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The Best and Worst of WWE Raw 7/25

By 07.26.11

Best: The Cult of Personality

They licensed it. I can’t believe they licensed it.

For those of you who are nudging your friends or leaving closed-eyes, nose-up comments on YouTube, “Cult of Personality” is the theme CM Punk used after he won the Ring of Honor World Championship on his last night in the company. It “fits” him. People saying Cult of Personality doesn’t “fit” him are weird. Like, do you think Killswitch Engage is “punk music”? It fits him because it’s explaining to you exactly what he’s doing — he’s drawing you in with his unstoppable charisma and personality, then using it to tell you whatever he wants, which makes you do whatever he wants you to do. It made me do one of those prolonged, dramatic gasps when it kicked in on Raw. The life of blonde hair and basketball shorts CM Punk flashed before my eyes, and just like the verbatim blog and the promise to leave WWE with its most precious commodity it started to bring the Summer of Punk full circle. It’s not Miseria Cantare, but the appearance of Cult of Personality keeps me hopeful that this wonderful story will continue to play out, even if it ends with WWE Champion Jamie Noble.

Or possibly because of that, because then THAT leads to WWE Champion Daniel Bryan. AND THEN MORISHIMA SHOWS UP.

Worst: The Internet Wants You to Take Your Time and Hurry Up

And now we get to the part everyone wants to say. You’ve typed it or seen it typed about a hundred times since last night. I’m paraphrasing.

Punk’s back? Great, I thought they were going to do a great angle and now it’s ruined. Punk says he’s gone forever but comes back in 2 weeks??? that’s worse that when John Cena got fired twice. So now nothing means anything and the heat of the angle is simply embers. They rushed it.

And then something like

Punk should’ve teased coming back before showing up. I can’t believe they ruined it. Meh forever

I’m going to sh** in your cereal for a second. You’re wrong. This is exactly what Punk should’ve done. Here’s why.

Remember that thing I mentioned about Cult of Personality defining Punk? A lot of you are forgetting that no matter how cool he is or how much people cheer for him, CM Punk is the bad guy here. He’s never stopped playing the bad guy, we just like him because he’s so damn fun to listen to. He made a challenge he knew would destruct the Cena/Vince McMahon relationship (destroying the preconception he discussed about Cena being seen as “the best” in his famous promo), then manipulated them both into an unwinnable situation in his hometown in front of his mom and friends so he could win the WWE Championship and “take it away”. But the difference in the ROH storyline and this one is that Punk doesn’t have anywhere to go. There’s no “big leagues” above WWE. Those of you entertaining fantasies of Punk challenging Fire Ant or JT Lightning in the ECW Arena or a Pirate-themed bar in Cleveland are doing just that – entertaining fantasies. Those places don’t pay Punk, and more importantly they don’t give him what he wants the most, the pipe bomb, the microphone, the position of power to trick each and everyone one of you into following him.

Why do you think Punk showed up at Comic-Con? Because he’s “free” from a job he “didn’t want”? It’s basic human psychology. He wants them to beg him to be there, to be noticed, so that when he shows up he can have whatever he wants. That’s the contract he was trying to get McMahon to sign, that Cena ruined. The jet and the ice cream bars. The cult of personality. He wants to be the center of attention because he’s an ASSHOLE WHO IS LYING TO YOU. He’s just awesome, so we cheer. That makes it great. And here’s why it isn’t “rushed”.

Before the pay-per-view, Punk sets up the scenario. The story plays out (as you want it to) until Money in the Bank, where he wins the belt and escapes through the crowd. That’s the point where everybody’s on board. People stop being able to follow it the next week, but it’s easy to break down. Vince McMahon realized he has embarrassed himself by losing the belt to Punk, so he shows up on Raw pretending Punk didn’t exist, putting wrestlers he knows will do what they’re told into a tournament for an identical belt, and everybody goes along with it because Vince is the boss. So that’s obiously the first thing that happens after Punk bails. The tournament happens, and before it’s over Vince positions himself as being “bigger than the WWE” and tries to fire Cena. HHH shows up and says “nobody is bigger than WWE” (the super obvious point they’re making), fires Vince, Cena never gets fired because Vince’s stipulation was egotistical and dumb.

So what’s supposed to happen at that show? A new or “fake” WWE Champion is supposed to be crowned. It doesn’t happen there, but it’s only fair to finish out the tournament, so in week 2 (again, only two shows after Money in the Bank) they have to resolve it. Mysterio beats Miz to win the WWE Championship, which is the end of Vince’s plan. Triple H has to establish power, though, so he sets up his OWN title match, putting the now filled position of WWE Champion against the guy the board of directors (and HHH) felt was mistreated by Vince, Cena. H has to do that right now to show that he’s on Cena’s side, and by proxy the board’s.

Cena vs. Mysterio happens, and Cena wins. Cena is the “WWE Champion”. From here on out things proceed like CM Punk never existed UNLESS CM PUNK SHOWS UP AGAIN. That’s Punk’s game. He either had to

1) Show up when somebody was named WWE Champion, a crown that is rightfully his, or
2) Show up when Cena regained the title, which was frankly inevitable.

So now Punk has created a reality where nobody but him can be the “real” champion. He’s allowed boards of directors and chief operating officers and a tournament full of guys and a backstage full of champagne sprayers and John f**king Cena to go through the motions so he can waltz back in with his ROH theme song and rub their pointlessness in their faces. Because CM Punk is all about CM Punk, and a world is meaningless unless you’ve got people in it doing what you say. Ask God.

Punk wasn’t “rushed back”. From a business standpoint he’s the hottest guy in your company, so you want him on TV. He’s the only way things continue from the Real 1985, not the Rich Biff Tannen fake 1985 Vince was trying to create. It makes perfect sense, and Punk’s not a superhero. He’s not an anti-hero. He’s a cult leader, and instead of Colt Cabana and Daffney, instead of Luke Gallows and Serena, instead of McGillicutty and Otunga, the cult is us. The cult of CM Punk’s personality.

Although I’m sure they’ll screw it up next week.

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