Written by: Chris Kessler
CM Punk, the most unpredictable superstar in the WWE today, allegedly walked out on Monday. Punk has been pulled from all upcoming shows, and his contract ends in July. Numerous reports say Punk is burnt out and frustrated with the direction of the company. Punk has been extremely vocal throughout his career, especially against part-timers getting the top spot, so it is possible that Batista’s victory at the Royal Rumble might have been the final straw for Punk.
Now before I get into this too much, it should be stated that Punk worked this same type angle on us back in the summer of 2011 when Punk “left” with the WWE Championship, only to return shortly. Still, with WWE and Punk you never know, so if this is a work, then this is obviously leading to something – something big, too. But for now I’ll only speculate on how this affects things going forward.
It was looking like Punk was headed towards a Wrestlemania match against Triple H, but with Punk gone, HHH might be heading to a match with Daniel Bryan, after the opening segment on Raw this Monday. It also leaves a major gap in WWE’s main-event scene, but also leaves major opportunities for other wrestlers to elevate themselves. I can’t see Punk being gone forever, as in the long term, there will be too much of a demand for Punk. In fact, this might be a genius pre-emptive strike by Punk to position himself for a spot in the main-event at next year’s Wrestlemania.
But enough of the real-world backstage word of WWE, and let’s dive into the kayfabe that is WWE.
The Royal Rumble was last Sunday, and that marks the start of the road to Wrestlemania and is usually met with optimism. However, that clearly wasn’t the case when the show was over, and the returning (and rapidly aging) Batista was left standing as the winner of the Royal Rumble match – securing a spot in the main event of Wrestlemania XXX and #1 contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
The fans of Pittsburgh were pissed, and let their feelings known after all 30 men entered the match, and mega-popular, fan-favorite Daniel Bryan was nowhere to be seen or heard from. A chorus of angry boos filled the arena quickly, and progressively got worse. Once CM Punk, another extremely popular fan-favorite, was eliminated, the fans lost all hope and or interest, and the boo birds got even louder.
It wasn’t just the fans at the arena who were vocally upset; the entire “IWC”, Internet Wrestling Community, continued the negative reaction. I myself felt disappointed in the result of the match. A nearly 50-year-old, babyface Batista? Eh, not exactly exciting.
It seemed like the entire “WWE Universe” was about to revolt against the “machine”, aka in kayfabe: the Authority, aka in real-life: Vince, HHH and Stephanie. But Raw’s opening segment proved that WWE really knows how to push their viewer’s buttons, rather than being willfully stubborn. Maybe it’s both? Either way, it’s evident that Daniel Bryan will never just go away like many were complaining about; he isn’t being buried or jobbed out. However, WWE fans still doubt that Vince and company will ever truly pull the trigger on Bryan, and understandably so. But that’s what makes the angle work. WWE is listening to their fans. Vince does hear the fans complain and go on a tirade when their hero has been wronged.
WWE knows that makes you pissed – that’s the point, and what happened? The fans’ support and desire to see Daniel Bryan grew. WWE is saving and bottling up all that emotion and desire from the fans, and waiting until April 6 to let the fans finally erupt in joyful celebration. Although with the possible departure of Punk, Bryan might be more likely for a match with Triple H. So it’s quite possible, we’re getting a battle of Triple H’s buddies in Orton/Batista.
Speaking of which……
I mentioned Batista winning the Royal Rumble, and it looks like he’s set for the main event of Wrestlemania (more on that later), but the real question is who is Batista? And does WWE know? It seems like WWE was expecting Big Dave to get over with the crowd as a babyface, and why not? Legends who return after a long hiatus are always welcomed back with cheers, textbook pro wrestling right there.
The problem is Batista has quickly become a heel in the eyes of the fans, after winning the Rumble and securing a spot in the main event. Fans, like myself I admit, don’t want to see and or don’t think Batista deserves such, especially over Daniel Bryan, or CM Punk, or even over a fresh face like Roman Reigns. Is he face or heel? WWE thinks one thing, while the fans think another.
Personally, I hope for the latter. Batista’s best work was at the end of his original run when he became a self-centered mega-heel, completely over the top, yet so perfect, you just loved to hate him. Babyface Batista? I just want him to get off my TV.
However it looks like Batista still has one more major obstacle before Wrestlemania – Brock Lesnar. Since coming back in January, Lesnar has made it clear that he wants a title shot as well. And after Raw, when Lesnar (accompanied by Paul Heyman) confronted Randy Orton and Batista, that fact has become even more apparent. It looks like Lesnar and Batista are going to face off at the Elimination Chamber PPV to see who goes to Wrestlemania. I fully endorse watching Batista and Lesnar beat the holy hell out of each other.
Also, the main-event has been set for Elimination Chamber – Randy Orton will defend his WWE Heavyweight Championship inside the elimination chamber against Daniel Bryan, John Cena and Sheamus (who earned a spot after beating the Shield via DQ in the main-event of Raw). The final two spots are to be announced on this week’s edition of Smackdown.
We just started our road to Wrestlemania, and things already are extremely hectic – which is a good thing. While the possible loss of CM Punk isn’t great, it seems like we’re still going to have plenty of quality matches: Cody Rhodes vs Goldust, The Shield’s implosion, and The Undertaker’s return. I know WWE might not have gotten off the best start towards Wrestlemania, but let’s not completely lose hope.