JC’s Top Rope Report #1 – “The Summer of Punk?” (Looking At the CM Punk/Money in the Bank Scenarios)

“JC’s Top Rope Report” is a new bi-weekly column that will be featured here on Creatively Endeavored. You can leave comments for Justin here, at his blog (there’s a link to it on the right hand side of the main page) or on Twitter @JCWonka. We’re very happy to have Justin on the Creatively Endeavored team. – Matt

For all of the wrestling Internet fans out there, we’ve known this was coming for months. C.M. Punk has reportedly been unhappy in the WWE for quite some time now. He doesn’t like the fact that he is not treated like the main event talent that he is. Punk is also burned out by all the time spent on the road. He has valid arguments. He has never been a constant main event talent. It seemed like Punk was getting a renewed push when he became the new leader of Nexus. They reignited their feud with John Cena and it looked like a possible C.M. Punk/John Cena one-on-one match was coming on PPV, quite possibly at Wrestlemania. But instead the WWE rushed through that feud and gave away the match for free on RAW. There was a lot of heat behind that match, and it would have been great to see Punk win the Royal Rumble, and Cena win the WWE Championship, and have the two face off at Wrestlemania. Or the spots could have been switched around. It would have been a great build in my opinion.

Instead, Punk was transitioned into a Wrestlemania feud with Randy Orton. The WWE played up a surprisingly good back story, dating back to Orton costing Punk the World Heavyweight Championship in 2008. However, Randy Orton looked dominant throughout the entire program. There was maybe one week where Punk got the better of Orton. Every week Orton took out a different member of the Nexus. Orton won their match at Wrestlemania, then won the re-match at Extreme Rules. Punk was stuck in limbo the next month and a half until he won last week’s triple threat match to become the #1 Contender for the WWE Championship. At Capitol Punishment and on RAW, Punk promised to make a shocking announcement. Well, he did. Punk said his contract expires on July 17, the same day as the Money in the Bank PPV. The PPV is in his hometown of Chicago. One way or another, Punk said he was leaving.

First off, I give the WWE props for trying something different. To take Punk’s contract situation and turn it into an actual storyline will make for some interesting TV in the next 3 weeks. Punk is a great enough performer that he can make it work. That’s part of his greatness. You could give him crap and turn it into gold. He would make a program with Ahmed Johnson or Bart Gunn main event worthy. Even if the WWE writes it in a terrible way, Punk could still make it work. It all adds up to how great a performer he is. If Money in the Bank is the last appearance for Punk in some time, you bet damn well I will be writing a tribute piece to him.

But now the question becomes this: What exactly are the possibilities with this storyline. There are actually a handful of possibilities out there. If the WWE is smart, they could turn this into the angle of the summer, perhaps even the angle of the year if they play it out right. Punk is that good, and even John Cena can be good if he brings his A game and doesn’t bust out his normal corny, unfunny routine. So, with all of this being said, lets look at the possible scenarios for this C.M. Punk storyline and how they could play out.

1. C.M. Punk Wins the WWE Championship & Sticks Around For A While
This scenario is quite possible. Even though Punk says he’s gone at Money in the Bank, his contract supposedly does not expire until September. So it is entirely possible that Vince talked Punk into sticking around until his contract actually expires. Punk gets a new main event push that he has been wanting for quite some time. He main events the second biggest PPV of the year, SummerSlam, and the Night of Champions PPV in September.

Now wait a minute. Punk said he’s leaving no matter what after MITB. So how would this work? Well, it’s wrestling, they can make it work. The RAW GM could say that Punk cannot leave with the WWE Championship. Punk could refuse, and then have Vince McMahon show up and say the exact same thing. Punk, being too proud of a competitor, decides not to leave and defend the WWE Title until he loses.

Another possibility could be something similar to his Ring of Honor end run, which was called by many the “Summer of Punk.” Punk was supposed to be wrestling his last show in the ROH Title match. He won the title, and threatened to take the Title to the WWE. Punk continued to wrestle for ROH until he lost the Title. Punk could do the same thing in the WWE. Some of his recent Twitter comments have been apparently similar to what he wrote in his online journal while leaving Ring of Honor.

Punk, however, loves to toy with fans. He may be doing this just to screw with them. Plus, I don’t know if Vince would want to do the same storyline that another company did. I don’t like the odds of this happening. It’s probably a bit too complicated for the WWE to do anyways, and they wouldn’t want Punk leaving on such a high note if he were to go to another company. I doubt that happens though.

2. C.M. Punk Wins the WWE Championship & Leaves with the Title
Another long shot possibility. But again, it’s something to consider. Punk wins the WWE Championship at Money in the Bank. His contract actually does expire. He leaves with the WWE Title. That’s it. The RAW GM announces that Punk is gone with the WWE Title, and that a new Title will be introduced and a tournament will be held, with the two finalists facing off at SummerSlam to crown the new WWE Champion. Then, when Punk comes back, the two face off, maybe at Wrestlemania, and fight to determine the undisputed WWE Champion. It’d be an interesting sub main event to a show already main evented by The Rock vs John Cena.

Or, the World Champion is now declared the only Champion in the WWE and appears on both shows from now on until Punk comes back. The main reason this won’t happen is because you know Vince McMahon won’t like. It takes the WWE Championship, the supposed most prized possession in wrestling, off of TV for who knows how long. While it would be something unique and different, it would also kind of devalue the Title a bit.

This is another long shot. Taking the WWE Title off of TV for any extended period of time would not be good in Vince McMahon’s eyes. Sure they might want to have only one Champion, but that title would be the WWE Championship, not the World Title.

3. C.M. Punk Wins the WWE Title, Then Loses It to the RAW Money in the Bank Winner
What a coincidence. Punk’s WWE Title chance comes at a PPV where two guaranteed Title contracts are given out. The story would write itself. Here is this evil C.M. Punk, about to take the WWE Championship away with him from the WWE. But before he can leave, here comes the RAW Money in the Bank winner to cash in his briefcase, and take the Title back.

In my opinion, however, it would have to be a heel cashing in the contract. While it would make a mega face most of the time if a babyface cashed in the contract, the PPV is being held in Chicago. Any face would be booed out of the building if they stole the WWE Championship from C.M. Punk in his hometown. A heel, however, would be booed out of the building. If the WWE still wants to go with John Cena vs Alberto del Rio at SummerSlam, having ADR win the RAW MITB Ladder Match then cash in his contract on Punk would bring him instant heel heat. ADR could explain how he didn’t want Punk to ruin his destiny and take the WWE Title out of the company with him. Cena then comes out and demands a rematch for the Title he lost, and you have your main event for SummerSlam.

Like I said, however, this has to be a heel doing this. As I already said, whoever does this will be booed out of Chicago. You don’t want a young face like Kofi Kingston getting that kind of reaction for his first WWE Title win. Sure it will only be for one night, but people won’t forget it. A heel should also win because right now, John Cena is the top face on RAW. Nobody is supplanting him right now. And, you don’t want to have a new face win, then immediately have them face John Cena. There’s also no other face on RAW ready to win the WWE Title right now. Rey Mysterio doesn’t need it. Alex Riley is too young. Kofi Kingston isn’t quite ready yet. The only people worthy of this type of situation right now would be either Alberto del Rio, or maybe R-Truth. I would say this has decent odds of happening. I might be the second most likely option, especially considering the PPV it is happening on.

4. John Cena Defeats C.M. Punk Cleanly
Sadly, this may be the most likely option. There are many reasons I believe this. First off, Vince McMahon hates the Internet. Most would consider C.M. Punk the “Darling of the Internet.” The hardcore adult male audience loves him. They love him because he is a great worker and excellent on the mic. Punk plays up the fact that they love him and always finds ways to gain their interest. Problem is, Vince hates that audience. He will do anything he can to piss them off. Look what he did by not putting Zac Ryder on any of the last 3 hour RAWs. One took place in his hometown, the other was a Viewer’s Choice addition. Vince does not cater to the Internet audience, and he won’t do something just to please them. Vince also fails to realize that the Internet audience makes up a decent portion of his viewing and PPV buyer market, but that’s another story all together.

Another reason this seems like the most likely scenario is because C.M. Punk’s opponent is John Cena. Cena is, after all, invincible. When was the last time he lost a clean PPV match. I mean after all, the new Nexus could get involved and cost Cena the match. But Cena single-handedly went through the old Nexus, so there’s no reason he couldn’t do the same to this Nexus. Also, John Cena is the WWE’s Golden Boy. He’s facing the Rock at Wrestlemania 28. He may very well hold on to the WWE Title until then. I personally don’t think the match needs it, but it would make it that much bigger. I really don’t think the WWE would want Cena to lose the Title to someone who is on their way out of the Company.

Like I said, I really think this may have the best odds of happening. If Punk hasn’t been treated as a true main eventer before, there is nothing that would change this now. Especially if Punk is leaving the WWE. Cena looks strong again because he sends someone out of the WWE. And usually, when someone is on their way out, they don’t win the WWE Title, even if they lose it immediately after. They usually end their WWE career staring up at the lights.

There is one more scenario that could be considered. Win or lose, Punk has re-signed with the WWE and will stay around for a long time. It could be possible Punk is just playing the Internet crowd that loves him. He could win the WWE Title and say that he played everyone all along, or he could lose and demand a rematch, and the RAW GM could say he would only grant it if Punk signs a new contract. The reason I don’t see this happening is because every indication we’ve been given says that Punk is leaving, whether now or when his contract officially expires.

All I know is this, having C.M. Punk off of TV for an extended period of time will be a huge blow. While he may not have always been the top dog, he was always entertaining. He’s easily the best WRESTLER the WWE currently has, probably the best guy on the mic too. He always has a creative way to get his point across. There’s nobody on the current roster that can replace him. I hope he comes back sooner rather than later. It’s a shame the WWE didn’t appreciate him more. But if Punk feels that way, and he really wants some time off, then I respect him for sticking to his guns and making this decision.

So After RAW, Now What? Thoughts on C.M. Punk’s Promo
So, after RAW Monday, it seems like a lot of my scenarios I threw out there seem too simple. That promo Punk gave on Monday threw a whole bottle of gasoline into the fire.
There is nobody else in this business that could pull of that worked shoot better than C.M. Punk. He’s just that good. He did the perfect job of playing up to every possible fan out there. The marks, who believe everything is real, thought that he was crossing the line and couldn’t believe Punk was actually saying this. The smart fans, the Internet fans who don’t know everything, thought that he was saying some stuff they knew, but was saying just a few things that might have crossed the line. Then the real smart fans, people like you and me who read the Internet religiously, knew everything he was saying was a work, but his delivery was just so spot on that you had to enjoy it.

Punk touched on just enough stuff that made you know it was a worked shoot. Mentioning Paul Heyman and Hulk Hogan’s names was nothing. There big enough names that it doesn’t affect anything badly. Even mentioning Ring of Honor and New Japan doesn’t mean anything. ROH isn’t even a blip on the WWE’s radar. They’re not a big enough company to worry Vince. Same with New Japan. They’re big in Japan, but nowhere near as big in the States. Now had Punk mentioned something about TNA, then there might be some cause for concern. There the #2 Company in North America. The same can be said for bringing up Brock Lesnar. Everyone knows what happened with Brock. Mentioning his name isn’t a killer blow.

As far as ripping on Vince McMahon, HHH, Stephanie McMahon, John Cena, and John Laurinitis, that was all planned as well. You knew they were all probably getting a good laugh out of it in the back. They got the Internet in a big hub-a-lub, talking about their product again. Punk is the Internet’s Golden Child. The Internet criticizes WWE constantly, but now their praising them for what Punk did. The mic cut off and subsequent quick cut off air was perfect. It would make some believe that the plug was actually pulled on the show because of Punk.

This opens up a whole new world of possibilities for C.M. Punk/John Cena at Money in the Bank. Everything I talked about in my last post seems so non-existent right now. Could Punk win the Title and stick around for a while. Maybe Punk brings in his Indie buddies like Colt Cobana and Tyler Black from FCW to help him win the WWE Title, then he actually defends it on Indie shows across the country. That would take a lot of balls for Vince to do. You’d have to worry someone might shoot on Punk and attempt to legit beat him for the Title, but I’m sure Punk has so much respect in the wrestling world that it wouldn’t happen. But we also have to remember that Vince probably wouldn’t put some Indie workers over like that. He wouldn’t want to make a non-WWE contracted wrestler look good. You could throw out the possibility of a Montreal Screjob finish, but now it would come off as too worked. I’ve read the spoilers for next week, but I won’t go into them here. I will get more into that for next week’s review.

In closing, this is something that has to be done at the right place at the right time, with the right person. Everything fit perfectly here. It had to be Punk, it had to be this moment, it had to be that night. This is something that can be done once every few years. It’s got EVERYBODY in the wrestling world talking. If the WWE handles this the right way, it could be the best angle they’ve done in years. That can’t drop the ball like they did with Nexus. There are endless possibilities here, and I for one cannot wait to see how it plays out. 
Until next time,
Justin C
Follow Me on Twitter @JCWonka