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CM Punk’s first regular appearance on WWE Backstage was... alright

After a last minute walk-on debut, and a subsequent appearance that was largely focused on him, CM Punk settled into his regular role on WWE Backstage last night (Tues., Dec. 10).

Punk sat in a director’s chair with host Renee Young and regular panelists Booker T & Paige to break down the world of sports entertainment, or “rasslin” as he likes to call it. Punk was still quite critical of his frequent verbal/Twitter sparring partner Seth Rollins. He says he’s going to wait and see on Rollins’ alliance with AOP, as we’ve seen two different versions of Seth with back-up in his WWE career. Punk also declared that Rollins isn’t “good at being a good guy”, and predicted fans would cheer him now that he’s turned.

Before King Corbin joined the show, his segment from last Friday’s SmackDown was discussed. Punk liked the dog food bit with Roman Reigns - bad guys should do bad things - but he wants more attention paid to details like “why was the dog food under the ring?”

At least it was real dog food, as Corbin confirmed:

The review of the AJ Styles/Finn Bálor from TLC 2017 which Punk was prepping for on Twitter was mostly a pre-taped interview between Renee & Finn, but did lead to a discussion afterwards where we got our first AJ Lee/Mendez talk of the evening. Styles was a late replacement for Bray Wyatt in that one, and the panel talked about handling last minute changes. Paige told a story about how much AJ calmed her down before her her main roster debut, and Punk said his wife does that for him all the time.

After some NFL on Fox cross-promotion, they do some fantasy booking of current angles in a segment called “Pay It Off”. Paige wants Miz’s dad to show up for his match with Wyatt, so Punk chimed in to say he wants IRS (Bray’s father, Mike Rotunda, who played heel accountant Irwin R. Schyster in the 90s) there, too. He’s also got plans to run the Bobby Lashley/Lana/Rusev angle through WrestleMania 36 and beyond (after this clip, he said “I don’t know if they’re still doing shows in Saudi Arabia, but I have ideas for Lana in Saudi as well”):

The WWE Slammy Awards category on a recent episode of Jeopardy! is the segue to a trivia contest. Here we learn that Punk was “an NWA guy” in his youth (he answered Slaughter for “Who beat Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI?”, claiming it was because he was watching Starrcade instead), and that no one respects Bob Backlund (no one on the panel correctly answered “Which former WWE world champ once held the title for 2,138 days, then shocked the world in 1994 when he won the title at age 45?”). But we did get our second AJ Lee/Mendez name drop of the night courtesy of this bit of schmoopiness:

Last but not least, Punk says the WWE Hall of Fame will be illegitimate until every member of the nWo is inducted. Corbin jokes that would be 40 people, but Punk fires back “more like 120”.

Punk’s long been the smart-alec voice of the “smart” fan, and as such he’s perfect for this role. He meshes well with the rest of the hosts, although he and Booker could stand to not talk at the same time as much as they do.

In the end though, it’s still a WWE-approved studio show. It’s fun enough. I laughed at times. There were a few insights I hadn’t considered previously. But I still don’t think it’s appointment television.

Maybe I expected too much. Somewhere in my head I thought Punk’s presence would turn WWE Backstage into something more than what it is. I’ll watch it when I can, and check out clips when I can’t. Perhaps with time he and it will grow into the new, exciting thing I hoped it might be from the jump.

For now, I’m glad he’s back and doesn’t seem to hate the thing that made me love him anymore.

Oh, and more AJ (Lee, not Styles).

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