MGP: Dear Wrestling Santa, this is what I’d like for Christmas

Good Monday everyone and welcome to this week’s Gorilla Position here on Cageside Seats.

I have many thoughts running through my head today but a few things are standing out amongst the rest. I’ve decided to shine a spotlight on all three of those issues today, if you’ll bear with me.

Tis the season for making lists, after all. And I have compiled a wish list for Wrestling Santa, whom I envision is just Mick Foley sitting in his personal Christmas room decked out in full Kris Kringle garb.

But hey, if anyone has the pull to get some stuff done in the wrestling world, I’d like to think it’s the hardcore legend himself.

Let’s get to it.

Dear Wrestling Santa,

For Christmas this year, I would really like:

FOR THE REAL CM PUNK TO PLEASE STAND UP

Wrestling fans across the world tuned in to Monday Night Raw this week to listen to what CM Punk had to say. Why did he make his stunning return to the very company he claimed almost killed him? How were he and Triple H able to reconcile their differences after all this time?

Hell, indeed, froze over. But how and why?

Last Monday night we waited. And we waited. And we waited... and after nearly three hours of programming, Punk finally had a live WWE microphone in his hand for the first time in a decade and the results (I’m sorry to say) were a little underwhelming.

For a great many reasons, I was not expecting any mention of AEW. Legal reasons aside, it is absolutely the right call for WWE to just pretend that the most recent stretch of Punk’s pro wrestling career never happened. Especially when you take into account everything that has happened over the past year specifically.

Even if Punk feels he has some sort of axe to grind against his former employer, WWE is firing on all cylinders right now. Why make those waves?

There’s absolutely no need to punch down, so to speak, on the competition when WWE - already the most profitable and highest rated pro wrestling company in the world - just signed the biggest name in free agency, who was only a free agent in the first place because Tony Khan felt forced to terminate his AEW contract.

CM Punk meantime, has landed in a great spot after an ugly divorce. Him grabbing a mic and immediately airing out his dirty laundry with All Elite Wrestling would be the equivalent of a newly single Dad landing a date with a supermodel and then spending the entire dinner talking about his ex-wife.

Not exactly a recipe for success.

Besides, if you want to know how Punk feels about his time in All Elite Wrestling, just go back and watch his All Out 2022 Press Conference.

It was not the lack of AEW acknowledgment in his return promo that I found to be disappointing, it was the lack of sincerity.

If there’s one thing CM Punk has always been, it’s honest. I feel your eyes rolling into the back of your head, so allow me to rephrase. At the very least, he will always say what he believes to be the truth and not hold back in doing so.

Standing in a WWE ring for the first time since walking out on the company in 2014, Punk proclaimed that he was “home.” That World Wrestling Entertainment is where he always belonged.

After his public tongue-lashing of the Elite last year, and the subsequent backstage altercation that allegedly followed, CM Punk would not been seen on AEW television for 10 months. He made his return on the debut episode of Collision where he passionately, and repeatedly, asked the Chicago crowd to, “Tell him when he’s telling lies.”

Mr. Punk, I’m here to tell you, this past Monday you were lying through your teeth.

Either that, or there’s more to this story that we didn’t get to hear because his main event promo segment ended up being shorter than originally planned. Randy Orton’s match with Dominik Mysterio reportedly ran a bit long, leaving Punk with eight minutes (entrance included) to say what he needed to say.

If he had simply said his love for the fans was too strong to keep him away from the squared circle, fine. No issues there, because that part I believe. But after years of bad blood, lawsuits, and public vitriol, suddenly CM Punk has realized WWE is where he always belonged?

That statement I find to be incredibly disingenuous. And it’s a line that seems incredibly scripted.

CM Punk has always been the alternative. He’s always been the anti-WWE guy, even when he was the most popular man in WWE.

The most honest thing to come from Punk’s mouth this past Monday was what he said after he put the microphone down. He looked right into the camera and said, “I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to make money.”

Now THAT I believe.

CM Punk does not need to come across as an unabashed WWE homer to be successful. Quite the opposite, actually.

Had Punk said something along the lines of:

- It’s no secret that I’ve never loved this place.

- I’ve said some nasty things over the years.

- But I’ve changed and the direction of this company has changed.

- Triple H and I have never seen eye to eye, but for the sake of making money and giving the fans a damn good show, we’ve decided to give this marriage another shot.

- I’m here because the fans want me here.

- I’m here because it’s time the Best in the World proved he’s still the Best in the World at the highest level.

- I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to make money and win Championships. And I’m here to do the one thing in my career that I’ve never been able to cross off my bucket list.

- I’m here to main event WrestleMania.

That’s a promo that sounds more from the heart. That’s a promo that sounds more like CM Punk. That’s a promo I think more fans would have gotten behind.

Then again, who the hell am I to tell CM Punk what sounds genuine to him? Maybe he really does believe what he said on Monday. To his credit, Punk did proclaim himself to be a changed man.

Sooner rather than later, Punk is going to start his first real feud and there’s no doubt in my mind it’s going to be really good. Especially if it’s with Seth ‘Freaking’ Rollins.

The promo exchanges between those two men are going to leave the comments that Punk made last week in obscurity. For most people anyway.

But since it’s cannon now and CM Punk is “home”. I would like to hear more on how he got from point A to point B. Whether it’s tonight on Raw or this Friday night on SmackDown, because as they stand now, some things just don’t add up.

FOR BAYLEY TO HAVE HER LION KING MOMENT BEFORE THE NEW YEAR

I’m begging you WWE. Can a giant head just pop up on the jumbotron this Friday night on SmackDown and tell Bayley to remember who the hell she is and what she’s accomplished?

There’s no doubt in my mind that the Damage CTRL divorce is for real this time. After months of tension between IYO SKY and Bayley earlier this year, it seemed as though the two Superstars had worked out their differences following IYO’s successful cash-in of the Money and the Bank briefcase at SummerSlam.

That WWE Women’s Championship belt was the baby that was supposed to save this marriage. But to paraphrase an old Chris Rock stand-up bit, a partner is only as faithful as their options.

Now that SKY is flanked by Asuka and Kairi Sane, in addition to Dakota Kai, all of a sudden Bayley has found herself on extremely uneasy footing within the group that she founded. This despite everything the Role Model has done for Damage CTRL, especially IYO.

Don’t anyone forget, Bayley was the one who hauled it over 100 yards down the ramp at Ford Field to take out everyone at ringside and cleared the way for SKY to pin Bianca Belair and win that Women’s Championship in the first place. She has since provided the key distraction to allow the Genius of the Sky to retain her title on multiple occasions.

The finish of the Women’s War Games Match at Survivor Series saw Bayley save each of her teammates from taking the decisive pinfall, all within the span of 45 seconds. Her reward was a 4-on-1 beat down, a top rope Man-Handle Slam through a table and the ire of her teammates who all blame her for the loss.

Being weary of Bayley’s leadership skills one thing, but IYO SKY was downright disrespectful on SmackDown Friday when she essentially banished the first ever Women’s Grand Slam Champion from ringside during Kairi Sane’s match with Bianca Belair.

A true master of her craft, Bayley has been showcasing her feelings on the new direction of Damage CTRL with her tremendous facial expressions. It’s clear her confidence is at a low point and she’s scared to death of losing the trust and friendship of her stablemates.

Some fans may be counting the days until IYO SKY executes her own version of Order 66 and has her girls take out their former leader, but my suspicions are that it’s Bayley who will grow exhausted of Damage CTRL’s antics and strike first. Maybe by costing IYO the Women’s Championship whenever she defends her gold against Bianca Belair, who is two wins away from another opportunity.

Regardless of how it’s done, the fracturing of Damage CTRL will mark mission accomplished for this stable. IYO SKY and Dakota Kai have been elevated to mainstays and leaders on the main roster and now Bayley, who is still in her prime, can begin her redemption arc that hopefully leads to the white hot babyface run that has somehow eluded her Hall of Fame career.

That fracture though, needs to happen extremely soon. The entire SmackDown Women’s Division that gets regular TV time is tied up in this Damage CTRL story arc and until whatever happens with Bayley, happens, they are all seemingly stuck in this never ending vortex of ringside brawls.

A WarGames Match should be the end of a feud, especially one that’s been going on since SummerSlam of 2022. Instead the first declaration from Bianca Belair on Friday was that her battle with Damage CTRL was not over, and things picked right back up where they left off in Chicago with the same eight woman all fighting with one another.

Bayley and IYO’s falling out is the one big domino that desperately needs to come crashing down for the rest of the roster to move forward. That domino is teetering. I just really hope it’s not still wobbling back-and-forth come WrestleMania season.

FOR MORE TONI STORM ON MY TELEVISION SCREEN

I know there’s a multitude of pro wrestling fans out there who do not watch AEW. If you are among them, you should consider tuning in on some Wednesday or Saturday nights because you’re missing out on the best thing going on television right now.

Notice I said television, and not pro wrestling. That was not by mistake.

Toni Storm has fully committed to her adaptation of a distraught Hollywood starlet straight out of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Complete with her own film noir style of storytelling that follows her and her associates wherever they go.

The 28 year-old is putting on a series of performances well beyond her years. Timeless Toni Storm is the character she was simply born to play and she’s found a way to continue her, midlife crisis as Skye Blue referred to it on Collision, even after regaining the AEW Women’s Championship.

Winning back the Title she lost, which was the catalyst for her mental breakdown, should have been enough to bring her back to our form of reality, but it’s proven to only further elevate her psychosis.

Thankfully.

Toni’s over the top demeanor and outlandish dialogue has made her a smash hit and a character that seemed destined for a short shelf life is now flourishing.

RJ City and Renee Paquette’s rapport and on-screen chemistry with Storm has generated comedy gold over these last several weeks and has played an integral role in the character’s success.

And where there’s success, growth will follow. The introduction of Luther, or now Lutha, as Toni’s butler was just the first step. Now Stardom alum Mariah May has debuted as her number one admirer.

Timeless Toni Storm seems to be building her own cinematic universe and with any luck, that will soon lead to an aggressive expansion of television time. I’m talking some MJF level television time.

Would that be too much of a good thing? I’m not sure, but I’m willing to find out. All I can say for certainty, is I’m not getting enough Timeless Toni throughout the week as things stand now.

You can follow Rick Ucchino on Twitter and stay tuned for more in depth interviews with WWE and AEW talent here on Cageside Seats.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats