Monday night on RAW, we got an answer to the CM Punk question; and as many expected, it was part of a storyline. Vince McMahon came to the ring, and said that he had suspended CM Punk because Punk was “undeserving” of the royalties (Punk’s face on collector cups and programs) he’d mentioned the week before, and was simply, “a punk.” He said that he wanted to do what was best for the company and the WWE fans.
McMahon then prepared to leave, until John Cena came to the ring. Cena argued that Punk had “spoken his mind”, something Vince McMahon has done for years. Cena reminded McMahon of how he had once came to the ring “each and every week” and told everyone that was against him to “bring it on.” But Cena noted that those times seemed to have passed Vince by; he didn’t want to fight anymore, but Cena did. And that if that was the case, Cena said, then maybe “you should hang it up, old man.”
Don’t Be Hogan
McMahon argued that he didn’t want to “take a chance” on Cena; he didn’t want to risk losing the WWE Championship to someone leaving the company, since he’d “been there before”, referencing the Montreal Screwjob. McMahon refused to “be embarrassed” by CM Punk leaving with the title. Cena countered that he and the fans wanted the fight, which could be “the match of the year,” but was being denied because Punk “said something you didn’t want to hear” and that McMahon was scared of “being embarrassed.”
McMahon said that Cena didn’t want to “be Hogan” and that he shouldn’t “piss him off.” McMahon said that this was “his company” and that there had been others before Cena and would be others after. Cena’s response was that while he was “replaceable,” McMahon was denying the match because he was afraid that Punk, who had “earned the right to compete,” would take the WWE Championship and make it meaningless. He finished by saying that if that was the case, “you’ve already made it meaningless.”
And with that, Cena gave McMahon the WWE Championship and walked away.
McMahon angrily caught up to Cena and said that Punk was reinstated for his match at Money in the Bank. But a new stipulation was added- if Cena lost, he would be fired.
Real Life Drama
I said in my last article I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a storyline, and I’m not. But what does surprise me is how WWE has handled the situation. Regardless of his scripted outburst, Punk is leaving the company after Money in the Bank. And WWE has managed to do something they haven’t done in a long time: take a real-life situation and successfully spin it into a big angle. Money in the Bank has gone from being just another pay-per-view to being a major topic for wrestling fans; some have already said this might be bigger than Summerslam. And while the event has yet to live up to the hype, people will likely be talking about it, good or bad, for a long time.
However, this angle has already poked holes into the WWE’s methods, and this recent twist did more damage. McMahon may have walked down to the ring in his trademark style, but his promo did little more then reinforce his stance as a man disconnected from his product. His explanation of the suspension felt like a businessman talking to stockholders, than the angry, self-righteous, controlling owner he once portrayed. And his fear of embarrassment further hints at his unhappiness at only being a “wrestling millionaire.” This also made McMahon’s supposed embarrassment seem unlikely, as he runs a company with two heavyweight championships. His description of CM Punk, and his declaration of him as “undeserving” just add more the fuel to the long burning fire of McMahon hating anyone whom he does not create within the WWE. And his final words, that he didn’t care what the fans want, sum up what many fans have felt about the Chairman.
Cena Finally Does It Right
However, while McMahon did further damage to himself, John Cena actually managed to add some grit to his oft-critiqued character. A friend once said to me to understand Cena, one needs to look at John Cena, the Wrestler and John Cena, the Man, to really understand him. Is Cena the Wrestler over-exposed, speaking poorly written promos that appeal to children, and lacking in wrestling ability? Many, (including myself) would say yes. But Cena the Man is different. Cena the Man is someone that has worked to promote a business that he loves. Cena the Man has gone out of his way to make children happy, and to energize the crowd regardless of their stance on him. And while many look to him as the Hulk Hogan of the modern era, there is one critical attribute that separates Cena from Hogan- despite his success, he recognizes the abilities of the wrestlers under him, and wants to meet the challenges they present him with. Cena knows his limits and that he can only be as good as the talent he fights. While he may be happy to say and do the things that WWE tells him, he has supported young wrestlers like Evan Bourne, and put out tweets to support Bryan Danielson during his WWE firing.
What It All Means
Last night was when Cena the Man was given center stage. And instead of toilet humor and worn-out catchphrases, we got to hear words that, while they may have been scripted, were believable only because of Cena’s real passion. The fans, whom are usually divided on Cena, were behind him full force that night. It was something that I hadn’t witnessed since Cena’s early days as a main eventer. It was something we should be able to see more of- fans of all ages being able to get behind the man WWE sees as its champion for wanting to fight for them and not obey his unknowing boss.
Indeed the moment of the night may have been when Cena handed in his WWE Championship, giving the image of a man that loves wrestling more then his own success. And as he left, we saw Vince McMahon, a shocked, angry, old man who struggled to hold on to his company’s Championship.
Maybe it is time to hang it up, old man.