You guys and girls are soooo lucky to have me. You see, the State is coming to my school next week to make a final decision on whether or not to extend our charter. I am knee-deep in work and at the end of my sanity rope, but here I am with another thoughtful column for ya.
To quote Damien Sandow, “You’re welcome.”
Something I’ve noticed and commented on in recent weeks involves the perceived “forced” heel turn of CM Punk, stemming from his attack on The Rock at the 1,000th episode of Raw this July. While the general understanding of the heel turn is that it will allow Punk to say what’s on his mind, the truth of the matter is that he had that ability all along when he became an anti-hero in the Summer of 2011. He became the self-proclaimed “Voice of the Voiceless” and broke the fourth wall when he name-dropped John Laurinaitis, Colt Cabana, and Luke Gallows in his promos. Punk would insult the WWE’s golden boy John Cena and the 50% or so of the crowd that despised the man finally had someone to root for. At the 2011 Survivor Series, I watched in person as Punk unseated Alberto del Rio with the Anaconda Vise to begin one of the longest title reigns in WWE history. He went on to defeat del Rio, The Miz, Dolph Ziggler, Chris Jericho, Kane, and Daniel Bryan in great matches…but always in the shadow of John Cena’s angles.
A great storyline could have arisen from this situation, and it all would hinge around The Rock’s title shot at the 2012 Royal Rumble. Face vs face. Hero vs anti-hero. And yet, the WWE decided to try and force the crowd to choose one man over the other. Instead of allowing the natural charisma and chemistry between Punk and Cena to flow, they opted to turn Punk into an ultra heel. Hell, I remember when he first verbally confronted Jerry Lawler and so many contributors to this site claimed that Punk wasn’t turning heel; he was simply stating the obvious. “It’s not a heel turn!” Oh yeah? Then what do you call what he’s doing now? He’s certainly not pandering to the crowd. In fact, he’s flat-out insulting the audience at every turn and whining about “respect” in every promo. CM Punk is doing the typical heel shtick to draw cheap heat and I for one am annoyed by it. I still love Punk on the mic and in the ring, but it’s insulting and obnoxious to try and force a fan into drinking the company Kool-Aid. People want to cheer a snarky, sarcastic CM Punk. Let’s keep him that way.
On the other end of the spectrum is Sheamus. The guy has a unique look and his style is that of a brawler. Personally, I think he was thrust into the limelight at the wrong time, like The Miz, but he recovered and built up some good will over on Smackdown. He remained a heel, but it wasn’t until the time of Mark Henry’s big push that Sheamus began to receive fan support. It wasn’t much, but if you recall the time he faced Henry when no one else wanted a piece of the big man, he got a decent pop. Sheamus was still technically a heel at that point; he didn’t acknowledge the fans and certainly didn’t support any other faces at the time. If used properly, Sheamus could have been a great brawler with no clear heel/face designation. Just a guy who loved to fight.
The WWE dropped the ball with that one. He turned into an unstoppable babyface, defeating opponent after opponent for months with no clear direction or feud. He went for cheap pops and cutesy “family stories” as well as the requisite Cena “poopy jokes.” I mean, just look at this past Monday’s
debate debacle. Big Show was getting cheered because he rightly called out the stupidity of the situation. What did Sheamus do? He pestered Show about holding the title for 45 seconds. Repeatedly. The kids are into him, and since the company is focused on their young audience, I suppose you can call it a success. I just wonder what could have been if the WWE had allowed for the natural progression of things.
A great example of a forced turn that made no sense and didn’t work in the long run can be seen in the heel turn of Stone Cold Steve Austin following his match with The Rock at Wrestlemania XVII. The logic behind the turn was barely there and made no sense in terms of the character. Austin joined Vince McMahon and remained heel through the early weeks of the Invasion before pulling a double turn and joining the WCW/ECW Alliance, where once again we had a bullshit excuse (Austin felt underappreciated….boo-freaking-hoo). Austin had some entertaining backstage skits with Kurt Angle and a memorable Triple Threat match with Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho….but other than that, the heel turn was not a good decision. People didn’t want to boo Austin; they wanted to embrace him as the anti-hero that helped bring WCW to its knees.
Got any heel or face turns that you feel were forced upon the wrestling fanbase? Agree or disagree with me? Sound off in the comments below.
Jeez, I’m starting to sound like CB.
So long, and thanks for all the fish.
Tags: alberto del rio, big show, Chris Benoit, chris jericho, cm punk, colt cabana, Damien Sandow, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Invasion, Jerry Lawler, john cena, John Laurinaitis, kane, Kurt Angle, Luke Gallows, Mark Henry, Mike Gojira, Raw, royal rumble, sheamus, Smackdown, Stone Cold Steve Austin, survivor series, The Miz, The Rock, vince mcmahon, WCW/ECW Alliance, wrestlemania xvii, WWE