|He's still got the chops, but is he worth the risk?|
Waltman has cleaned his act up over the years, and at King of Trios earlier this year, he proved he could still go, gradually building up to an epic Rey de Voladores final where he lost to El Generico in what is many people's match of the year to date. You'd think it'd be a no-brainer to bring him in as a foil for Punk, especially since the match quality would ostensibly be on par with the affairs the Straight Edge Savior had with John Cena. However, there'd be two stumbling blocks. One is his hepatitis. There's no guarantee that with his condition he'd be cleared medically to wrestle in WWE. Two is that even if he was cleared? Punk might balk at wrestling him out of the odd chance that Waltman did get busted open hardway and put him at risk for contacting the disease.
The upside to this would be that WWE has scaled back its style over the years so that stuff like blading has forcibly become antiquated. Guys bleeding in matches has become somewhat of a rare occurrence anymore, and thus transmission of bloodborne pathogens is reduced to the point where maybe a guy like Waltman would be alright to compete in a one-off match.
However, for a company that is trying so hard to forge a public image of safety and accountability, how risky is too risky? Even something that's relatively "safe" might not be worth it if the end result could be taking out one of the building blocks of its future before he even had a chance to give all he could give. All it would take is one tooth knocked out of Waltman's mouth, one errant punch to bust him open (and even the most careful wrestlers make mistakes) or one botched elbow to the face causing a bloody nose that would create a severely hazardous working environment.
So while I myself was excited for the prospect of what would be, even today, a PHENOMENAL match between one of the best wrestlers in the company and a solid worker who can still go, I'm not sure this is ever going to happen. I'm also not sure I'd blame Punk or WWE for nixing it from the get go. While I think there'd be nothing to worry about, I also don't want to be wrong and have Punk end up with a disease that would put him on the shelf and endanger his life. So yeah, this is a match that'd be best left up to video games and fantasy booking, because I don't think it's happening for good reason.
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein - Please visit his site to view the plentiful amounts of pictures he's taken for DGUSA, ROH and other indie feds: Get Lost Photography