Okay, so I’m writing this the same day that my last column just got posted, so it’s entirely possible that by the time this goes up it will be irrelevant or outdated or someone else might have already beat me to one or more of these ideas, but oh well,
Greetings to all in the Common DenomiNation! If I haven’t made it clear before, I think this is the best time of the year to be a wrestling fan. As a “smart” fan, I also can’t help but trying a little armchair booking on the Road to Wrestlemania. I gave my thoughts on how the card appeared to be shaping up and what tweaks I would make at this point in my last column. However, word soon came out the The Undertaker might be (maybe even probably will be) unavailable for a Wrestlemania match.
Now on the surface, this seems like bad news for CM Punk, who just about everyone seemed to have penciled in as the next guy to try to end ‘Taker’s 20-0 streak. Assuming that was the plan, and further assuming those plans could very likely be scrapped now, where does that leave the longest reigning WWE Champion of the modern era?
The early consensus appears to be throwing Punk into the mix with Rock and Cena in the WWE title match. As that is, at this point, the “safest” move to make, that’s likely what will end up happening. And that would be all right, actually. While I fully believe that the Wrestlemania Main Event (assuming it goes on after HHH-Lesnar) would ideally be a traditional one-on-one match, I imagine there’s a great story that could be told with both Punk and Cena going, umm, “one-on-one-on-one with the Great One” and that’s cool.
But of course, most of us would like to see something more of a thinking outside the box (outside the ring?) idea. So, here’s a couple of scenarios.
So the Monday Night Raw after Elimination Chamber, Rock has retained the WWE title against Punk, and he’s now focusing on challenger John Cena. CM Punk comes out and gives a big speech about still demanding respect. At some point, the lights go out and the Undertaker’s gong hits. And sure enough, when the lights go on, ‘Taker is in the ring behind Punk. Punk turns around and Undertaker goes to grab Punk’s throat for the choke slam, but Punk slides out of the ring all cocky and retreats to the entrance area. Taker, without speaking, simply points to the Wrestlemania sign.
The next week, Undertaker comes out to the ring first and officially challenges CM Punk to a Wrestlemania match. Punk comes down, the two exchange words, and Punk says “here’s my answer.” He then low-blows ‘Taker, or kicks him in the knee, or whatever. I’m not sure if Punk could GTS Undertaker or not or if whatever’s wrong with ‘Taker would prevent him from taking the move. You could always go with the Anaconda Vice or a lead pipe or whatever, but basically he delivers an epic beatdown, maybe even with (gasp!) blood. So, then it is announced that due to sustained injuries, Undertaker will be unable to compete at Wrestlemania 29. Punk can then brag that he “ended the streak.” Of course, technically, Undertaker has missed Wrestlemanias before, so that’s not exactly true, but that won’t matter to Punk.
Then over the next few shows, different WWE Legends come out to try to get revenge. Use whoever you want: Flair, Sgt. Slaughter, Goldust, Lawler, Vader, Bret – I don’t care, it all ends the same, with Punk taking them out. But eventually, you get someone who will end up being his Wrestlemania opponent. Now, here I have three choices and all three have their appeal. I’ll list them from least likely to most likely
1) CM Punk gives a “General Zod in Superman II”-esque, “Is there no one left to even challenge me?” shout and then the glass breaks, and out comes “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Austin says he and ‘Taker had some hellacious wars back in the Attitude Era and now he’s gonna whoop CM Punk’s ass, and it’s on like Donkey Kong (are the kids still saying that? I’m not very hip). I don’t care who actually wins at ‘Mania. This match would be awesome in every way.
2) Punk continues to challenge any of the “old, broken-down has-beens and never-weres” to try their best, because he’s the greatest of all time. Cue “Sexy Boy” and out comes the Heart Break Kid himself. Shawn Michaels takes umbrage with Punk’s claims and what he did to the man that retired him. From a wrestling standpoint, this could be the match of the decade. Again, I don’t care who goes over, but Shawn would likely expect the win to come out of retirement. And I have no problem with that.
3) Same as with Shawn, only instead of HBK’s music, we get the screeching tires and the crash and out comes Mick Foley. Foley talks about respect having to be earned and whatnot. Later comes the twist: Punk says he’s not worried about Mick Foley, to which Foley responds, “Oh that’s good, because it’s not Mick Foley you’ve got at Wrestlemania. And it’s not Dude Love or even Mankind. No, you’ll be going toe-to-toe with Cactus Jack!” I think Punk wins this one for sure, but it should be wild.
Now no matter which of these scenarios plays out (and ideally Punk would win no matter what, but that’s not necessarily the key here), around January of next year, Punk picks up the “I ended the streak” storyline in time for the big three-oh, and if ‘Taker’s up for it, you finally blow it off with Punk-Undertaker at Wrestlemania XXX.
My second scenario (yes, the above was just one scenario with three sub-scenarios) is a little more out there, but it could work. Look, I get that Punk works great as a heel, but we all want to cheer for him, come on, WWE, how about this?
Last week on Raw, Paul Heyman’s collusion with The Shield and crooked referee Brad Maddox was exposed by Mr. McMahon. After that, Brock Lesnar came out to prevent Vince from firing Heyman, giving him the F-5. Now, the natural progression of the storyline has HHH challenging Brock to get revenge, right? Well, let’s say, instead, that on the next Raw, Punk comes out with Heyman in tow. Punk again denies any relationship with The Shield and Maddox and wants Heyman to explain himself. Paul E says he did it for Punk. Punk gets pissed and says that Heyman tainted his reign and made him look like a fool. He’s about to lay Heyman out when the Shield attacks. They lay the smack down on Punk, including the triple power bomb. Then, to add insult to injury, Lesnar comes out and delivers the F-5 to Punk for good measure.
The next week, or maybe even two weeks to sell the beating, HHH indeed comes out to confront Lesnar. Only Brock gets the upper hand on Trips, maybe with the help of Heyman and the Shield, and is about to break his arm again, or do the F-5, but lo and behold, CM Punk makes the save, clearing the ring. He and HHH have a staredown in the middle of the ring, and then they shake hands. HHH then gets the mic, points to the sign and tells Brock it’s going to be Lesnar vs. Punk at Wrestlemania.
Add to that, if you really wanted to go down the nostalgia road, you could have HHH at ringside, maybe with HBK to thwart the Shield, or hell, do a six-man with The Shield vs. DX and a guest partner (Foley? Ryback? Shane?). Throw in Rock-Cena and I think you’ve got a nice top of the card.
But, like I said, it seems like they want to play it as safe as possible, so the triple threat Rock vs. Cena vs. Punk seems like the most likely alternative to Punk-Undertaker. If that ends up being the case, they could go a slightly different route. Back at Starrcade 1995, Ric Flair, Sting, and Lex Luger fought in a “Triangle Match.” This match differed from what we usually see today, as only two men were in the ring at any time, while the other had to tag in. The weird dynamic was taken up a notch by Luger, who wrestled as a powerhouse face against the evil Flair, and as a sneaky and dastardly heel when in the ring with loveable good-guy Sting.
…as seen here…
If the WWE went that route with Rock-Cena-Punk, you could get some really interesting things going story-wise. I mean, you’ve got Rock, who is super popular, but still couldn’t completely win over the Royal Rumble crowd. You’ve got Cena, who is theoretically the Golden Boy hero to millions, but always draws a good number of boos, and you’ve got Punk, supposedly the reviled heel but no one wants to boo him. If nothing else, it would be a wonderful social experiment to see how the crowd’s loyalty shifts as the match progresses.
Now, again, by the time this goes out, all of this might be a moot point, but I couldn’t help but weigh in with my take. Anyway, thanks for reading.