Wednesday, August 3, 2011

WWE Looks Like It May Return to Edgier Days...

I don't indulge the wrestling fan in me too much on my blog, but that is going to change...for today at least. The WWE is looking like it might be in the middle of another renaissance. The company's hottest star is an anti-establishment lightning rod, promising to be a "voice for the voiceless." He is antagonizing the power structure and promising to continue to do so.

It's been a few years since the big stars in the WWE, then known as the WWF, were anti-heroes. That era was known as the Attitude Era and featured some edgy story-lines and was much more provocative. And to be honest I didn't even realize I missed those days until Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock started showing up at WWE events and being their usual badass selves.

CM Punk and the current story line at the top of the Federation looks and feels a lot like the second coming as it were of the Attitude Era. Fans aren't quite sure how to handle Punk, he draws a fair amount of cheers but he is also getting some boos. Meanwhile his opponent for this feud is a guy who draws his own share of mixed reviews in John Cena, loved by the women and children, nearly universally despised by the men.

I could be wrong but I think the creative team at the WWE sees the right way to take this angle. Cena, the monster face, has to become a heel. He and Punk have to switch roles with Punk becoming the face of this new Attitude Era. This needs to happen for several reasons:

  1. Cena's character is stale. Hustle, Loyalty and Respect are great, but the line is tired and he really needs a new direction. Besides as a heel he would be amazing. 
  2. Cena with the title is boring, this is coming from someone who is a Cena fan mind you, we need to see some new blood at the top. Whether it's Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, Punk, Alex Riley, R-Truth, or John Morrison, Cena needs to drop the strap and go other directions with his character. 
  3. Fans of a certain age, read my generation, remember the Attitude Era and want to see a return to those adult themes, not as outlandish perhaps as they got at the end, but let's return to some more grown up content. If for no other reason than so we never see a wrestler cut a promo saying "baloney, fudge and mustard." 
  4. Having the Rock waiting in the wings for Wrestlemania next year just makes those of us who are old enough want to see a return to the things that made his era stand out. 
 All that said I think Punk is the perfect guy to hold the title for now. His constant criticism of the powers that be in the WWE is entertaining and does in fact give a voice to those of us who watch the neutered WWE and wonder when or if it will ever throw itself wholeheartedly back into the things that helped push the wrestling boom of the 1990's and early 2000's.

Maybe the WWE can't get all the way back to that because they have no real competition any more. During that last boom period we had the Monday Night Wars, we had the WCW as a real counterweight to WWE. For a couple of years anyway, until their poor booking and management led to their downfall.

But this storyline has had a little of everything, from palace intrigue (Mr. McMahon being replaced by his son-in-law (Triple H) after a vote of no-confidence), threats of termination, attempts at stealing a victory, worked shoots. What's not to like. Although I am not sure how much I like Triple H being in charge, watching Monday's Raw he no sold Punk's promo, it makes me wonder if WWE has the stones to do it the right way. Vince would have at least reacted to Punk's word's, Hunter's ego may just be the thing that kills this storyline. I almost wish that Linda McMahon had been the one put in charge. I think it could have been better that way, all these big, musclebound jerks at the direction of a woman.

I think they could have put Mrs. McMahon in charge and had Hunter upset it wasn't him and then had him and Cena team up turn heel and steal things from Punk and Linda.

Either way here's hoping that the creative team at WWE doesn't fail us this time. I imagine Cena who has been a huge face for a long time doesn't necessarily want the heel turn. But they need to convince the fan in him that it's the right thing to do for the company.

Think about that for a minute Cena, the company man heel, it could be awesome if done right. Especially if they push the whole Punk thing toward a labor/management angle. Punk could be like leading the workers against the management (i.e. Cena, HHH, Mr. McMahon, Laurinitis).

All I know is I can't wait to see how this thing ultimately pays off. I hope it pays off in a way that moves the story forward and perhaps returns WWE to having a little edge to their product.

No comments: