Would you go to a five star restaurant, with a world class chef, and start eating the meal before it had cooked? The fans jumping down the throat of World Wrestling Entertainment's current WWE title picture are doing just that. It is clear that this year the WWE has a long term plan to Wrestlemania. Summer Slam has always been the kick off event for what would be considered the “WWE Season”. What happened last night, and over the last few weeks, are the opening scenes in a story that is going to twist and turn through Survivor Series, get shaken up at the Royal Rumble, and finally hit resolution in Miami. All great stories have a myriad of characters with their own tales. After last night there are now options for those characters.
One of the hardest things to do is get the title off a white hot wrestler without damaging their popularity. CM Punk has become bigger than the WWE Title. He would wear it around and yet more people would be excited to see CM Punk the man than CM Punk the champion. A similar thing happened to Goldberg in WCW. The promotion decided to put the belt on him and couldn't find a way to get it off. Goldberg and his streak had become bigger than the title. Surprisingly Kevin Nash was involved in that story too.
For a talent like CM Punk the WWE title, and a healthy run as champion, will always be there. Right now he may be the hottest he will ever be in his career. He has the best mic skills. He is probably the best in ring talent. He has that “it” factor only seen in a few talents. He deserves to be in a generation defining storyline. He deserves to shoot for the stars, something being WWE champion wouldn't have allowed him to do. When a talent doesn't have the restriction of a title then that talent has more options.
What CM Punk, John Cena, and Alberto Del Rio did last night was set the table for the next few months. Alberto Del Rio is a fresh champion that let's the belt add to his character instead of CM Punk, where the character added to the belt. While along the way he will face John Cena for the title, ADR can add a jolt of life into the title picture without monopolizing the company's #1 talent. Alberto will face Cena along the way because, as Former WWE Writer David Lagana pointed out during a podcast for www.iwantwrestling.com, the match between Rock and Cena at Wrestlemania has to be for the WWE title. Does that mean Cena has to be champion along the way? No, he can probably wait until the Royal Rumble to do that. This allows for a great run as champion for Alberto Del Rio, and it protects the title & Cena from getting stale again. Plus the end of the actual match last night leaves the door open for Cena/Punk 3 down the road, as Punk on PPV has yet to defeat Cena clean.
With the title protected, and Cena turning towards The Rock, CM Punk is left to build his legacy. People will compare everything Punk does to how Austin came about during the attitude era. Punk has an advantage over Austin. His feud with WWE Corporate isn't with an elderly man with no real ring experience, but a future hall of fame multiple time world champion who on a dime can deliver a Wrestlemania classic. HHH has moved out of active in ring duty but it doesn't mean he can't dust off the boots a few times a year for the right occasion. The same goes for Kevin Nash, Sean Waltman, and Shawn Michaels. I wish I could put Scott Hall on that list.
What fans saw last night is hopefully a beginning to what might be the biggest angle in WWE history. Over the last few weeks CM Punk has lit the fuse on what is the Work-Shoot era, as seen by the comments made by Cena during his entrance last night, “In Gimmick”. One of the biggest gossip pieces in wrestling lore is the Kliq. There is no better way to kick off the work-shoot era than having the new face of the WWE, CM Punk, go toe to toe with the Kliq, and all their backstage baggage. It's like giving a pyromaniac a fist full of matches and an endless supply of gasoline.
As we go to Wrestlemania this storyline, if this is the direction they are going, has so much to offer. There's the ability to do a Team Punk vs. Team Kliq at Survivor Series. There's the ability to put CM Punk in the ring with Kevin Nash, who if teamed with good talent can still deliver good stories. CM Punk can even tear the house down with X-pac, who showed at Chikara he can still hang. There is even a match up looming with HHH, but this storyline may give fans the Wrestlemania match to end all Wrestlemania matches: CM Punk vs. Shawn Michaels. Everything is better with options as all these matches can't happen with a WWE title in the mix.
Last night the WWE left us with questions. The WWE left us confused. Most importantly they left us with options. As fans we screamed for World Wrestling Entertainment to give us more developed long term story lines. Now it seems that the WWE is doing that, but fans lash out because they aren't given short term satisfaction. CM Punk isn't champion, but that doesn't mean he can't wrestle. He and the rest of the men involved in last night's finish are cooks making a stew. Now we as fans need to let it simmer, and enjoy when it's ready on April 1st, 2012.