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Monday, June 22, 2015

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Retrospective Roundtable: CM Punk's Pipebomb

Today, we take a look at the pipebomb promo from CM Punk. Hard to believe it's been almost 4 years exactly since it occurred. We gathered the team to discuss the impact and how it changed the business, or didn't. Do we have everyone's attention now?

Alright, let me make this perfectly clear before I even begin my write up for this, I do not like CM Punk at all, because of the way he handles himself and I have a problem with a few of his actions towards the end of his WWE Career. With that being said, writing this presents a conflict of interest on my end.

However, being that we are approaching the 4th anniversary of the CM Punk “Pipebomb” promo that happened in Las Vegas on June 27, 2011, we here at EOTR have decided to write a collective piece about it. The pipebomb in itself was very good because it changed the way (at least for a while) that WWE did business and forced them (again for awhile) to do something different.

The Pipebomb to me is memorable to for a few reasons, but they probably fit outside of the norm of why other people find it important.  First off, it capped off a terrible episode of Monday Night RAW where John Cena faced R-Truth in a Tables match (for some reason because yay random stipulations that mean absolutely nothing) and R-Truth ACTUALLY beat John Cena (yeah you read that right).

From there, CM Punk went up to the top of the stage with a microphone and proceeded to deliver a great “Worked Shoot” promo. It wasn’t a legit shoot at all, but it was presented in that sense, although everything he said within the promo was pre-approved, whether you want to believe it or not.

This was the start of CM Punk’s Summer of Punk (in WWE) storyline that WWE dropped the ball on big time because they rushed the entire thing. The promo had an impact no doubt, but if the angle was handled the way it should have been, it would have had a bigger impact within the business than it does today. One of the most symbolic things in the promo from my recollection though is the choice of shirt that CM Punk wore. Instead of wearing one of his own, he decided to wear a Stone Cold Steve Austin shirt. So, as I look at it, this “Pipebomb” was CM Punk’s version of the King Of The Ring Austin 3:16 promo if you will, but it didn’t have much as a lasting effect as Austin’s did in my opinion.

Plus where is CM Punk now? Oh yeah, at home on his couch waiting until sometime in 2016 to get his ass handed to him by some Jabroni in the UFC. So while the “Voice Of The Voiceless” claimed to be the voice of the fans, he took his ball and went home and left us the fans without a voice so to speak.

The Pipebomb. Heard all over the wrestling world. Heard all over the sports world. There's very little moments like this that bridge between kayfabe and reality in wrestling. CM Punk was a skillful but very frustrated wrestler signed to Vince McMahon’s sports entertainment creation, World Wrestling Entertainment. Punk was one of those professional wrestlers with a chip on his shoulder. All he wanted was to prove that he was the BEST. IN. THE. WORLD. The WWE had other plans. Poor booking and missed opportunities caused a lot of frustration and loss of passion for the competitor. Though at times he had very few sparks of greatness, as the feud with Jeff Hardy in 2009 comes to mind. The Straight Edge Society as well. However, the bad outweighed the good unfortunately. Fast forward to the summer of 2011, a rebellious CM Punk made his way up the ramp after costing Cena a match against Ron Killings(R-Truth) armed with a microphone and a silver tongue. Punk would express his anger to the company and career he once had extreme passion for. Punk’s Pipebomb was a wake up call. A wake up to call to a wrestling company that had lost its way since turning PG in 2008. Punk was voicing the frustration of not just himself, but most of the hardcore wrestling fans, especially the ones who grew up in the Attitude Era. Looking back on things, the Pipebomb didn't really change much. It did give more wrestlers instead of “sports entertainers” more opportunities. Daniel Bryan is a perfect example of that. It changed the perspective of what a wrestler is and should be. It was the launching pad for the new generation who got tired of Super Cena. If it wasn't for Punk’s Pipebomb, I don't think a lot of great indy wrestlers would've came to the WWE. From Rollins to Devitt, Punk helped with that. The Pipebomb will be talked about for years upon years as one of the most realistic moments in a sport that is often looked at as “staged”.

Even though things went south between CM Punk and WWE, you can't deny the impact that promo had on wrestling. Punk sat Indian-style on that stage and said everything that every true wrestling fan was thinking. I dare say it opened the door to the "reality era," by sparking that desire to allow the talent, not the writers, to input more reality into their on-screen personas. That promo in Vegas not only put Punk in the driver's seat, but made WWE watchable and tolerable again. We had a bit of the second coming of Stone Cold, just a pissed off guy who did things his way, no matter what the powers that be had to say about it. June 27, 2011 was a much-needed breath of fresh air.

The CM Punk "Pipebomb" promo was the thing that got me back into wrestling. Unlike, say, a Russo work, it felt legitimately real. There was gravity behind it. Here's this guy on WWE speaking of going to NJPW and ROH on live TV. A top heel, with possession of the belt, about to leave the company WITH the belt and defend it elsewhere (a la Flair kind of did during his bounce between WCW, NWA, and WWF era of the late 80s, early 90s)? It was pure insanity and even TMZ and others got into the fray. Not too often do you get promos that send a chill down your spine years later. "Hard Times," "...with a tear in my eye," "Austin 3:16," "Pipebomb." These are all classic promos that have earned their place in wrestling lore.

Now, all the matches from the WWE Summer of Punk didn't exactly pay off (Punk vs. HHH leading into HHH vs. Nash, anyone?). And the feud, as many tend to in WWE these days, fizzled and went into the world of the SMH-worthy. But, when Punk dropped Colt Cabana's name, made it between Phil Brooks and Paul Levesque, and blew Vince the kiss as MITB 2011, it was one of the first times I'd legitimately marked out in years and one of the first times in the same amount of time that I found myself tuning into RAW. I'm still waiting for my gotdamn ice cream bars...although I acknowledge that I'll probably never get them.  



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