I’ve been writing about wrestling for about the last two years. I can honestly say that I don’t remember such a newsworthy week in pro wrestling. We had a Royal Rumble that resulted in an extreme fan backlash because of the result. Then the reaction carried over a little bit to the next night. And then late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, we found out that CM Punk had left the WWE for the foreseeable future. And even TNA has made news this week with the debut of MVP as their new mystery investor.
But obviously, the biggest news of the week has come from the WWE. CM Punk, who some might argue has been their biggest star in the last two years, left the WWE on RAW. The full story still isn’t out. The most likely reasoning for Punk leaving probably has to do with creative differences. And anyone who knows CM Punk knows that he is not afraid to speak his mind if he doesn’t agree with something. And we all know that CM Punk is pretty burned out and banged up from being on the road so much. All of this probably pushed Punk to his breaking point and that is why we are where we are now.
Then we have to add the Daniel Bryan factor into the mix. Fans everywhere, and not just Internet smarks, are practically begging the WWE to push him as their next top star. And I am not going to hold anything about Daniel Bryan’s first run against him. He was not pushed as a serious main eventer. He was given the spotlight at a time when ratings and PPV buys tend to be the lowest in the WWE (right in the middle of football season). Bryan’s popularity is higher now than it was at that time. And as evidence at the Royal Rumble, the fans want Bryan at the top. They recognize and appreciate all the hard work that he has put into his time with the WWE. And many of those fans were upset and irate over the fact that Batista, who has been gone for almost four years, gets shoved right back into the main event of Wrestlemania 30. Batista was never a proven draw when he was around and his status post-WWE doesn’t give him the credentials to be put into the main event.
While the WWE may not want to admit it, a lot of their fans are aware of what is going on behind the scenes. They know that CM Punk is unhappy and that’s why he left. They know that Daniel Bryan is being pushed aside for part timers and/or stars returning. And the fans aren’t happy about it. I’m sure many fans feel the same way I do. I have no problem with Batista being back. My problem is him being shoved into the Wrestlemania main event right away when nothing he’s done in his career in or out of the WWE warrants it. At least with The Rock, you could point to the fact that he was a proven draw and made a bigger name for himself outside of the WWE.
The WWE is at a very critical stage right now. They lost perhaps their top face in CM Punk. While some may say that their top face is John Cena, I’ll argue that Punk appeals to every demographic of their viewing audience. And their other top face who is like that is not given a proper push. And as the Royal Rumble and RAW showed, the fans are at the point where they are fed up and sick of it. They’re sick of seeing John Cena as the focus of the show. They don’t want people like Batista coming in and shoving guys like Punk and Bryan off to the side. Time and time again, fans always let it be known that they want new talent at the top of the card. And time and time again, the WWE fails to deliver.
Now I am in no way suggesting that I think the WWE is going to plunge into a deep depression. The WWE’s stock is at in all time high. They aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. But sooner rather than later, the WWE may be forced to listen to the fans. With the debut of the WWE Network in less than a month, the WWE couldn’t be facing a worst time to have an upset fanbase. A lot of fans who were probably excited for the Network may now he hesitant to jump on board due to their frustration with the current product. Vince McMahon and Company were expecting a steady flow of subscribers when they first announced the Network, and they want somewhere close to 2 million by the end of the year. But if they continue to produce the same old same old as far as TV goes, that number seems very unreachable at this point. You don’t think fans will just find alternative methods to watch the product? They’ve done it before, and if they aren’t getting a compelling product there is no reason to think fans won’t continue to keep doing it again.
Reports came out today that the WWE is now looking at multiple options at Wrestlemania, including putting Daniel Bryan in the WWE Title match. Now while that will be great for Bryan and if he wins it will be a great way to close the show, the WWE could have taken the much easier route. They could have just had Bryan win the Rumble and be done with it there. The WWE is not only in a crisis mode, but they were also put into panic mode this week. Will others be willing to stand up to management like CM Punk? That has to be running in the back of the minds of WWE officials. So not only could they be facing a revolt from the fans, but they also now have to worry about keeping their wrestlers happy and the possibility of them walking out.
Maybe, just maybe, the WWE is finally going to start listening to the fans. The WWE audience wants change. They want to see guys who bust their asses pushed to the main event. Bringing back stars from the past is fine, but don’t shove aside your full time performers to make room for them. At some point, the WWE won’t be able to rely on past stars for Wrestlemania. And when they have no full time guys ready to main event, they have no one else but themselves to blame. The WWE has stars like Daniel Bryan, Bray Wyatt, and all three members of The Shield waiting in the wings. If the WWE doesn’t get behind these guys soon, then their precious WWE Network may not succeed as expected.
As CM Punk once said, he’s just a spoak on the WWE wheel, and that wheel will keep moving without him. But if the WWE keeps disrespecting their fans like they have in the last few months, there won’t be any wheel left.
Until Next Time,
Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka