The Mother Brain Files: The â€œRealityâ€ Era
By Mother Brain
Since his unforgettable shoot-style promo three weeks before WWEâ€™s Money in the Bank PPV, CM Punk has drawn more mainstream interest in the product than any performer in the active roster. While the company continues to build on its marquee match between The Rock and John Cena for Wrestlemania 28, Punk has taken the summer, which is usually the dry season of the business, and made it a must see attraction. In just a few short weeks, Punk has appeared at various events (Comic Con, indie shows, Jimmy Kimmel, TMZ, etc), conducted interviews with ESPN, and even ignited a campaign for the revival of the WWE ice cream bars.
But this blog isnâ€™t so much about CM Punk as it is the new direction he helped to set the WWE to. Since they began their more PG-driven direction three years ago, many fans within the internet wrestling community felt that Vince McMahon had lost his Midas touch. There were lackluster storylines with short buildups, bland characters, good ideas gone bad, etc. It wasnâ€™t long before the legends (Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, Triple H, etc.) decided to hang up their boots or step aside for the next generation of superstars. But the WWE continued to push more towards young children who buy the merchandise of their favorite stars as opposed to older fans who grew restless by a predictable product.
The success of Wrestlemania 27 this year was due to the presence of The Rock as the special guest host. But the focus was less on his MC duties and more about his war of words with John Cena that started not in a wrestling ring but through interviews in various media outlets. The decision to hold off their big payoff match for next yearâ€™s Wrestlemania sparked a lightbulb in the mind of Vince McMahon. One that made him realize that long term booking can be done in a revolutionary way. Rather than having Rock appear week in and week out to keep the Cena feud going, both men are utilizing social media (i.e. Twitter) and viral outlets (i.e. YouTube) to fuel more fire and make fans believe their dislike for each other is legitimate.
Even with Rock/Cena as a lock for Wrestlemania 28, the rest of the roster is still lacking true star power. Yet, a guy like Zack Ryder who barely gets used on TV manages to create an online web series that captures the attention of the internet wrestling community. Once it spread like wildfire, Ryder began to draw a big pop at WWE events even if he showed up for a brief second on the Titantron. Now heâ€™s working matches on Raw and appearing as Teddy Longâ€™s assistant on Smackdown.
Then thereâ€™s CM Punk. The straight edged superstar singlehandedly created an eruption on WWE TV that changed the direction of the company all together. His reality-based feud against the company leading up to the John Cena title match at Money in the Bank generated arguably more buzz than Wrestlemania. The intensity of the feud was so real that even the companyâ€™s infamous talent relations officer John Laurinaitis was brought in to be the new McMahon stooge. Then to keep interest alive after his â€œfinalâ€ match, Punk appeared with his legit WWE title at numerous events including the San Diego Comic Con where he confronted Triple H.
The point here is that â€œrealityâ€ is the new â€œattitudeâ€. It doesnâ€™t mean the PG direction goes away and we go back to hardcore matches. But it does mean loosening the restrictions on foul language, blood, and placing the backstage politics in front of millions around the world. What the business saw as a curse in the form of the internet has become an advantage in making storylines more interesting and giving the fans a greater voice for concern (i.e. Christianâ€™s 1st short title reign, Zack Ryder on TV, WWE ice cream bars, etc).
And guess what? Theyâ€™re listening.