Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What They're Saying: CM Punk's Epic Promo

Punk's got people talkin', yo
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Here you go:

Razor (Fair to Flair)
Whether or not Punk is actually going to leave WWE is irrelevant; what’s important now is he managed to make people think that he really did just run down WWE, call Stephanie McMahon and Triple H “idiots,” say “Hi” to Colt Cabana and threaten to take the WWE Championship to Ring of Honor.

Again, the rules have changed, but the game is still the same.

Casual fans can sit back and watch the show like I wish I could, but it takes a different approach to get those jaded fans to feel something when watching wrestling. Am I suggesting that “worked shoots” should become the new norm? No, but it is an effective storytelling device in the right situation in the hands of the right actors.
I still use those terms, but I can see where Razor's coming from here. For me, I don't think enjoying the product and using those terms and analyzing in that light are mutually exclusive. That being said, I think I envy his outlook a smidge.

My verdict after watching the @CMPunk promo, he just had his Austin 3:16 moment. Don't fuck this one up @wwe .
Only if Punk isn't taking a break. The reason why 3:16 worked so well was because Austin went RIGHT into a feud with Bret Hart. Punk? If he leaves, then some of the impact (not all of it, but some of it) is lost over time.

Mark Madden
But the majority of the audience had little idea what Punk was talking about. Let Impact book for the IWC. WWE has prospered by booking for the casual fan. This was a rare departure from that. Let’s see how effective it is.
I'm all about giving equal time to all POVs, even if it's to a bozo. Anyway, Madden misses the point. Hardcore. But you know who got the point and articulates the shit out of it? The next guy...

David Bixenspan (Cageside Seats)
It was never implied that wrestling is a work, and the references catering to hardcore fans were structured in ways that could plausibly be understood by causal fans:
  • Plenty of fans were watching when Paul Heyman was around and knew he was behind ECW. Everyone knows who Brock Lesnar is and plenty know why he left.
  • Even if you aren't familiar with New Japan Pro Wrestling or Ring of Honor, you're immediately aware that they are other wrestling companies. Colt Cabana was clearly implied to be a wrestler in this strange "Ring of Honor" place.
  • He laid out that John Laurinaitis was one of Vince's "douchebag yes men" before mentioning his name.
  • Stephanie McMahon and Triple H are firmly established on TV as being a married couple.
  • The ending implying that he was going to tell a story about the anti-bullying campaign being hypocritical in light of things Vince McMahon has said to him makes sense both with the hardcore fan interpretation of the real Vince McMahon and the on-screen character he portrays. It also works plausibly as the cut-off point, as sponsors, bad media exposure, etc. are more than just some references to other promotions existing and WWE higher ups being stupid/out of touch.
Take all that and wrap it up into a calmly furious, brilliantly delivered wrestling promo where he still positioned himself firmly as a heel (even using the infamous tales of fans that constantly harrass him and WWE wrestlers at airports in the process), and that's why it worked.
Not only are they awesome at investigative reporting, but they got opinion writing down pat too.

jerseyboy at A1-Wrestling
Oh, it was totally "teh shootz", but it wasn't as offensive here because the WWE doesn't do that all the time. The reason Russo's shoots suck is because TNA does them every fucking week.
Also, with Russo, his shoots are accepted as a part of Impact. WWE? They cut Punk's mic and abruptly ended the show. A promo like Punk's is only effective if people think that management is legitimately pissed at it.

Daniel Bryan
With revolution dripping off his lips with every word, @CMPunk was a god last night.
And you thought ol' AmDrag would be mad by Punk co-opting his "Best in the World" moniker... *emoticon*

Steve Austin
@CMPunk just melted my 52 inch TV with a scorching hot promo...delivery, content, and attitude...one of the best promos I've ever seen.
That's why a feud between Austin and Punk would rule. There's mutual respect there. You know they'd trust working with each other to make a story between the two be the most epic thing ever.

Justin Henry (Camel Clutch Blog)
Well, the final angle is what made it work, even if it’s as “worked” as anything else. But man, did Punk have that audience listening. Decent matches here and there, but that promo, oh man that promo.

Something else, man.

Kurt Angle
CM Punk had classic promo last night. Good for Him. But if U ever say another word about Me again, Ur toast! If U don't believe Me, try Me!
More than likely referring to when Punk (rightfully) called him a drunk idiot after Angle went after Randy Orton... err, I'm sorry, when the "Twitter hacker" went after Orton. The last time I checked, threatening people for the things they say is generally frowned upon.

Bill Simmons
CM Punk's Monday Night Raw performance tonight was one for the ages.
By now, Simmons can be considered a "casual fan", I'd say. I'm telling you, this is watershed material here.

Brandon Stroud
What Traina isn’t considering is that Punk’s speech WAS real. It comes down to your definition of “real”. WWE is very concerned with making you think what they want you to think. If Kelly Kelly points at you and smiles as she’s trotting down to the ring, they want you to cheer for her. If someone says “each and every one of you” or “you people” into a microphone, you’re supposed to boo. This is supposed to translate into an emotional reaction that is hard to have if you aren’t five. That’s WWE’s reality.

What Punk did was smash a hole in that reality using OUR reality, the reality of the jaded fan on the Internet who wants what you’ve never seen to be the focus of television, and when that happens, wants something else. They didn’t support Scotty Goldman when he was doing picture-in-picture jokes on Smackdown, but they get excited when Colt Cabana is mentioned by name. They get excited when Matt Hardy shows up and blurts out “Ring of Honor”, but give up on him when they realize he’s still just in the WWE, and he’s still just Matt Hardy. That’s how we work, for better or worse. Most of us, anyway.

Punk took what we consider reality — held down wrestlers, pushes for guys who suck, “sports entertainment” replacing “wrestler” on TV, no promotion existing in the eyes of WWE except for WWE, Triple H, Stephanie, backstage WWE and basically everything Chavo Guerrero will be blogging about for the next six months — and used it as a tool to enhance WWE’s interpretation. That’s the genius of last night. Punk took a formula that doesn’t work (“everything else on the show is fake, but this part is real”), paired it with a few other things that don’t work (talking to the Internet on TV, mentioning backstage stuff 90% of your audience has no idea about), and willed them together into something that works by doing something nobody else who has tried has: being great.
Saving maybe the best take for last.

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!

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