Welcome to the High Spot, Place to Be Nation’s weekly pro wrestling update. Steve Wille (@SteveWille34) will take you through the biggest story of the week in the world of wrestling, adding in a unique view to help put the story in perspective. Glenn Butler (@glenniebun) then takes a quick look at other important stories of the week. If you have any tips or story ideas, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
As I researched this week’s top story, CM Punk’s apparent departure (sabbatical?) from the WWE, I was amazed by the deluge of seemingly uninformed commentary. On the same day, I read reports from dirt sheets that Punk both left and did not leave the company due to Batista’s win at last weekend’s Royal Rumble. So, the High Spot sent our crack research team of highly trained monkeys and toddlers out to scour the Internet for facts relating to CM Punk’s departure from the WWE. Here’s what they came back with: CM Punk was not at Raw on Monday, and he’s pulled off house shows for the time being. Nothing more, nothing less. Yet the amount of opinions, opinions disguised as reporting and, in some cases, sheer vitriol was staggering.
Thumbing through the vast range of thoughts led to two general categories. One is that CM Punk has a right to be frustrated and that he’s mentally and physically drained from the last couple years. This viewpoint tends to regard WWE as an incapable, out-of-touch entity that’s screwing with the favorites of the older fan base. The other classification rails on Punk, citing his unprofessionalism and what they believe to be whining. Sadly, the rhetoric, even on the Place to Be Network chat pages which tend to be a more intelligent forum for discussion, quickly devolves to name-calling. Again, this debate occurs without any knowledge of conversations had between Punk, Vince McMahon or anybody else. This reminds me, to a lesser extent, of the recent “controversy” with Richard Sherman’s post-game diatribe after the NFC Championship. The immediate reaction from the Internet, calling Sherman a “thug,” amongst other less endearing terms, looked quite foolish after someone spent, say, five minutes of researching his impressive background.
So calm down, take a breath, and let’s see how this plays out. There’s yet to be any formal statement from either party within or outside of the television product. Nobody’s even sure how much truth there is to the situation or how much it will ultimately fold into the angle playing out on the screen. This is not to say that there can’t be dialogue and intelligent debate on the subject. Jim Ross released a well-written piece on the symbiosis between Punk and the WWE on his blog, and, a healthy respectful conversation from my colleagues at the cWo Blog of Doom can be found here. Also, keep in mind one more perspective. Within the last week, the two major fan favorites within the WWE have had a massive amount of mainstream media attention. There’s an old adage in business that any press is good press. To me, it seems quite coincidental that some of the biggest stories in wrestling in years broke right smack in the middle of perhaps the largest advertising blitz in company history, the launch of the WWE Network.
Here is the rest of the news for this week!
- Checkout Time – Picture it: the Hampton Inn in Emporia, Virginia, 5:45AM, January 1st 2014. There is, perhaps, no lonelier scene than this. The sleepy hamlet, known by this writer for its not-unfriendly motel staff and smooth asphalt on stretches of I-95, was about to take an unexpected detour…to the extreme. For at that time and in that place was reported the latest descent into the more unsavory parts of human experience by our old friend Matt Hardy; by the end of the imbroglio, both Hardy and his wife Reby Sky were arrested for assault and battery. (Their mug shots, for those interested in celebrity mug shots, are in the TMZ story. As an aside, a friend of a friend used to make coasters using celebrity mug shots as a decorative craft project; I was never quite sure if this was an ironic comment on celebrity culture or an unironic indulgence in it.) To really appreciate how sad this whole situation is, let’s set the scene with a little more background: Emporia is the second-least-populated city in the Commonwealth of Virginia; depending on which direction you’re driving on I-95, it is either the last stop in Virginia before you cross into North Carolina, or the first stop after you leave North Carolina, so the Hampton Inn where our fight took place is typically home to road-trippers and other such weary travelers. But consider the date – this is taking place on New Year’s Day, in the age of the Polar Vortex, and so not during a typical hot period for road trips. So one would presume that the itinerants populating the Hampton Inn in Emporia, Virginia at this point would mainly be an assortment of lonely drivers with various personal reasons for their travels and truckers trying to get their half-hour of sleep before jacking up on NoDoz (TM) and getting back on the road. These truckers and other guests – and leave us not forget the poor front-desk staffer who wound up with the graveyard shift on New Year’s – were particularly unlucky to be in the Hampton Inn in Emporia, Virginia on this New Year’s Day, as they received their rude violence-induced introduction to 2014 at 5:45 in the AM; even if most of them merely squinted bleary-eyed past the faded pink curtains in their rooms before disregarding the approaching police car, they must surely have been frustrated at the impossibility of getting back to sleep before it was time to grab some continental breakfast and get back on the road. Nobody in this situation was starting the year off right, most of all Hardy and Sky, who hopefully will be able to leave such conflicts behind them as thoroughly as most people leave the Hampton Inn in Emporia, Virginia.
- Big Things Popping – At the end of Impact this week, MVP was revealed as the new investor in TNA. It remains to be seen precisely what role and (pardon) impact he’ll have, but his time in WWE showed that at the very least he can be effective in the ring and in promos as long as his act doesn’t stay the same for too long and get stale. For a full view of the goings-on on Impact this week, look for Nate Milton’s recap this weekend.
- No! No! No! No! – As of press time, Daniel Bryan has still not won the Royal Rumble.