For those of you that don’t know, it is currently September. Labor day has just recently passed which means that while we are still technically in summer (till September 21st) we all know that this is really, more or less, autumn. So that whole Summer storyline? The one that I (as well as several others) were complaining about not happening back in June? The one we were hoping would at least come along by Raw 1000? The one that we had hoped would, like the Punk Shoot and Nexus before it, help get us through the summer months and into a fantastic, and exciting SummerSlam? Well, I’m pretty sure that, the kickoff for that major storyline happened at the end of Raw this week.
It’s seems stupid to add a spoiler tag when talking about an episode of Raw. After all how much later than Monday does anybody wait until watching an episode? And based on the publication date of this article, you would expect me to talk about the events of the most recent Monday Night Raw. And if you haven’t seen Raw yet what are you even doing on a wrestling news site anyway? But because of the manner in which the ending was set up I almost feel that giving it away without some sort of spoiler tag would be like discussing a recent episode of a major TV drama (like Mad Men, or Game of Thrones, or LOST) without offering a spoiler tag. The ending moments of Raw were some of the most impressive visual storytelling to come along in some time. So just in case be forewarned.
I, myself had the ending somewhat spoiled as is. I was watching Raw about an hour or so after it went off of the air, but before watching glanced at the @CRAttire account ran by fellow writer and podcaster Chris Sanders where the final tweet of the evening was “HOLY CRAP, WHAT AN ARTISTIC FINISH! Felt like breaking bad,” so I knew that something would be happening at the end. When Punk walked out of the arena toward the beginning of the show, I had a fairly good guess that he would be returning at the end. But that couldn’t be it. Punk coming back would not merit a Breaking Bad comparison. So throughout the show, I looked for clues. Miz was on commentary all night and, while that was a welcome change from Lawler, there didn’t really seem to be a reason. Maybe he was involved. Swagger is leaving too? Maybe he comes back as well (thought I can’t imagine many people getting very excited about that.) But it wasn’t anything so complicated of a buildup. No the whole thing was told in a matter of seconds, just as Punk was leaving the arena, we got to see the driver, and recognize that it was Paul Heyman. But a second or two of seeing that was all that was needed.
The reason, that it worked so well (for me at least) is that it quite simply forced me to ask the question, what will happen? The entire basic principle of WWE creative, and really basic storytelling, is trying to get the audience to ask that question. Far too often WWE fails to grasp that basic question. Take a random Cena match. While we might not know exactly what will happen, we know that it can really only be one of two things. 1. Cena overcomes the odds to achieve victory, or 2. Through outside interference or other forms of cheating, Cena will be defeated. Every time. Even in Cena matches that we care about, (MiTB 2011) it still comes down to those two basic outcomes. The driving force of the match is the added variable of a possible champion leaving the company. That’s what makes us ask what will happen.
Like the previous summer storylines, this really opens the opportunity for people to ask, “What will happen?” because the answers are quite possibly endless. Go to a wrestling site, any one. This one will do. Just so long as it has a message board or a comments section. With out much looking you will find plenty of armchair booking. Some of it will be unreasonable. (The best way to revive the tag division right now would be to bring back an Edge and Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz feud.) Someone will always point out that right now (whenever right now is) would be the perfect time to turn Cena heel. But a lot of the armchair booking can range from “Not bad” to “Actually, really good.” Unburdened by things such as injuries, and getting to ignore any wrestler you don’t care about, fans that really invest can create fantastic storylines. And I saw a couple of fan theories way back when Heyman first came back that suggested that he teamed up with Punk. Now that this has seemingly happened, the question is, what’s next? More than just one explanation is needed. How did these guys team up? What is their plan, their goal? What does this mean for Punk? What does this mean for Lesnar? Each of these questions has more than one possible answer that will not only work fine, but also create a really fantastic storyline. And because summer storylines usually take us all the way to SummerSlam, I hope it’s not too much to ask that Punk and Heyman stay awesome at least through Survivor Series.