First and foremost, I'm very happy for Christian, now probably known as "Christian Cage" again. He was announced as the "big surprise" & "future Hall of Famer" according to Paul Wight and the "great surprise" according Tony Khan at the AEW Revolution 2021 Pay Per View. Good for Christian, as he's 47 years old and will turn 48 later this year. It's cool to see someone late into their 40s still making a solid living in the wrestling business.
As good as Christian is and he'll give us good to great matches here and there... Moxley vs. Christian, Omega vs. Christian, MJF vs. Christian, Cody vs. Christian. I'd suggest Sting vs. Christian but they've already wrestled on TNA Pay Per Views 13 years ago. The problem is that Christian, with all due respect, wasn't a top drawing WWE performer by any means and he was just a solid contributor for TNA wrestling. WWE didn't even try to push him as a Main Eventer until the early 2010s on the Smackdown brand and it was clearly the B-Show of the WWE back then.
Again, I want to emphasize this right now... I'm HAPPY for Christian. He's still getting paid good money at his age. The expectations placed on him, however, were way too high. "Big Surprise", "Future Hall of Famer", and "Great Surprise" and then to be revealed on a $50 to $60 Pay Per View? AEW used this surprise gimmick to steal some Pay Per View revenue from fans but in the end, on top of the "exploding" ring, they've done long-term damage by revealing that another upper midcarder from the WWE has joined AEW. And not a scorned one, either. There is no "heat" of Christian joining AEW, as if WWE misused him. Nope, WWE got the maximum out of him.
It's funny, because World Championship Wrestling (WCW) was ripped hard for having OLDER stars... Did you know that most of the WCW wrestlers during the late 1990s were YOUNGER than Christian? As old as Hulk Hogan looks, he was 42 years old when he joined the New World Order during mid-1996. Think about that... Randy Savage was 43 years old when he fought in that match against the Outsiders at Bash at the Beach 1996. The only guy older than Christian during the late 1990s within WCW was Ric Flair and just barely. Certainly, the use of modern technology and medicines keeps older guys from looking and performing older... Still... WCW mocked was being a "retirement home" for wrestlers and YET All Elite Wrestling is allowed to sign a 47 year old Christian, a 49 year old Paul Wight, and a 61 year old Sting. How does that make sense, Internet? Just another double standard...
While I have a moment, I can easily mock the "Exploding Barbed Wire" match because it ties to this "Big Surprise" letdown. First of all, why on earth was this match even booked?!? Every fan watching this shows KNOWS that wrestlers aren't willing to risk their lives for real explosives involved in a match. Thus, anything that you attempt to do with special effects will be a letdown. Why can't Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega just have a REGULAR FREAKIN' MATCH instead of always needing a gimmick? After all, Omega was winning "Match of the Year" awards plus many 5, 6, and 7 star matches without special gimmicks. Can't a wrestling ring with ropes be enough for 2 trained and experienced wrestlers to perform? This BAD BOOKING should have never happened in the first place and now AEW officially has their "Shockmaster Moment". You can tell because AEW is aggressively attacking YouTube and Social Media for Copyright strikes!
Picture this... A wrestling fan hears the hype of a "Big Surprise" and also the crazy gimmick of "Exploding Barbed Wire" and then decides to part $50 to $60 from his wallet. We're still on the heels of an Economic Recession (or downturn in the economy) thanks to COVID-19. Money is tight right now but yet they are a big enough wrestling fan that they feel it is worth buying AEW Revolution. Then, Christian is announced as the "Big Surprise" and Kenny Omega/Jon Moxley give us a fireworks show instead of an exploding ring. Do you really think that this fan would EVER give AEW $50 to $60 of his hard earned cash, let alone their TIME?
What a disaster... Tony Khan needs to evaluate his own strengths and weaknesses, and then start talking to Jim Ross more often on how a wrestling promotion should operate. What a disappointing joke.
Let's move on to the REAL STORY of this AEW Revolution Pay Per View...
It's not so much that the "Big Surprise" was Christian, it's just that it wasn't CM Punk, John Cena, or Brock Lesnar. THAT, right there, is the issue... You cannot build up hype with a "surprise" to be revealed at a Pay Per View and then deliver a 47 upper midcarder formerly from WWE and who wrestled in TNA over 10 years ago. In my opinion, they should have NEVER announced any surprise whatsoever and just let Christian appear at the Pay Per View as a surprise. Then, people are actually shocked by it because they had NO EXISTING EXPECTATIONS!!!!
The trio of wrestlers that I mentioned, in my opinion, are the only 3 "industry moving" wrestlers out there right now. If they would have joined AEW, it would have caused a ripple effect that could cause a momentum shift in the business. Obviously, John Cena is in good with the WWE and is forever grateful to them. He would never betray Vince McMahon as long as he's still alive and running that company (might be different if he weren't in charge). Then you have Brock Lesnar. I highly doubt that AEW could pay Brock Lesnar $5 million per year for just 4 matches along with limited television appearances. They would want more and as I keep saying, the EVP salaries are in the way of really buying a Free Agent.
But the guy that All Elite Wrestling (AEW) could easily sign, if they wanted to, was CM Punk. He has zero loyalty to the WWE and is in fact against them. His 2014 exit was rough and then his Podcast with his former friend Colt Cabana was rougher. Punk has major heat with Triple H and that will forever keep him out of the WWE unless Vince McMahon does something drastic to demote Triple H or create a contract for CM Punk where Triple H can't mess with him. Thus, Punk is totally free and available to sign with AEW if they want him. He has mentioned it a few times that he'd consider returning to wrestling if (a) the money was right and (b) creative was right.
Once again, however, AEW is getting CHEAP with CM Punk and they are too protective of their EVPs to ever submit any Creative power to Punk if they signed him.
At age 42, there is still time to sign someone still in their athletic prime for Pro Wrestling and someone with arguably the BEST promo cutting ability in the business that you can hire right now. Could you imagine him unscripted? Yeah, the "Pipebomb" incident... Imagine having that every night in AEW because one of their faults yet bonuses of being in AEW is that nobody scripts promos. To a novice, which is most of their roster when speaking, that is difficult... But to a pro like CM Punk who was cutting killer promos before joining the scripted WWE, he would crush it.
The facts are all there about CM Punk to show what a significant draw that he is... When Punk was with the WWE, they consistently drew over 4 million viewers with Punk and Cena on top of the ticket (this was before Lesnar blew up). Since 2014, WWE RAW has been consistently under 4 million viewers and through 2021, consistently under 2 million. Better yet for AEW, CM Punk is anti-WWE and legitimately that way. He torched that bridge as he is the ONLY ONE who went after Triple H, whereas everyone else LACKS BALLS to criticize HHH out of fear of who shall be in charge of the WWE in the future. Punk didn't care and he torched Triple H like no other and probably ever will be. THAT is why he cannot return to the WWE, even if Vince McMahon tried to appear with open arms. The second Vince retires or even passes away, Punk will get buried again by Triple H.
What does AEW have to lose? They are consistently under 850,000 and they need special gimmicks to get above 900,000 on occasion. They THINK that they'll grow without NXT as their competition but as I elaborated in my LAST COLUMN, AEW Dynamite and NXT have a positive statistical relationship in that their numbers consistently move in the same direction (both up or both down). AEW's numbers benefit by having a 2nd option because having CHOICE keeps the fans engaged to watch on Wednesday night. Little to they realize that by Wednesdays soon, fans will be worn out after watching 3 hours of RAW on Monday, NXT and Impact for 2 hours on Tuesday... Imagine if we had a Pay Per View week? That is Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday before deciding to spend time watching Pro Wrestling for a FOURTH night in a row with AEW Dynamite. Furthermore, without NXT on the USA Network, the focus for the wrestling fan is just on AEW Dynamite and if it sucks one night, you don't have that 2nd wrestling show to flip the channel. Thus, they'll lose that fan.
But what better way to BOOST AEW Dynamite's viewership in April, when NXT reportedly moves to Tuesdays, by signing CM Punk to not just a deal, but a broader investment as the new EVP of All Elite Wrestling. That's right... Throw the farm at the man... Punk is highly creative and not only will this give him creative freedom for his character, but allow him as a no-nonsense veteran, to pass down his knowledge to the younger wrestlers. Then, he could work with someone like Miro to have a feud and matches like he once had with Samoa Joe during the Ring of Honor days. Miro needs help, as the current EVPs and Tony Khan are doing him no favors.
There is still time to sign him... Having Punk appear on the first loner Wednesday Night AEW Dynamite would have such an impact on Pro Wrestling... It would be HUGE... Don't forget, the first ever WCW Nitro during 1995 went unopposed to Monday Night RAW and what did WCW Nitro do at the end of the program? They revealed that Lex Luger had joined them. They didn't hype a "big surprise", but he just appeared during the Main Event match and then he got into the ring to directly challenge Hulk Hogan for his WCW World Title. That was HUGE and immediately told wrestling fans that "WCW was for real".
And I know what I'll hear... "Well, he failed in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)". Sure he did... But do you realize how HARD it is to compete in UFC? His first fight was during September 2016 just before he turned 38 years old. His next fight was during June 2018 when he was 39 going on 40. You SHOW ME MMA fighters who successfully started their careers in their LATE 30s. In hindsight, it was a big roll of the dice for UFC, but at the same time, how many Pro Wrestlers have "former UFC Fighter" on their resumes? Hardly anyone, FACT... Hell, most don't even have any combat experience whatsoever. The fact is that CM Punk was popular enough for Dana White to invest money into him and place Punk on legitimate Pay Per Views. That is more of an honor than a black mark on his career resume.
But as you can see with others with supposed MMA experience, they struggle in Pro Wrestling because they don't have what CM Punk has... Great communications skills, great personality, and actual charisma to connect fans to the promos or action in the ring. THAT is what CM Punk has and where is is the best in the business. Nobody on WWE or AEW's roster could even match Punk on microphone skills. Not even close.
While we're at it, offer a deal to AJ Lee... She doesn't have to take bumps if the injury concerns remain for her. Be an authority figure! Link CM Punk, NO other female can get on a microphone and speak like her. She has an amazing personality and excellent communication skills. Pro wrestling LACKS talkers right now and that is part of the reason why Pro Wrestling is struggling right now. Great talkers help fill the shows and also play with fans' emotions to dedicate their passion towards a feud or a match. With the WWE forcing scripted lines and AEW just all over the map, there is just nothing connecting wrestling fans right now.
The FACT is what when CM Punk delivered that "Pipebomb" speech on June 27th, 2011, it kept RAW's Summer numbers above a 3.0 rating... Then, as you look at the numbers from October and onward, after the SummerSlam 2011 screwjob (Alberto cashing in MITB) and Triple H burying him in their match, RAW was under 3.0 in the ratings which was much different than seen in prior years. RAW could hold that 3.0 rating throughout the year. But then you look at Pay Per View numbers. Money in the Bank 2011 drew an additional 26,000 buyers. Of course, what did the WWE do after that major even where CM Punk won the WWE Title? Well, created another WWE Title and held a tournament for it... The ridiculousness of Title vs. Title at SummerSlam 2011 was a disaster and reports were swirling that Alberto Del Rio was going to walk out of that event as WWE champion "no matter what". It hurt that event...
BUT, WWE could have redeemed itself simply by having Triple H and Kevin Nash PAY for their actions at SummerSlam... But no, it didn't happen... As I stated in a famous column where everybody attacked me for it, Triple H BURIED CM Punk at September 2011's Night of Champions Pay Per View and the burial continued with CM Punk taking the pin at Hell in a Cell for the Triple Threat with Cena/Del Rio and then eating the pin when actually teaming up with Triple H to LOSE to Miz and R-Truth. Think about that for a second... CM Punk had to (a) team up with Triple H, a supposed sworn enemy, and then (b) get pinned against the team of Miz and R-Truth whom the WWE had nothing for at that point.
By Survivor Series 2011, it was apparent that Del Rio was a BUST as WWE Champion and then the WWE tried to "right their wrong" about CM Punk by making him champion. But it was too late... Damage was already done. And many will try to state "well, he was WWE Champion for over a year" and then I'll respond by saying HOW MANY Pay Per Views did he headline as Champion? How many RAW shows did he headline as champion? He was hardly ever in the main event as WWE Champion!!!!! On top of that, WWE flipped him into a heel in the middle of his WWE Title run and mostly used him to get the title on the Rock for John Cena vs. Rock #2 at Wrestlemania 29. 2013 saw CM Punk lose to the Rock twice, lose to Kane, lose to the Undertaker, and then lose to Brock Lesnar. By early 2014, he lost to Roman Reigns. Gee, no wonder why CM Punk walked out after Royal Rumble 2014.
CM Punk IS THE GUY that All Elite Wrestling should roll out the red carpet and sign. Whatever you want, Punk, it is yours. Let's CRUSH the WWE together should be their thoughts. After all, WWE screwed Cody Rhodes out of many of his prime years, right? They never gave the Young Bucks a thought. Kenny Omega was in the WWE Developmental System and he hated it at the Deep South Wrestling facility. They didn't send him to Ohio Valley Wrestling... If Tony Khan wants to be the #1 promotion, he can ask his $8 Billion net worth Dad for just $2-3 Million per year to sign a LEGITIMATE superstar to put them over the top.
The FACT is that CM Punk, specifically the 2011 version of him, is the closest thing that we'll ever get another wrestler catching "lightning in a bottle" like Steve Austin did during 1996-1999. Again, it's all about TALKING INTO THE MICROPHONE and nobody does it better than CM Punk.
I like Christian and I have 22+ documented years where I'm singing the guy's praises in my columns. Nothing against Christian, whatsoever... But Christian was not a Main Event elite type wrestler. He was a dependable upper midcarder who could have solid matches with anyone. In my opinion, both TNA and WWE got the best out of him and he's someone that most fans respect... But were fans ever attempting to fill the arena just to see Christian? Not really... He was never the tip top guy in any promotion, often well outside of the Top 5 drawing guys.
CM Punk is still a celebrity outside of Pro Wrestling, even after ditching it since Royal Rumble 2014. He's a proven merchandise draw, as his shirts sold well with adult fans in particular. And like Steve Austin from 1994 during his WCW years, the WWE screwed with CM Punk and limited his potential to be a bigger star. Give Punk a chance to flourish in a promotion where he has freedom to be CM Punk, and he'll explode.
The ball is in your court, AEW... SIGN CM Punk before April 2021 when your show becomes the only wrestling show on Wednesday Night. If not, you'll soon realize how much NXT helped your show draw extra fans for Wednesday nights by having a CHOICE between 2 shows. By Wednesday, fans will have endured a possible Pay Per View on Sunday, 3 hours of RAW on Monday, Impact/NXT on Tuesday... Do you really want burned out wrestling fans tuning into AEW Dynamite on their potential 4th day of wrestling viewership? No, you want to draw them in with a MAJOR Superstar like CM Punk.
Otherwise, it's going to get very lonely on Wednesday nights and fans will get bored of your current roster of wrestlers.
Think of it this way... AEW Revolution only delivered a former WWE upper midcarder as their "big surprise" signing and the "Explosion" at the end was such a DUD... This is AEW's WCW Uncensored 1996 moment where that "Doomsday Cage Match" was such an utter disaster. This caused WCW to rethink their storylines and push for more reality based programming. The end result was the New World Order concept and then turning Hulk Hogan heel.
Signing CM Punk to erase all of the laughter and memes created at your own expense right now. We would know that things are being taken a little more seriously now at AEW if Punk were signed.
Otherwise, enjoy the downturn because AEW Revolution 2021 was a DISASTER as many wrestling fans took a chance with their hard earned $50 to $60 cash and got BURNED hard by this show's disappointments.
Sign CM Punk. Don't hesitate, show no mercy.
If you sign CM Punk, you'll defeat the WWE. Period. End of story. Their Developmental System is NOT producing new superstars and nobody on their existing roster can draw except maybe Roman Reigns right now (but he's a heel).
If not, we'll continue LAUGHING AT YOU regarding AEW Revolution 2021.
SIGN CM PUNK NOW, AEW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So just chill... Until the next episode!
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