Wednesday, 13 July 2011
Duckman Arrives At WLH To Talk ROH & WWE
First things first I suppose I should introduce myself. Seeing as this is the first time I’ve written for Wrestling’s Last Hope (what a great name for a site by the way!) I’m Duckman, as you can tell by my screen name. My friend’s call me Sam. I’m 30 years old and live in the West Coast of Scotland. I’ve worked in the legal profession for the past ten years – not nearly as exciting or glamorous as it sounds, believe me. I support the mighty Glasgow Rangers FC and love MMA, music and the pub!
Oh yeah, and I’m an avid fan of professional wrestling which I’ve been following for as long as I can remember. Which I guess is the reason I’m writing this column, and hopefully more, for this great site. If Stu lets me that is…if he doesn’t, thanks for reading and it’s been a hell of a ride!
Anyway, my main interest these days is Ring of Honor. I’ve been a die hard ROH fan since I first saw it on the Wrestling Channel (oh how I miss thee) here in the UK back in early 2004. I was hooked the moment I saw Low Ki vs. AJ Styles from the old Murphy Rec Center in a match from a few years earlier. I had never seen wrestling like it – my mind was officially blown.
Since those early days I’ve purchased over 200 ROH DVD's and followed the promotion about as closely as you can from the UK. I also follow a lot of other indy wrestling with PWG and DGUSA being two of my favourite promotions. But honestly? It’s all about ROH for me. Has been for years and I’d imagine that’s what the majority of my potential future ramblings here will be about.
Of course my wrestling obsession began like most people with the WWF around 1990 or 1991 when I was 9 years old. I have vague, misty memories of watching the UK classic, World of Sport show on ITV with my Dad when I was very young but it was the bright colours and superhero characters of WWF that hooked me properly. I still remember the first match I saw, an absolute catch-as-catch-can “classic” between a bloated and roided up Davy Boy Smith and even more bloated and roided up Warlord from WWF Superstars. Five minutes of unconvincing punches and kicks, a lot of stalling and a press slam or two. Man, that one match, no matter how obviously shitty it was, hooked me for life. I was to the WWF what Smith and Warlord were to HGH – an addict!
That addiction lead me to attending live events in the UK, staying up late watching all the WWF/E PPVs on Sky Sports and buying loads of VHS tapes (remember them kids?) I followed all the highs and the lows of WWF/E through the 90s and into the 2000s. You could say I grew up watching wrestling.
As I got older I found myself becoming a student of the weird pseudo sport – watching shoot interviews, reading wrestling books, watching as many classic and historic matches from the US, Japan and Mexico as I could find. I was basically learning the history of what had gone before. Like I said, a true wrestling addict. Or the less complimentary moniker, a smark. Hey, I’m fucking proud of it!
But in recent years I’ve found that addiction, specifically where WWF/E was concerned, has turned into an obsession, which in turn faded to an avid interest, to an interest, to a casual follow, to a barely even watch anymore, to my current state; a 30 year old, life long wrestling fan, who simply can’t stand the product that is WWE or their red headed step child, TNA…or Impact Wrestling…or WCW The Revenge…or whatever it’s called this week. That thing Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff are feeding off of like two perma- tanned leeches. You know the one I mean.
I can honestly say I haven’t watched a full episode of Raw or Impact in the last few years. I follow the shows in reports online and if something interests me I’ll watch but for the majority of the time I get bored by it. I still watch the big four PPVs that WWE produce – more out of habit than actual interest.
It’s a sad state of affairs really but thankfully with the indy scene in the US there are still places where a jaded wrestling fan can find enjoyment. In particular ROH where they still present wrestling as a serious sport, that doesn’t insult your intelligence and it isn’t simply geared up as a corporate machine that markets bullshit to kids, all the while being embarrassed by what they are what they sell. Me? Bitter? Never!
Then again, perhaps all is not lost for the disenfranchised WWE fan and that’s what I’m going to talk about today – apart from myself! There is a glimmer of hope with the current ‘hottest thing in wrestling,’ which as you all know is the angle currently being played out by a man who I have long considered as the most complete and entertaining wrestler working today, that man of course being the majestic CM Punk.
As a long time ROH fan I can’t help feeling both an over whelming sense of pride in seeing Punk setting the wrestling world on fire over the past month and also a slightly smug ‘told you so’ attitude towards the whole thing.
When you follow someone that you just know is ‘the man’ and you tell people he’s ‘the man’ and all they reply with is, “well he’s not in WWE so he doesn’t matter,” it kind of makes you sick. That’s what used to happen to me when I told people about CM Punk in ROH. Cause we all knew he was going to be the best in the world but no one believed us. Thankfully now everyone else is finally catching up. It’s about damn time people!!
Anyone who saw Punk’s work in ROH will now be telling you that if you think his work in WWE is good, you should have seen his feud with Raven. Or the awesome Second City Saints stable with Colt Cabana and Ace Steel. Or his series of matches with Samoa Joe which put the ROH World Title on the map and lit the fire for both men to become Kings of the Indies. They’ll regale you with stories of his intense feuds with Jimmy Rave and countless others. Then of course the coup de grâce – The Summer of Punk in 2005.
That was a very similar angle to what is playing out at the moment in WWE. I won’t go into the whole angle because I’ll be here all day. For those who don’t know (and shame on you if you’re in that group) let’s just say it was the dress rehearsal for the angle currently playing out in front of millions of people on WWE TV every week.
That angle cemented my belief that CM Punk was destined for greatness because he did something I hadn’t seen any other wrestler do in ROH. He successfully worked the fans. Those same fans, like me and no doubt like you, who read the websites, who subscribe to the newsletters, who consume and devour every piece of wrestling news and insight we can. Even those jaded assholes in the Green Lantern t-shirts, Punk did the impossible - he fooled us all. Something that is almost impossible to do with today’s wrestling fans over the age of 10.
That takes talent. Not just the booking talent of Gabe Sapolsky (which was at its most brilliant at this point) but the talent and the conviction and the utter fucking belief in what he was doing. And Punk had that, in spades. Just like now, he blew the fans mind’s. He left them desperate to find out what would happen next. Asking how was this all going to play out? What was real, what wasn’t. Coming up with their own theories. Sitting for hours on end picking apart and mulling over every word of his promos. Just like now.
And why? Simple. They believed. They believed in CM Punk and they believed in the story he was telling. Just like now. He tapped into a seam of opinion in the fan base and he ran with it. In ROH it was leaving for the corporate waste land of WWE, leaving behind his ROH roots and taking the ROH title with him. Now, in 2011, he’s leaving the corporate waste land, tired, broken, sick of the grind of the machine. He’s going to take their Title and do whatever the hell he wants with it, where ever the hell he wants.
And that is why this angle is working so well. He’s made people believe and even more importantly, he’s made people care about the story he’s telling. That’s why he can make WWE Ice Cream bars trend on Twitter for hours with a single mention. That’s why he can get the crowd at Raw to chant ‘Colt Cabana’ when two weeks ago 90% of them had no idea who he was, let alone the fact he used to work in WWE! That’s why CM Punk is the hottest thing in wrestling right now and that’s why, as a long time fan, I have had a little faith restored in wrestling…sorry, sports action entertainment soap opera...God I hate Vince McMahon sometimes!
Still, credit to WWE for giving the man the chance to showcase his abilities like this. Credit to them for doing something they haven’t done in years – they took a risk. Even more credit to them for producing one of the best ‘go home’ PPV shows I’ve seen in YEARS on Monday night. They’ve made the fans believe because they’ve allowed a talent like Punk to do what he does best. They given him the platform to reproduce the awesome work he did in ROH on a global scale and it’s paying off in ways I bet WWE never believed it would. When the buy rate for Money in the Bank comes in they can thank Punk for personally delivering at least 50,000 extra buys that they wouldn’t have got without him and this angle.
I guess the big question is, where does he go from here? I’ll keep my guesses and fantasy booking to myself but I’m just preying WWE strike while the iron is hot because they’ve got a superstar on their hands who can breath life into that hulking monster of a company and bring fans like you and I back into the fold. Do I have faith they will? Not really, that’s the cynical smark in me talking…but I am desperate for him to be proved wrong!
One thing I do know for certain is that CM Punk has arrived as THE star in WWE and he’s shown in 3 weeks what a difference you can make to a stale and boring program with some conviction, a little bit of worked shoot awesomeness and an undeniable talent for professional wrestling storytelling – an art that has been lost in recent years.
If there was one man who could make WWE interesting again, it was CM Punk and he’s done just that. Imagine what else he could do if given the chance. Never mind The Summer of Punk, this could be the Era of Punk and that’s an era I’ll be happy to live in! For once in WWE, I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Well, I hope you guys enjoyed this opinionated introductory ramble and if you did please let the powers that be here at Wrestling’s Last Hope know by leaving some feedback. They might even ask me back!
You can also follow me on twitter @EFKDuckman where you’ll find me generally shooting the shit, talking wrestling and my other big passion, MMA. Thanks for reading, hope to see you around here again soon.