WWE's Best Character of 2011By Matty J. DouglasHello loyal readers. I feel like I haven’t written anything for you since last year. Bad jokes aside, I know you’ve all been anxiously waiting to see who I thought was the WWE’s Best Character of 2011. The man that I chose had the most compelling narrative and character arc in the WWE bar none during the year 2011, and had the entire wrestling community buzzing throughout the year. You’ve waited a week to see who claimed the number one spot, and you’ll need to wait just a little longer while I make some honorable mentions.<!--more-->Christian
Christian had a fantastic year in the WWE, finally capturing the World Heavyweight Championship with an assist from a recently retired Edge at Extreme Rules. I remember watching that PPV and being excited for my hometown boy finally getting the accolades he deserved. Of course he went on to lose the title later that week which was a little annoying, but it gave us a solid feud between Christian and Orton over the Title, during which Christian turned heel and took advantage of Randy Orton’s temper (or complete and utter stupidity) to win back the gold. Unfortunately a lopsided feud with Orton and then Sheamus failed to give the character that intriguing a 2011 thus his absence from the list. If this was a top ten list he would have made the cut, but I thought he deserved a mention.Sheamus
Sheamus at least for me pulled off something I had believed impossible, but he sold me on him as a babyface. I had thought he could only pull off being a evil character but I was wrong, as his transition from heel to babyface really worked. Unfortunately he hasn’t done much of note since becoming a fan favorite. Despite lack of a story for his character to really sink his teeth into, I think he’s been pretty entertaining in 2011, and made a seamless transition from villain to hero, so he definitely deserves an honorable mention.Mark Henry
No one changed people’s perception of him in 2011 like Mark Henry did. He went from an afterthought to a stone cold killer in the WWE. I talked about it in a piece I wrote earlier this year (http://www.thejohnreport.net/2011/09/19/lets-get-real-by-matty-j-douglas/ ). From his emotional WWE.com interview after he was drafted to Smackdown, to my uttering of my favorite line of the year (My Heart Don’t Pump on Kool-Aid!), Mark Henry was finally unleashed and allowed to show off some real personality. His run with the title was very good and well deserved. Hell he even managed to have some entertaining matches with The Big Show. Even now that he’s injured, he’s still showing off the personality that the WWE held down for so many years (did I say that?). The only reason he’s not on the list is because I believe the people who made it were involved in higher stakes, more exciting stories throughout 2011. Despite gaining a newfound respect, Mark’s year mainly consisted of putting people in the hospital, and getting the chance to cut “real” promos. I loved Mark Henry in 2011. It was by far the best year of his career, and he more than deserves to be recognized for it.Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’m sure it’s become painfully obvious who number one is. Without any further stalling on my part, let’s dive into the year WWE’s Best Character of 2011 had.1. CM Punk
I know, it seems like everyone is putting CM Punk atop their best of WWE 2011 Lists, and as much as I like to be different, I couldn’t argue with the year that the CM Punk character had in the WWE. Like he has on so many other lists that have been posted as 2011 came to a close, CM Punk occupies the top spot on my list as the WWE’s Best Character of 2011. Not only did he shake up the WWE this summer, he had fans riveted and on the edge of their seats waiting for the next development in the Summer of Punk storyline on a weekly basis. Everything he touched was compelling and entertaining in its execution, and the evolution of his character during arguably the biggest angle of 2011 was a delight to watch.CM Punk started 2011 off as the leader of the New Nexus, and was shining as the heel cult leader role he portrays almost too well. He feuded with John Cena, who he claimed was a hypocrite (rightly so) and then transitioned into a feud with Randy Orton over Randy punting him in the head and costing him the World Heavyweight Championship in 2008. Though Punk would lose these feuds, the stories they told were some of the most competent that WWE Creative had to offer all year. After feuding with the WWE’s two top babyfaces, and putting each over, the internet started buzzing with speculation of Punk leaving the WWE in the near future, as his contract was set to expire fairly soon. That is when the magic started.The Summer of Punk
This is the main reason that Punk was the best character of 2011. Punk would bring his real life contract situation to television, and with it a summer the WWE Universe wouldn’t soon forget. After becoming the number one contender for the WWE Championship, he announced that at the Money in the Bank Pay-Per-View, his contract was set to expire, and that he intended to win the WWE title and walk out of the WWE with their most coveted prize. With his intentions clearly stated and understood, he set in motion the best narrative the WWE has had all year.In any screenwriting class or instructional book, it is preached that the most important elements of a story/narrative are a relatable character with a clear immediate goal, and high stakes to build tension. Punk effectively brought both to the Summer of Punk. We understood what his character wanted to do and most importantly why he wanted to do it. We knew what incidents incited his current state of mind, and we saw the roadblocks he had to overcome to eventually achieve what he set out to achieve. Most importantly, the average man could easily identify with his gripes. Who hasn’t felt under-appreciated, taken advantage of and disrespected by an employer at some point? As a fan, you got to live vicariously through Punk as he stuck it to the company that he felt so scorned by.As far as the stakes, it’s been a long time since they were so high in the WWE, for everyone involved. Cena, the champion, couldn’t lose and have CM Punk walk out of the WWE with the title. If he did, he’d forever be the goat who lost the WWE’s greatest prize when it mattered most. Vince McMahon had everything riding on this match at Money in the Bank. Backed into a corner he needed to do everything he could to save the WWE Title and his company. Finally CM Punk had one shot to complete the goal he set out for himself. He only had one chance to get his revenge/comeuppance on Vince McMahon and the entire WWE. The stakes have rarely gotten higher than that in the WWE, which is what made the Climax of the Story, the Money in the Bank PPV one of the most intense WWE PPVs I’ve ever watched. It was due mostly to the narrative that, WWE’s Best Character of 2011 CM Punk’s set in motion in June, where he aired out his dirty laundry, made his intentions crystal clear, and finally backed it all up and won the title at Money in the Bank.Now I’m not going to say that it was perfect, because there were definitely snags in the story. In my opinion I think when Punk walked out with the WWE Title, he should have stayed gone for a much longer period of time. Use the Internet and other New Media to inform your audience of what the unemployed WWE Champion is doing now that he has been liberated from the WWE. Have new COO Triple H have a longer courtship of Punk, trying to bring him back. The high point of the Angle and Narrative was at the Money in the Bank PPV, and though it had the potential to, it never did again reach the height of the tension or excitement felt during Money in the Bank and it’s build up.That being said, it was still fun, watching CM Punk transform from an anarchist who only wanted to see the WWE burn, to a Hero that felt that there was something worth saving in the WWE and thus directed his ire at the specific individuals he perceived responsible for the sorry state of the WWE today. He basically transformed from being Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins to being Bruce Wayne. From the Summer of Punk, CM Punk transitioned into a solid feud against Triple H, where their history with one another came to a head, and eventually finished the year strong by recapturing the WWE Championship from Alberto Del Rio, the man who cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase on a vulnerable Punk at Summerslam, after he had become the undisputed WWE Champion.As 2011 came to a close, there was not much doubt who captivated me as a viewer, with a character so relatable and a story so intriguing and tense. I couldn’t deny how special it was to witness the transformational arc CM Punk traveled in 2011, which catapulted him to the top of the WWE. There is no doubt in my mind that he deserves to hold this spot atop my list of WWE’s Best Characters of 2011.There you have it folks but what do you think? Do you agree or disagree with my choice for number one? Can you remember a time where the stakes have been higher in a WWE feud, than they were at Money in the Bank? How would you rank WWE’s Characters in 2011?I’ll be back next week with another Matter of Character on a promising FCW wrestler that I believe could bring a lot to the WWE’s Main Roster. Until then I’m Matty J. Douglas saying Happy New Year Everybody!