MR. TITO: 10 Years Ago, CM Punk’s Pipebomb Promo Threatened the Corporate WWE Structure

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10 years ago, CM Punk unleashed one of the greatest promos in Pro Wrestling history when he delivered the infamous “Pipebomb” speech following an R-Truth vs. John Cena Tables Match during Monday Night RAW at Las Vegas on June 27th, 2011. This promo could have made CM Punk into the next great Superstar draws but instead, Punk was seen as a threat to WWE’s corporate way of life.

2011 was a weird year… Throughout 2010-2011, WWE was trying multiple newer guys as Main Eventers but didn’t have much success. Sheamus and Miz, in particular, were pushed hard as top guys and rushed to the top, but fell flat on their faces with WWE fans. WWE, however, always had John Cena around and following Wrestlemania 27, he defeated the Miz to become WWE Champion again. The next experimental Main Eventer up was Alberto Del Rio whom the WWE wanted as WWE Champion to headline the September 2011 Mexico Tour. A few weeks after Wrestlemania 27, he was traded from Smackdown to the RAW brand to achieve this goal.

But then this “Pipebomb” happened.

During 2011, CM Punk’s contract was set to legitimately expire during July 2011. As you have seen for the past 7 years since he left the WWE, Punk is an honest guy… He was miserable with the WWE through early 2011 and was setting his sights on FREEDOM once his WWE contract expired. Throughout June 2011, the WWE was willing to let him go… In their minds, they tried to make him World Heavyweight Champion twice previously and felt that they got the most out of him. Little did they know that those title reigns were horribly executed thanks to the Money in the Bank cash-ins, an ironic mistake the WWE was about to make with Alberto Del Rio at SummerSlam 2011, and that Punk had much more left in the tank… If only the WWE would let him unleash.

For whatever reason on June 27th, 2011, the WWE actually gave CM Punk some freedom to say whatever on the microphone following the R-Truth vs. John Cena Tables Match on RAW. Even though CM Punk was on his way out due to an expiring contract, they gave him no scripts on what to say… Completely unheard of, as the new Comcast/NBC/Universal contract signed during the late 2000s and also the Benoit killings/death caused the WWE to cleanse most of its product intensely. Wrestling promos went from loosely scripted to controlled entirely and everything was now under a PG rating agreed upon by the WWE and Comcast. Corporate sponsors now had a greater say on what the WWE put on RAW, too.

For the WWE to give CM Punk absolute freedom on the microphone to say whatever is on his mind was completely unheard of… WWE probably felt that the John Cena vs. CM Punk match at Money in the Bank 2011 needed some extra “juice” and figured “why not”. Little did they know that CM Punk was going to make the most out of that opportunity.

And then, CM Punk delivered the Pipebomb… (CLICK HERE if you’ve never seen it, but please come back to the column afterward!)

This promo had everything… Nothing was safe, as Punk ranted on Cena being a corporate man, the Rock returning, people backstage being a problem, Triple H being a “doofus son in law”, Brock Lesnar’s exit, love for Paul Heyman, and Punk was even beginning to rant viciously on Vince McMahon directly until his microphone was cut off to end the promo and the show. Didn’t matter, the microphone cut off made the speech better because it proved that Punk was shooting and was about to get into a territory where even the WWE didn’t want to go.

Almost immediately, fans were buzzing about what CM Punk said… Then, wrestling peers heavily praised it, including Stone Cold Steve Austin who made a similar career defying promo with Austin 3:16. After that, major sports outlets covered the Pipebomb speech. All of a sudden, the WWE had a major unexpected hit on their hands but the problem was that CM Punk’s contract was about to legitimately expire through July 2011. If the WWE couldn’t re-sign him, he could have been a huge help to TNA Wrestling who was beginning to sharply decline under Dixie Carter. The TIMING of him returning to Ring of Honor would have been amazing, as Sinclair Broadcasting made an announcement that they were purchasing RoH on May 21st, 2011. Punk was a major flight risk to the WWE after that speech.

Up and until the Money in the Bank 2011 event, the WWE tried and tried to get CM Punk to sign a new WWE contract. He resisted all the way until the day of the Money in the Bank event. Provided that he had leverage, he signed a new deal that paid him well and allowed him to use “Cult of Personality” by Living Colour as his new theme song. Once the deal was in place, the booking for Money in the Bank was officially changed from John Cena going over the departing CM Punk to CM Punk winning the WWE Title in his hometown of Chicago. CM Punk vs. John Cena at MITB 2011 is one of the best WWE matches ever, particularly with the “sense of urgency” WWE portrayed about Punk winning in his potentially last WWE match. Punk won the match, despite the attempt of John Laurinaitis to interfere, and Money in the Bank 2011 ended with CM Punk exiting through the Chicago crowd and Vince McMahon being pissed that Punk left the WWE with the WWE title.

WWE just created a brand new Superstar, right? From Pipebomb to the 5-Star classic at Money in the Bank 2011, they potentially had their next big star on their hands.

Well, do you remember how I told you about WWE’s “corporate way of life”? What the Corporation wants, it gets.

As seen by CM Punk’s early exit from his 3 year WWE deal following Royal Rumble 2014, that new deal didn’t go so well.

See, what CM Punk did with the Pipebomb promo was open the eyes of wrestlers and fans. It proved that the WWE was on the wrong path with heavily scripting promos, controlling how wrestlers acted or performed, and how awful the PG Era was proving to be. CM Punk was a THREAT to what the Corporate WWE was trying to do to please its shareholders, Television Providers, and Corporate Sponsors. Punk had freedom on the microphone and that wasn’t going to happen for anyone else moving forward, including Punk on his new 3 year deal.

Slowly but surely, the WWE Corporation pulled back on CM Punk… First, they sabotaged his big WWE Title win at Money in the Bank by having the phony tournament to determine the new WWE Champion. Rey Mysterio won the tournament and then had to immediately defend it against John Cena. The Title vs. Title storyline was AWFUL between John Cena and the returning CM Punk. Then, of course, SummerSlam 2011 happened with Triple H as the referee, the controversial finish, and then Kevin Nash appearing to attack CM Punk to allow for Alberto Del Rio to win the WWE Title via Money in the Bank briefcase cash-in.

Anything involving CM Punk with Triple H was a disaster during August and September 2011… It was a complete burial by both Triple H, who was probably upset about the “doofus son in law” comments or Punk making fun of HHH’s movie career, and the Corporate WWE. Just watch the RAW segment between the two during September 2011. You can see CM Punk baffled by what Triple H is saying because HHH was shooting unscripted lines during the segment and contracted CM Punk was not allowed to respond. Same thing happened when Kevin Nash and CM Punk were cutting promos on each other and Kevin Nash went off the script multiple times (“working at Waffle House”).

And what did we have next?

– Triple H defeated CM Punk at Night of Champions 2011
– CM Punk was pinned in the Triple Threat match at Hell in a Cell 2011
– CM Punk then tagged up with Triple H to wrestle Miz/R-Truth at Vengeance 2011, of all people… Punk ate the pin for that match.

Of course, the idiot wrestling marks will tell me “but but but Punk won the title at Survivor Series 2011 and held the title until Royal Rumble 2013”. Sure, good for you on making that point.

How many Pay Per Views did Punk headline again as WWE Champion during late 2011 through early 2013?

And how many RAW events did Punk headline as WWE Champion during late 2011 through early 2013?

And what top names did he defeat as Champion?

By the way, WWE turned him HEEL during the late Summer of 2012 while he was freakin’ champion! Paul Heyman joined him. He was a babyface champion and they turned him heel! Think about how insane that is…

And he was due to lose that title during the late Fall 2012 but an injury kept him sidelined. Thus, he was able to remain Champion and lose the title to the Rock at Royal Rumble 2013.

Did I spell it out for you, correctly? The WWE Corporation BURIED CM Punk from the RAW after Money in the Bank 2011 through his lame WWE Title win at Survivor Series 2011. They neutered him and never let him be the unscripted CM Punk that we all loved from the “Pipebomb” speech.

Since June 27th, 2011, hardly anyone has been allowed to go unscripted like Punk did. What’s the end result? NOBODY IS GETTING OVER. Meanwhile, WWE programming is the “safe” product that Comcast and Corporate Sponsors want to sell to advertisers. However, WWE’s audience went from consistently drawing over 4 million viewers per TV show and consistently drawing 10,000 fans in attendance to struggling to retain 2 million viewers per TV show and struggling to draw 5,000.

Simply put, what CM Punk did with that “Pipebomb” speech was prove that the Corporate WWE style of wrasslin’ doesn’t work. Being PG rated, scripting everybody’s promos, and hiring failed comedy writers for your Creative Team is failing. CM Punk, on his own, came up with better material in one night on his own than what the 40 Members of the WWE Creative Team have ever thought of in the last 10 years. Punk was a threat to the new corporate induced wrestling and when he signed that new 3 year deal at Money in the Bank 2011, the WWE now had him under contract to humble him. What came next was 3 straight months of messing with him until the WWE gave up on Alberto Del Rio by November 2011. The damage was done and it was too late. Punk would be WWE Champion while hardly ever Main Eventing as champion and not being allowed to defeat anybody. For 2013, he couldn’t score a win over any big names. By 2014, he was gone and has NEVER returned to Pro Wrestling since.

All Elite Wrestling (AEW)… What the hell are you doing? Why haven’t you signed this man yet to a contract and give him whatever he wants? Seriously, morons, you sent him TEXT MESSAGES as “offers” to join AEW. Freakin’ Cody and the Young Bucks… That is NOT how you treat a professional. You wine and dine him, hear him out in a face to face meeting, and then discuss contractual terms. For Tony Khan, what are you doing? While AEW clearly hasn’t grown lately, your little deal with Impact Wrestling has totally sunk their battleship! 69,000 on AXS TV for a prime time show available in 50 million homes nationwide?

If AEW signs CM Punk, today, you will defeat the WWE. You’ll instantly climb to 1.5 million with AEW Dynamite with that star power and depending on how he is used, it could go higher.

And if you do sign CM Punk, AEW, don’t filter him… Just trust that he’ll say the right thing on the microphone and perform how you need him to perform inside the ring. He’s the best in the world, period, even if he is a little older now.

While going public on the Stock Market has its major advantage of supplying much more capital to a company, it has a price… You are effectively borrowing the public’s money for those who decide to become shareholders. Furthermore, you become fearful of any news headline that will create a public relations nightmare that could hurt the sentiment of the company. With the WWE being on television, they have to abide by a company’s Standards & Practices along with any Corporate Sponsor who is willing to air ads on a show. The Shareholders, the TV Networks, and the Sponsors all have a big say on how the WWE presents its content. WWE is fearful that they’ll get upset at what a wrestler says in an unscripted fashion, so thus they are controlling everything.

Meanwhile, the WWE product is dying… WWE’s inability to develop male wrestlers who can draw within NXT or the Performance Center is crushing them along with the protected booking on the main roster.

Had the WWE chosen a different path during 2011 to fully support CM Punk as their new top superstar, the wrestling business would be much different. Punk would have at least 2-3 good years as a top draw and then he begin putting over top younger talents like the 3 members of the Shield that he somehow beat together in one match during late 2013. He could have had more battles with Brock Lesnar. Did you guys see that damn SummerSlam 2013 match? One of the best matches that I have ever witnessed.

But the big catch is if the WWE appreciated CM Punk following Money in the Bank 2011 instead of tearing him down, the WWE would have learned from CM Punk’s success and began to allow wrestlers to cut their own promos without heavy scripts. If the WWE would have simply gone with what was trending at the time, it could have healed the damage done by the late 2000s and early 2010s. Maybe WWE could go to Comcast and show them what draws and maybe we wouldn’t have the PG Eera?

Instead, the WWE chose to tear down CM Punk during August 2011 through October 2011 in order to put their Corporate foot down.

Looking back, maybe CM Punk should have just walked… While WWE paid him a ton of money to remain for the next 3 years, Punk was miserable enough from his 2011-2014 WWE experience that he has never returned to Pro Wrestling again. TNA wrestling was dying but stealing Punk from WWE would be huge. Then, you have Ring of Honor who was just purchased by Sinclair. There was legitimate opportunity to join and be immediately pushed by an excited new buyer in Sinclair.

THAT SAID – I really loved CM Punk’s work during 2013. The QUALITY of Punk’s matches, specifically with the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 29 and then with Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam 2013. Both matches were potentially the best 2 matches of the 2010s, for me. If he would have really walked, then we wouldn’t have those great matches on tape to continually enjoy.

Come back to Pro Wrestling, CM Punk. It needs you and the fans need you. We’re tired of what WWE and AEW are presenting, along with the rest of the industry. It lacks STAR POWER particularly in the form of someone who can cut great promos. You have actual LEVERAGE because wrestling is declining due to a LACK of starpower and you have it. Not only get top dollar, but obtain Creative control over yourself as a stipulation for signing.

What a shame… Punk delivers one fo the greatest promos, ever, in the 6/27/2011 “Pipebomb” speech and the Corporate WWE refused to make money off of it. Then again, Vince McMahon didn’t “get” Austin 3:16 at first either but did eventually give into it. Vince McMahon sold his soul to the corporate structure and that’s why Punk wasn’t pushed to new heights following the Pipebomb speech. Instead, he was buried and the WWE screwed with is head so much that he has quit wrestling for good. What a shame.

So just chill… Until the next episode!

Comments and feedback are welcome. Follow and Tweet me @titowrestling or login in below to post comments.



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