I will firmly admit that pro-wrestling right now might be getting very interesting. While the pandemic hurt the business from an audience drawing capability along with the product losing a lot of its luster, one of the weird positives to result was the WWE casting off many people. I consider this a positive because what it did was create a massive tidal wave of movement and opportunities for potentially under utilized talent that hopefully could find a spot elsewhere. An example is Malakai Black. However, one name that isn’t included, has been on the sidelines of his own volition but adds a massive amount of appeal is CM Punk.
Rumor has it that CM Punk is looking for a possible return to pro-wrestling. More than likely, financially he doesn’t really need it. He’s stated on numerous times that he didn’t want to get involved with a product unless it’s presented in a more serious fashion. So him going with AEW is a very curious thing, at least for me.
There was talks recently about how AEW is planning for a really huge show up in NYC, backyard of the WWE. Speculation about a very special guest was underway and people narrowed it down to Daniel Bryan, who supposedly is not under contract, CM Punk, John Cena (which obviously won’t happen) and even Ric Flair. Ric Flair, while being able to get a huge pop, wouldn’t add much outside of a GM role. However, his daughter, Charlotte, is one of the top attractions in the WWE and from all intents and purposes he seems pretty loyal to the WWE at this point in his life, even though his soon-to-be son-in-law works for AEW.
Danial Bryan was another very interesting choice. His contract with the WWE ended on May 4 reportedly which would allow him to go with another company. According to rumors, the WWE was trying to negotiate hard with him to stay on but it might just be the terms to make him happy. The thing is that he can work a style that is AEW friendly and has the name recognition and he’s at that age where a lesser schedule would be beneficial, especially after being forced to retire once.
Then there’s CM Punk, who has been out of the equation for some time. I know Jim Cornette has been saying for a while that AEW should toss a ton of money to Punk to make it worth his while. He’s only 2 years older than Daniel Bryan and probably can still go. More importantly, he’s still remembered and can talk on the mic. The real question for him is what it would take for him to sign.
So the funny thing for me is that I came up with an idea for the past week since hearing about the “major” appearance in NYC. My idea was how to change AEW from this goofy, indy type of style into a more realistic but modern and acceptable presentation. The idea is based on the NJPW-UWF angle as well as stuff I’ve seen between Akira Hokuto and Shinobu Kandori when they met at the AJW Dream Slam in 1993.
There was a really bizarre “angle” that AEW did a few weeks ago with Dan Lambert. It obviously was used as a literal and figurative slam against old school pro-wrestling fans (most notably Jim Cornette for his podcasts which constantly criticize AEW’s presentation). Sadly, nothing really came out of the situation besides a cheap laugh. However, the key in this situation is what he represents which is a training facility for MMA along with having two known MMA fighters with Nunes and another guy.
My “story” would be to have them show up again, minus Lambert. Then during one of the more fake type of wrestlers (e.g. Omega, the Young Bucks), I would have one of the legit MMA people laugh in their face which would result in a slap. The MMA person would jump the rail and knock the fake wrestler out and/or attempt to break their arm or leg. The key here is for the fake wrestler to sell it big time (or perhaps better yet ACTUALLY break the arm/leg or do a complete knock out). No matter what the end result would need to look good. I would have the MMA person escorted and handcuffed by police and sent to prison for the night with TMZ, for instance, getting mugshots. The whole thing needs to look as realistic and plausible as possible because otherwise the whole thing will be thrown out.
I would have the incident played up for a few weeks through video packages and wrestlers becoming concerned for the health of the injured person where we wouldn’t know whether that person could perform again. Hospital visits, heels/faces with looks of genuine concern, flowers sent by fans.
Then I would get the goofy wrestler who was injured to admit that maybe his choice of work was a mistake and have his friends say that this was unnecessary. Why would anyone do such a thing? They’re here just to entertain people. And that’s when they invite one of these MMA fighters back the following week.
The interview segment might be hosted by say Chris Jericho (someone who represents the inside track). Basically, the MMA fighter would explain something like, “the thing with Dan Lambert was funny. But then we saw that fan go in and realize that wrestling is a joke. Dan wasn’t saying anything incorrect but now you have fans who believe they can do this. So we took one of the “fans” out that make wrestling a joke and piss on legitimate combat sports.”
With someone like Chris Jericho, the MMA fighter can go, “Hey, we know you used to be a real wrestler. Now, you’re just involved in stupid shit with orange juice and getting your face bashed in by an idiot who attacks you in front that anyone can see. We’re trying to wake you up because you’re an embarrassment to yourself, the sport, your fans and you should retire because you’re fat, old, self-absorbed and can’t go anymore.”
So Chris Jericho attacks and gets taken down. His pride is hurt and he demands a match at the next PPV. But he wants to use the time to train and get back into condition. Meanwhile, I would have someone like Nunes come down and verbally assault say the Young Bucks saying that they’re so weak and phony she can take them down. When they act goofy, she not only breaks the guy’s jaw, she proceeds to savagely destroy the guy, lacerating his face and giving him a knock out concussion. Business just picked up because these guys can’t act stupid anymore.
Eventually, the PPV match happens, Jericho (hopefully) is in better condition but the match last maybe 1-2 minutes max. Jericho goes down like Rocky the first time in Rocky 3 or Apollo Creed in Rock 4 and everyone is in shock. Their idol is metaphorically dead. So the MMA fighters continue beating the hell out of people, with one challenging Kenny Omega. They again beat him in 1-2 minutes and spit on the title.
Out comes CM Punk. He basically tells everyone that they have no chance except maybe Jake Hager and a few people with some real martial arts training. But he tells them that these MMA fighters are right and that the sports entertainment crap is what made them soft, vulnerable and complacent. Worse yet the fans had been blindly encouraging it. So he’s going to start training to get revenge in the name of pro-wrestling to take the title back.
And basically, I would push a bunch of people who had experience with MMA and start moving into a more realistic style. Shorter match lengths but it’s going to look good and realistic. Punk will beat all the other people for a while en route to taking on whoever had been selected and be their hero. There’s your paradigm shift in pro-wrestling on a mass scale that will move AEW back towards what they had proposed rather than being a WWE lite. Then the scorecard, win/losses and analytics would actually work. Real questions will be posed such as will this technique win against that one. The focus will return to wrestling. But it’s something that the WWE will not compete against. So you have a real differentiator.