I have to be honest with everyone out there: I was ready to phone it in this week. In all honesty, it has been extremely difficult to be inspired by wrestling during the past month. CM Punk was out due to injury, and everything just seemed so insignificant. Sure, there were bright spots - The Shield’s ring debut at TLC being the obvious one - but mostly the month just sucked. That’s the technical term - suck. Hell, I found it difficult to even watch Raw during the holidays. Who has two thumbs and hates holiday shows? This guy!
Which makes my planned article for this week so ironic. The title was: 5 New Years Resolutions WWE Should Try. Yikes. While I hate the WWE for phoning it in with holiday shows, I was basically utilizing the same gimmick. I had to milk the New Year for one more week, right? Plus, lists are always easy to write. Don’t ask me why, they just are. Truthfully, it can be difficult coming up with new articles every week. When wrestling is good (which it usually is post-Rumble), it’s easy because there’s so many significant things happening. But the wrestling is bad... writing weekly can be tough. Props to John, who has been writing so consistently for so many years.
Luckily, I’m not one to simply stop writing when the topic-well runs a bit dry. I like the sound of my own voice, so you’re likely not going to see me go anywhere soon. Yet, sometimes I need a bit of inspiration to write something truly worthwhile. I think I’ve written some gems, and those articles usually came after something affected me emotionally, be it in wrestling or life. I wrote an article on the dangers of head injuries after Junior Seau, a local hero, committed suicide. I wrote that the term “IWC” needed to die after being criticized for having “typical” online fan opinions. And I’ve written dozens of articles about CM Punk after his 2011 emergence. Because it’s not like anyone else was writing about him, am I right??
Okay, so maybe much of my writing has been pedestrian. I’m only trying to prove that the best we at TJR write comes after something major or inspiring, many times both. Luckily, I’ve found a bit of inspiration this week in the writing of my fellow TJR writer Jacob Lindsey. If you haven’t read his article yet (chances are you have), go and read it now. RIGHT... NOW! In The Rock is Bad and He Should Feel Bad, Jacob is short and to the point, making a case against The Rock. I agree with some of it (homophobic promos are never cool), but not all of it (there’s room for grey in good-guy characters). But it’s his opinion, and it’s a controversial one. Good for him to have the balls to put his opinion out there.
Jacob’s piece made me want to write something not at all gimmicky. I’m more interested in writing about topics that can get a discussion going among this little community JC has built. Back in the .net days, it wasn’t unusual to have fifty plus comments follow a well written article. I’d love to see that interaction here a TJRwrestling.com in 2013. I’m not saying anyone should go out of their way to be controversial or outside the box, but why play it safe?
So here’s what’s going to follow: My thoughts on the beginnings of the first major feud of 2013: The Rock vs CM Punk, as seen on last night’s (1/7/13) Raw. Next week’s Sharpshooter will be a bit better focused, without the overly long intro, but something similar to critical analysis of current wrestling.
Personally, I enjoy The Rock. He’s entertaining and has the ability to stir up a crowd like almost no other performer before or after him. In the ring, he’s adequate. But I’ll admit, although I hung on every word of his when he returned a couple years back, I quickly found his promos to be dull rehashes of the same old shtick, and would often fast forward through them (I’m a west-coaster, we DVR Raw when it airs at 5, or back then, 6 PM). It’s not that The Rock has lost something, it’s that we may have expected more from him. Fans look back at bygone eras with rose-tinted glasses. Sure The Rock was great, but not all the time.
But one thing I never felt toward The Rock in 2012 was resentment. A common criticism of The Rock has been his push despite his lack of work. I say, who cares? The Rock earned his place at the top of professional wrestling a long time ago. He left a mega star, and returned a super-duper-mega star. The WWE would be absolutely foolish to put him anywhere but the top of the card.
In other words, I don’t mind that The Rock has been magically granted a title-shot at Royal Rumble. In fact, I can’t wait to see it. Unlike with John Cena before, The Rock has the perfect opponent in CM Punk - a legendary heel if there ever was one. The only missed opportunity here is that the WWE hasn’t been promoting this match for a year like they did for The Rock’s Wrestlemania 28 match. Different circumstances, I understand, but it would’ve still been nice to see him interact more with CM Punk over the last few months.
Spoiler alert! CM Punk defeated Ryback at Raw last night, securing his spot as The Rock’s opponent for the Royal Rumble. Now that it’s official, it’s time to analyze every inch of this feud as it rolls forward. If last night was any indication, Rock vs Punk has the potential to be epic.
Punk’s performance surpassed anything he did in 2012. His expressions throughout his tables, ladders, and chairs match with Ryback were priceless. And on the mic, he achieved something I didn’t know possible - getting 90% of the crowd to absolutely hate him. No matter what, there are going to be hardcore, older fans who love CM Punk. But it was his job to diminish the size of that crowd as largely as possible. His rant, which segmented into the Rock’s appearance, successfully drew a line in the dirt: you, the fans, are on one side, and he, CM Punk, is on the other. There’s no room to join him, and he doesn’t want you to think you’ve had any part in his success. It was exactly the right promo for this feud. The WWE needs you not to mull over to cheer for, but rather to pay to see CM Punk get his ass kicked.
CM Punk did his job, and The Rock somewhat sorta did his. The Rock showed up, threw down his typically excellent promo, and laid the smackdown on Punk. People loved seeing it. There was only one issue with The Rock’s performance last night - it was typical. Just minutes before, CM Punk had torn to pieces the idea that babyfaces say anything truthful to fans. Appreciating fans, catch-phrases, and city shout outs were all said to be disingenuous at best. And then, of course, Rock went through all of his standby promo material - all of which fed into what Punk just said. It just made The Rock look a bit amateur.
And then it happened - CM Punk delivered the line of the night, the line of the new year. To prove he wasn’t afraid of The Rock, and different from past opponents, Punk told Rock that he would kick Rock’s ass whenever he made an appearance, and that ultimately The Rock couldn’t win against Punk, because “your arms are too short to box with God.” It was a powerful line, one that negated anything silly The Rock had spouted earlier. How did The Rock respond? By telling Punk to get candy tattooed to his butt. More silliness. It just didn’t feel like The Rock was on the same level with Punk.
Of course, this could be a good problem. Punk is clearly at the top of his game, and that could bring out the best in The Rock. Let’s certainly hope so. There’s also enough time for this to play out, especially if The Rock is involved at The Elimination Chamber, which looks to be the case. Because while The Rock vs Cena was fun, I have a feeling it would pale in comparison to The Rock vs. CM Punk. All they need is time.
Thoughts and opinions? Share them with me!