What is your stance on the CM Punk Chants?

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CM Punk Champion

It is no secret that chants for former WWE champion CM Punk have been shouted loud and clear in 2017, with the name recently been blared during certain segments on Monday Night Raw.

Much discussion and debate has risen as a result and whilst some are against the chanting see for example, What Culture’s video on the matter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHTfiXrUaRc others sit on the opposing side of the fence and are unfased by the noise of the fans in attendance.

What I was wondering though is how do people at home feel about it in general? Do you like or hate the CM Punk stuff? Or do is not bother you either way? I thought it best to present the case for and against, and try to allow everyone to discuss their standpoint accordingly.

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Prologue

99% of wrestling followers know exactly who the man in question is, but just in case you’ve been living under a wrestling rock the past 10 years, or you’ve not been into WWE for too long, let me quickly run down a brief overview of CM Punk.

Punk was a massive indie star before arriving in WWE and as a result, he almost always had the backing of the fans as he broke onto the biggest scene before exploding into the biggest star in the business after his infamous pipebomb promo.

After that he was on top of the world and held the WWE Championship for a massive 434 days, but after missing out on his dream of being in the main event of Wrestlemania to the Twice in a Lifetime matches between The Rock and John Cena, he left the company the day after the 2014 Royal Rumble. He was banged up and worn out but even in leaving his action paved the way for Daniel Bryan to take centre stage at Wrestlemania XXX, one of the finest moments in WWE history.

Because of his amazing promos, his fantastic matches (my personal favourites being against Jeff Hardy, Brock Lesnar and many times against John Cena) and his stratospheric popularity people want to remember him in WWE. A lot of people would also consider him their favourite wrestler, and rightly so, he was/is one of the best in the world.

Chants have really picked up in volume recently however as a fake AJ Lee was bought out on a dark segment at Raw, as part of the film WWE and The Rock are making based on Paige. During this thunderous rendition, Rocky called Punk and left him a voicemail, Punk duly responded with a grateful tweet: https://twitter.com/cmpunk/status/833905165145145344?lang=en

Since then they have continued; very notably so in segments involving the Raw women, Stephanie McMahon, Seth Rollins and HHH, which leads up to this discussion, what do you think about people chanting CM Punk? And why perhaps, do people continue to chant his name?

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For

Everything mentioned in the above introduction shows exactly why people want to chant for their hero, and since they’ve paid their hard-earned money for ticket to the show, why the fuck not? So long as no offence is being dished out and no harm is being done to anyone, then the fans are free to enjoy shouting about their favourite wrestler, whether they’re still with the company or not.

If you’ve ever been to a wrestling show of any kind you’ll also know that shouting together as a huge audience is really, really fun. This might not always project through the television screen but by and large people are having a laugh and getting involved with the show, rather than trying to kybosh it as some may feel.

Crowds also often chant CM Punk in the direction of heel authority figures, namely Stephanie, Hunter and even a while ago, Vince. Seemingly the Punk chant represents a sort of ‘fuck you’ to the authority, which is exactly what the man stood for both in the sense of kayfabe and reality; personally I find that all quite amusing and enjoyable, especially when it elicits a response such as Stephanie’s recent classic, ‘if you could keep that up for 2 minutes and 15 seconds, you’d last one second longer than Punk did.’

Oh and finally in this section, do you actually need me to explain why Chicago will forever chant for Punk after gifting them the best wrestling moment the city has ever seen? Nope, didn’t think so, cheers.

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Against
Here’s where things could get a little spicy… There are seemingly 3 primary reasons why people dislike the CM Punk chanting. Irrelevance, trying to make the show about the crowd rather than what is going on in-ring and, most pertinently, throwing off segments.

Firstly, the point of irrelevance. CM Punk, fantastic as he was, hasn’t been seen in WWE since the Royal Rumble in 2014 and with his name being all but blacklisted by the company, he doesn’t currently have any place on Raw and Smackdown. Hence then why people do not see the point in the fans in attendance shouting the former champion’s name throughout arenas; it’s seen in a similar vein to the ‘what’ or former ‘ECW’ chants as it is just unnecessary.

Show goers trying to make their presence felt at home and almost attempting to make themselves appear more important than the wrestlers is something that has raged on for a while, especially in NXT since Owens labelled them ‘the John Cena of wrestling fans.’ Some of the Punk chants have the same effect and whilst, as mentioned, it is fun to get a reaction, it can go too far and feel like the crowd just want to take over the show instead; making it very tiresome for many.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, throwing off and even ruining segments is something that really has got under the skin of fans when the CM Punk chants begin. Rollins’ segment a few weeks back really suffered as while he was giving an emotional speech the crowd seemed to ignore him and chanted for Punk instead. It took the shine off what was a crucial moment in the lead up to Mania and that really isn’t cool.

Conclusion

So I pose the question to you all again, what is your stance on the CM Punk chants? Do you mind them? Do you hate them?

Personally, I’m of the volition that it is all fine if the timing is right. During Steph’s promos it pretty fun because she bites back, but when Bayley is speaking or when someone like Rollins is stating something really important, Punk chants are something we could really do without. There really is a time and place for everything, even Punk chants.

Bold Predictions for the next 12 months in Pro-Wrestling

A hell of a lot can change in 12 months. This time last year AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura were both still main eventers in New Japan, Seth Rollins hadn’t got injured yet and the Cruiserweight Classic was something that wrestling fans could only dream of. Now, a year on from October 2015, all of the above has changed; Nakamura and Styles are NXT and World Heavyweight Champions in WWE, Seth has returned from a lengthy spell on the side-lines and Cruiserweights now have their own personal spot on Monday nights. Crazy.

With that in mind, I’m going to make some bold predictions as to what I think will happen in the wrestling world within the next annum…

Big E wins the WWE Universal Championship

Kicking things off with a literal big one, I truly feel that Big E will rise to the top of the WWE ladder in the next 12 months and will get his hands on the top Raw title at some point. After all, he has all of the makings of a champion; huge stature and strength with an interesting move set and is a thoroughly entertaining presence on the mic thanks to his work with New Day.

He has also firmly established himself in the midcard having held the IC and tag belts during his tenure, so once the New Day ship sails, Big E will be firmly established as a legitimate and threatening superstar, ready to voyage boldly into the main event ocean. Almost like the opposite of roman Reigns whereby the fans will get behind him because they have seen him work insanely hard further down the card before his top-level push begins.

So long as he keeps his character interesting as it is now he will surely be a babyface that we can all get behind, something that the company is seriously missing at the minute. There’s no Kazuchika Okada or Daniel Bryan for us all to support and that factor, ultimately, is hurting the show. (See: Clash of Champions main event.) Maybe Big E can fill this hole in the coming year? I believe he may be the answer to Raw’s current woes. Plus, when Roman Reigns was selected as ‘the guy’ apparently Big E was in the frame to be pushed too, but Roman obviously became the chosen one of the pair, so management are hopefully very high on him.

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Jay Lethal and Adam Cole sign with WWE/NXT

It is surely only a matter of time before the current and previously ROH Heavyweight champions follow in the footsteps of Daniel Bryan, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and more and make the transition from Ring of Honor and New Japan towards the biggest wrestling company on the planet.

Having done everything there is to do in ROH, they’ve both (especially Adam Cole) been on the radar of Regal and Hunter for some time and with NXT losing a lot of key men to the main roster, and the annual post-Mania jump bound to occur again, it would add much-needed weight and interest to the yellow brand. So not only would this be a great benefit to their individual careers, it would be of huge benefit to the NXT roster too as it would add some much-needed star power to get viewers back on the hype train.

I also feel that, whilst 1 year feels too soon, in 2 years’ time, Michael Elgin will also join WWE. Right now he is killing it in Japan, having held the Intercontinental belt and performing in classic matches against Kenny Omega and Tetsuya Naito. Though I love him in New Japan I really cannot contain myself at the thought of Elgin coming face to face with Nakamura, Samoa Joe and maybe even Brock bloody Lesnar.

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Undertaker retires in the Wrestlemania main event versus John Cena

Rumours of a John Cena versus Undertaker match fly about every year come Mania time and this year’s only different will be that the highly-anticipated collision may actually take place. I imagine Taker, much like Flair and Michaels did before him, will want to bow out on the grandest stage against the opponent who could give him the best and biggest match possible, and Cena is undoubtedly the man to tango with for that.

And despite there not being a title involved in the face-off I would fully expect this match to be the main event of Mania 33. After all, we have 2 world titles now so which would deserve the top spot and also, in terms of draw power, this is the biggest showing they could top the card with. Both are world renowned megastars and Undertaker deserves the spot after years of incredible work and countless colossal matches.

It’s a shame that the streak is no longer intact for matches like this as someone retiring the Undertaker via cheating, especially Cena, would draw Hulk Hogan Bash at the Beach levels of heat from the fans. Cena beating Taker in the dead man’s final in-ring appearance may not do much for John in terms of a veteran rub and that could maybe be better used for Owens or Ambrose for example, but it certainly would be a spectacle, and that is exactly what Wrestlemania has always, and will always, be about.

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Katsuyori Shibata wins the G1 Climax 27

It has become a running joke for New Japan fans that, despite his sheer brilliance, Katsuyori Shibata will never rise to the top of the company and has little chance of winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, let alone standing tall at the finale of the greatest competition in the sport and going on to headline Wrestle Kingdom 12 at the Tokyo Dome. That joke will surely become reality someday though, and why not make it next year?

Yes, he left the company in a time of need, and yes, the trust barrier is still tarnished from such an event, but when someone is as good as Shibata, how long can you keep them out of the spotlight for? He’s been a key figure in the NEVER Openweight picture for the entire year and had a good showing in the G1 too; so he’s been slowly building his reputation back up and has already won over the crowd as a result.

If this year was Omega’s then next year could easily be Shibata’s as NJPW continue to push out top talent on their conveyor belt of stars. A main event match against either Okada or Tanahashi could easily cement Shibata as another giant babyface in the company and will give them even more pulling power moving forward. Overall, whilst this prediction is rather speculative, it would be bloody phenomenal if it occurred.

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So there you have it, my bold(ish) predictions for the next year of professional wrestling. What do you think will happen in the coming 12 months? Let me know in the comments or via Twitter @wrestlewreview

CWC Community Survey Results

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The inaugural Cruiserweight Classic tournament concluded last a week ago and most fans have stated that it was a massive success overall and did a wonderful job in displaying the very best wrestlers under-205 lbs walking the planet today. After picking up impressive victories throughout the tournament it was T. J. Perkins of The Philippines who stood tall over fellow finalist Gran Metalik and was crowned the first Cruiserweight champion of this new and exciting era of pro-wrestling.

Personally I couldn’t get enough of the showcase and after tuning in every week I was always left wanting more – it reminded me of the G1 Climax in this sense as, whilst the format, competitors and style are completely different, it gave me that same wrestling craving.

The presentation, the commentary, the wrestling itself, the lesser heel/face dynamic, the whole thing just worked perfectly and regardless of what direction the Cruiserweight division moves on Raw this tournament will be looked on with fond memories by myself and many, many others.

Interested to hear what others thought of the contest I issued a survey to the wrestling community and after 1436 responses, the results were as follows. I will be showcasing the top 5 results from each of the large categories but at the bottom of this page there will be a link to the results in a spreadsheet for your viewing please.

#1 – Who was your Favourite Wrestler in the CWC?

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The golden star of this tournament, Kota Ibushi takes the crown as the most-loved wrestler to appear in the CWC; from night one in his match against Sean Maluta to the final night when he succumbed to T.J. Perkins he constantly thrilled the crowd at Full Sail and at home. Experience from big matches in Japan clearly helped as his vast arsenal of moves won the hearts and minds of the western viewers too. He killed it.

Second place was fellow Japanese pro, Akira Tozawa, third was the gentleman Jack Gallagher, fourth, technical master Zack Sabre Jr. and fifth, the champion, T.J. Perkins. All these guys offered something entirely different to one another and epitomised what was so wonderful about the CWC; many style and cultures of wrestling combining to create something unique, interesting and mind-blowing.

Personally picking, I was torn between Tozawa, who won me over as he progressed through the tournament, and Brian Kendrick. Kendrick stunned me with his work and I wanted him to win the trophy so so badly as his performances got me so emotionally invested in him, but hey, at least he is on Raw and getting a second shot at the biggest company in wrestling.

#2 – What was your Favourite Match in the CWC?

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Seemingly the tournament match quality peaked in round 2 as Ibushi met Cedric Alexander in a 15 slobber-knocker. Both pulled out a whole heap of creative offence and showed why they were two much talked about names before the tournament kicked off. The only disappointment with this one can be that it wasn’t later in the bracket as this clash and Cedric himself both deserved to appear in the latter stages.

The Japanese sensation also featured in highly acclaimed matches against Perkins and Kendrick which were voted in second and fourth respectively. Third went to the best contest of the first round as the DIY tag partners, Gargano and Ciampa, beat the living crap about of one another, and fifth was the amusing and extremely fun battle between Gallagher and Tozawa as the twosome showed how well alternate styles can mesh in the ring. My favourite, Metalik v Tozawa from the quarter-finals, landed in seventh place, just behind the final between T.J. and the aforementioned luchador.

#3 – Who was the Biggest Disappointment in the CWC?

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Now this one is set to cause some controversy, and before I get into the results I would like to say that I left this question open to interpretation but the community have spoken and they have voted that T.J Perkins was the biggest disappointment in the CWC. It could be because fans did not feel he was the rightful winner of the tournament, that people hate dabbing or maybe even that his style wasn’t enjoyable to some, I certainly do not know, as personally, I thought everything surrounding T.J was wonderful.

Ho Ho Lun being so high on this list is unsurprising as he looked very green, especially in his opener against Ariya Daivari; he looked much better against Noam Dar in the second round so hopefully it will be onwards and upwards for him. British wonderboy Zack Sabre Jr. was certainly the most polarising wrestler in this tournament as after being voted 4th favourite he has also been placed at 3rd most disappointing. This is likely down to his unconventional wrestling style, which personally, I love.

4th and 5th were Noam Dar and Rich Swann. Both of these guys have been signed to the division on Raw and will hopefully excel there as both are extremely talented young men who are surely set to expand their skillsets and learn a lot as a part of wrestling’s premier weekly show.

#4 – Who did you predict to win the CWC?

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Massive pre-CWC favourite Kota Ibushi again tops the polls, as the biggest name in the tournament it is unsurprising that he was voted to the top here. Had he signed with WWE he almost certainly would have taken home the gold but he states that he still has more to experience in Japan instead. The choice to not sign with WWE may have also been the reason Zach Sabre Jr. did not win too – having won PWG’s BOLA and being arguably the biggest name in British wrestling he was hyped up as a potential winner.

Finalists Metalik and Perkins were also voted into the top 5 as many people made good calls that these two fine fighters would make it very far. Hotly tipped Jonny Gargano didn’t make it nearly as far as people had predicted but he did have two stellar matches in the bracket and we will thankfully be seeing him a lot more on the network in NXT.

#5 – Who do you think should have won the CWC?

And a final victory on the votes for former New Japan star Kota Ibushi; even though he hasn’t put pen to paper and remains a free agent, a large number of fans still believe he was the right man to win the trophy and the belt as he would have added a ton of prestige to both as the debut victor. Actual winner T.J. followed just behind him and was certainly a rightful winner in my eyes – he has worked his entire life to get to the summit and can be an excellent face at the forefront of the Cruiserweight division.

Metalik, Tozawa and Sabre Jr. would have all been worthy winners too. All 3 had some great matches that will be re-watched time and time again, and whilst it isn’t too late for the first 2 to win the Cruiserweight Championship in WWE, for now, Sabre doesn’t look like he will ever get his hands on that prize.

#6 – Out of 10, how highly would you rate the CWC overall?

Only 10.2% of people who took this survey gave the tournament a core of 6 or less which is a fantastic statistic to showcase how much many people enjoyed the Cruiserweight Classic. I hope that WWE takes the superior presentation, wrestling and timing into account when producing their other shows because as an overall package so many people enjoyed the hell out of the weekly production as over half of voters rated the tournament either a 9 or 10!

These percentages then lead well into our final question…

#7 – Should there be another CWC next year?

Just under 60% said yes, meaning just over 40% said no. I for one, am very surprised by this and expected a much higher amount of people to want another CWC next year. However, people probably don’t want this concept to be worn out, as seeing a new set of 32 stars in 12 months may not be possible and instead, the rumoured women’s invitational, or an extended tag team tournament may be more favourable to keep the format fresh.

So thank you to WWE for putting on one of the finest wrestling contests we have seen, here’s to more Crusierweights on Raw and any future tournaments of this kind.

Thank you for reading, further responses to this survey can be found here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1ZNwI8a4qowU9PAFwt421yadPv706O4KcLNYL4Oz-4sI/edit#responses

 

NXT as a Developmental Brand – When will there be another Home-Grown NXT Champion? Who will the Next Home-Grown NXT Champion be?

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Big E Bo Dallas

Rising from the ashes of the terrible half-reality, challenge-based wrestling show hosted by Matt Striker, NXT was transformed into an entirely new beast. Headed by Triple H and featuring a mix of brand-new stars either from the indie circuit such as Seth Rollins or home-grown beauties a la Bray Wyatt, NXT has grown into a magnificent wrestling showcase and is a hotbed of top talent from the indies, ROH and Japan.

Given all of this illustrious talent flying through the doors at Orlando’s performance centre it is understandable that the last 6 champions (Nakamura, Joe, Balor, Owens, Zayn, Neville) have all been graduates of the independent circuit and have not been birthed from the WWE itself. In fact, of the 9 men who have held the top male title in NXT only 2 of them had their pro-wrestling debuts in WWE; Bo Dallas and Big E.

Each had a solid run with the NXT Championship and become highly entertaining characters as a result, with Bo transforming into a delusional cowardly heel and Big E showing pure dominance as he downed his foes for a 5-count, because 3 just wasn’t enough. The successes experienced by these 2 men in NXT whilst they held the top strap clearly shows that it can be used as a tool for improvement.

So given that this is a developmental territory and that up-and-comers may improve a great deal by holding a top championship belt, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to ask, when will the next home-grown champion be crowned? And who will be the next home-grown NXT champion?

Looking at the most recent batch of NXT graduates those indigenous performers most likely to have a shot at winning the big one down in Florida were Baron Corbin, Big Cass and arguably Jason Jordan. Whilst going even further back you have Tyler Breeze, who was a main event mainstay on the yellow shaded brand.

All of the above wrestlers all moved up to the Raw or Smackdown before they could get their hands on the NXT championship but rather than making way for home-brewed stars, instead it is more ‘hot free agents’ who have followed in their footsteps.

The best way to see this would be to look at the most recent NXT Takeover card as No Way Jose and The Revival were the only 2 acts to appear whom weren’t huge stars before appearing in WWE. Compare this to the first Brooklyn show last year which featured: Tyler Breeze, The Vaudevillians, Blake and Murphy, Tye Dillinger and Baron Corbin and you can see that the number of performers who weren’t indie stars has halved.

So I guess this answers our first question; unless No Way Jose is to dethrone the mighty King of Strong Style then it doesn’t look like a domestic wrestler will hold the NXT Championship any time soon. Plus, given that the newest batch of stars include the likes of Bobby Roode, Austin Aries and Andrade Almas, no other non-indie star even features in the chasing pack, meaning our next home-grown head-honcho in NXT will likely only surface in 2017 or beyond.

This 2017 date pretty much answers the second question too but the answer is similarly distant. Given the aforementioned depth of the world-renowned pros currently residing in NXT and the fact that even more independent signings are just around the corner (Tommy End and Big Damo from the UK circuit may be there soon) it is quite clear that the next top champion in NXT is not currently featuring on television and may not have even debuted at any of the performance centre shows yet.

Please don’t get me wrong, I love the Takeover PPVs and I truly enjoy seeing all of the stars who have worked their asses off for years finally getting a shot at the big time in WWE. I just worry for those who are learning their trade at Full-Sail who may never get a chance to experience how to hold yourself as a champion before they arrive on Smackdown or Raw. It’s an important aspect of being a pro-wrestler and can add so much hype to a main roster debut as the crowd treat a former champion like a huge deal, and rightly so.

So there you have it I guess. Unfortunately the answer to both of the questions are inconclusive as realistically we are so far away from seeing another home-grown NXT Champion; hopefully one arises before too long, but until then, I would love to know what you think of the matter, who the next champion will be and when they will appear?