Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Punk/HHH Is a Lot of Things, but Not a Hotshot

Is Punk a folk hero or an unlikable dick?
Photo Credit: WWE.com
There were a lot of differing criticisms about the end of RAW last night and the announcement that it would be Triple H taking on CM Punk at Night of Champions instead of Kevin Nash challenging the Straight Edge Savior. The one that seems to come up the most is that it's a hotshot. The announcement was abrupt, yes. They were building towards Punk/Nash since SummerSlam, yes. However, despite all that, this is not a hotshot. If you think about it, they've actually been building to this match since 6/27. Yeah, remember? Doofus son-in-law? Two months, Punk has been taking shots at Triple H, and for the most part, Trips took the shots in humor. Last night was his breaking point. There's nothing to suggest that this was the hotshot.

Now, that doesn't mean it's a good idea. Again, if Triple H was the endgame for Night of Champions, why misdirect with Kevin Nash of all people? Maybe it was a way to get everyone's hopes depressed for the prospect of Punk having to carry his 51-year old carcass around the ring for an extended period of time to the point where Trips would seem like an improvement. While there's reason to believe that this was the story all along (although the reasoning on the surface seems flimsy at best), it comes off so much like swerve storytelling, stuff that gets a company like Impact lambasted (rightfully so, by the way).

Secondly, and most importantly, the narrative is screwed up. How's Punk getting underneath Trips' skin. He's insinuating that his wife keeps his balls in her purse. While that's good for occasional ball-busting among friends in a fratboy douchebag sort of way, the longer it's kept up, the more people are going to want to see Trips deck Punk, not for Punk to prevail over his "evil" boss (who's totally not being portrayed as evil).

Again, the story isn't flawed because it's being rushed. Hardly. Unless the endgame is Punk/Trips at WrestleMania, then a two-to-three PPV arc between the two should start right now if that's the case. Hell, it could end up that the two bury the hatchet and join forces because they're being set up by whoever it was who sent the text to Nash in the first place. The story is fatally flawed because it's a bad story in the context of the direction they've set forth.

Punk is supposed to be a folk hero, right? While this course he's on makes him a folk hero by the very definition of the word, those kinds of niche characters don't get over the way that wrestling characters are SUPPOSED to get over. Wrestling caters to a specific audience, and usually the kinds of people who gravitate to a caustic troll (which is what Punk's character is) don't gravitate to wrestling. Steve Austin was a folk hero, but he was an oxymoronic folk hero who had broad appeal. He raged against his corrupt boss. Triple H hasn't proven himself corrupt, so Punk comes off as a dick. Yeah, he's a dick who got screwed over, but until/unless Triple H is revealed as a liar, the more he goads the Game, the more he seems like he deserves to get screwed.

But as badly framed as the narrative is, it's not too soon for a match between the doofus son-in-law and the pipebomb-wielding future star of the company. To call this a hotshot is to do the same thing that people accuse WWE of doing all the time, ignoring longer-term history. That doesn't mean you have to like the story, but at least be honest in criticizing it instead of using smark buzzwords to frame an argument that doesn't fit the thing you're raging against.

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