Sunday, April 27, 2008

Salvation in the form of . . . . Steven Regal

I don't know about my professional wrestling contemporaries but I was taken aback by the culmination of the King of the Ring tournament and very grateful for it. As a seasoned wrestling fan I remember Lord Regal from days long past. And truly he is a character and performer that deserves the hall of fame without question. As I watched my choices fall one by one and had the unpleasant realization that it was going to either be CM Punk or Steven Regal, I knew without doubt that I wanted Regal. But was still pleasantly surprised that the WWE gave it to us.

I'm not an anti-CM Punkist. I believe that one day he will be a very accomplished performer and time spent on developing him is not wasted. My concern is that he will become a victim of too much too soon, or Lesnered as the case maybe. The WWE is in a lot of ways so very desperate for the younger generation of performers to assume the very big shoes that are about to be left open in coming years, that I think they are inadvertedly falling into the Brady trap. Which is the idea that you can take a young quarterback put him out there and have instant success. Not every young talented quarterback is Tom Brady, and not every young talented wrestler is Randy Orton. I realize that for gestation period concerns, CM Punk is not truly as new to this scene as he may seem. Unfortunately as his workload has gone up, there have been instances that have looked frighteningly similar to Tito Ortiz gassing out after the first round. Clumsily and sometimes sloppy ring work, a lackluster performance and a lack of commitment to hard sells and story while performing in the ring. When was the last time you saw Matt Hardy beat red and breathing heavy after 3 minutes of ring time? I believe my concern is well placed.

I openly questioned the decision to make CM Punk the new Money in the Bank at Wrestlemania. Let's be honest, Edge has wrecked that spot for anyone that comes after him. It will be very hard to fill the very heavy shoes of the Rated R Superstar who made Money in the Bank the sleazy opportunistic bacchanalia that it was always meant to be. I believe Ken Kennedy would've made it his own, John Morrison would've made it positively decadent and even Shelton Benjamin would've lived it up a little. The issue is that Money in the Bank was test driven by Rob Van Dam, his casual stoner ideology towards it made the story fly. Then Edge got a hold of it and the whole concept developed flesh and bones to become a living breathing presence. Now Money in the Bank has to be an aggressively talented heel, unless there is a face performer strong enough to reassign it. One day that face maybe CM Punk. But right now, he just isn't ready for that large of a task.

So I was relieved when Punk tapped out to Regal. With there being a question as to how well of a Money in the Bank he can actually be, adding the reintroduction of King of the Ring would’ve been devastating. Considering that the last King of the Ring was the always increasingly en fuego King Booker and Sharmell combo that brought back the original insanity of the Macho King and the Sensational Queen Sherri, this was not a job for a rookie. Only a seasoned veteran like Lord Regal could ever hope to reign in and supplant the legacy left by the last great King of the Ring and his unruly queen.

Being that I love the sport, the business, the performance, whatever you want to call it. I'm hoping that CM Punk will surprise me and make Money in the Bank his own. I'm hoping that this enables him to attain the status that the majority of fans seem to want for him and the organization wants for him. In the end perhaps these conditioning issues that I noticed are the real reason why he was de-throned so quickly for a ring warrior like Chavo Guerrero. ECW is a tough gig these days. Easily the least watched of the WWE television programming. This is not the time to present a champ that may not be up to snuff in some capacity. Hopefully sometime soon I can celebrate with the fan base the arrival of someone who can truly carry being the straight-edged hardcore Mr. Money in the Bank.