What kind of heartless bastard would I be if I didn’t give Howard Finkel a big, stinking Best for showing up as CM Punk’s personal ring announcer? It was the best part of Punk’s ice cream bars nostalgia trip, and seeing as how ring announcing involves nothing but your voice, I’ll go ahead and state the obvious: Howard Finkel should still be the every day WWE ring announcer, and Justin Roberts should take his love of entertaining the fans and his JEEEEEEEEEERN CENA and go screw. When you talk about Jim Ross you have to qualify it with “one of” the best announcers of all time, but for ring announcers? Nobody’s even in Fink’s ballpark. I like Gary Michael Cappetta more than most, but come on.
Worst: Colt Cabana Chants Not Accomplishing Anything
It’s the deadest horse to beat, but Colt Cabana not being employed by WWE is continually weird and dumb. I mean, I enjoy the fact that I got my picture taken with Matt Classic at last year’s King Of Trios and I like seeing Colt show up randomly in Austin to wrestle Bolt Brady or whoever, but he’s the most unrealistically pleasant and seasoned guy to not be doing this on television. So Scotty Goldman didn’t work. Punk + Cabana ALWAYS works, and with Punk a now five-time world champion and a fixture in WWE pop culture it makes zero-to-even-less sense for Colt to not be his onscreen second. You don’t even have to invest a lot in him. Don’t make Colt the WWE Champion or anything, but tag him with Punk, let him be a Jobber To The Stars, let him get beaten up with a Punk feud needs some gravity. Give him Eve’s money and put Eve out to trophy wife pasture.
Best: 95% Of Punk Vs. Del Rio
You know what? I’ve hated almost every second of this feud. I think what they’ve done to Alberto Del Rio is unfortunate, and I think the praise heaped on Punk for his character and performances since August (or, debatably, July) have been undeserved. However, here are two truths I’m willing to admit:
1. Taking the belt off of Del Rio here and giving it to Punk was the right call. It was. If they weren’t serious about making Del Rio a legitimate WWE Champion of worth, why waste time on it? I think he deserves it, but obviously the fans aren’t buying it, at least not the way you’re selling it, and they want Punk on top. Punk gets a “fresh start” without Kevin Nash and Triple H hanging over his head, and we get to see if he’s telling the truth about the whole “making the WWE fun again” thing.
2. This match was as good as the feud’s build has been bad. It went a long way to reminding me why I like Punk so much in the first place. I like his personality, but yeah, I also like what he does in the ring. I like how natural it feels, how imperfect it can be. I like seeing a guy who isn’t an unnatural super hero monster performing at a high level in a big match situation. It allows me to identify with him and care about what happens to him more. He sweats, he looks like he’s hurt. That’s important. Sometimes when you’re a giant muscular dude it’s hard for me to believe that gentle kick to the stomach hurt you, but sh*t, Punk’s abdomen looks like mine. That kick might hurt.
The match took a little while to get going, but in a good way. Not counting some inconsistencies with the finish and some terrible post match stuff I’ll mention in a minute, it was right alongside those July and August main events we ate up so thoroughly. Punk’s true “pipe bomb” is his ability to back up speeches with great wrestling matches. I’m going to forgive him his trespasses and accept his “shut up and eat your mush” Twitter demands, at least for now. Here’s your chance to start over, everybody. Let’s try to keep it going this time.
Oh, and a personal memo to Punk: win more matches with the Anaconda Vice. Use Go To Sleep on guys who can take it without making you look like you’re straining on a Nautilus machine.
Best: The Lambeau Leap
It wasn’t Chicago, but it didn’t have to be. Punk running and jumping into the crowd to celebrate was a nice moment. And hey, if Michelle Beadle was in the front row I’d probably run at and jump on her, too.
Worst: CM Punk’s Magically Healing Arm
Aaaaaaaand I can’t get out of this page without bringing up how much I hate this. I’m sorry in advance for this nerdy paragraph.
CM Punk spend the entire match getting his left arm destroyed by Alberto Del Rio. Del Rio even targeted it when he tripped up Punk on the top rope. It was great limb work from both sides and Punk sold it like a champ for the entirety of the match … and then Punk won the match using a submission requiring arm strength. Del Rio tried to claw at his eyes instead of just hitting him in the bad arm. Punk won, raised the belt over his head with his bad arm, then ran around jumping in the crowd and celebrating. You can call it adrenaline for the Anaconda Vice, but at some point on the ramp it wouldn’t have killed him to lower his arm and at least pretend like any of what’d just happened hurt. Any of it.
If we condescend on folks like John Cena for doing this, we’ve got to at least acknowledge it when people we like do the same.