THE SPECIALISTS PWTORCH ROUNDTABLE - Jericho vs. Punk: How will their feud play out?, Will it relate to Jericho's "end of the world" Rumble proclamation? (Part 1)
Jan 31, 2012 - 6:10:06 PM
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PWTorch Specialist Roundtable Question 1/31 - Where do you see WWE going with the Chris Jericho-C.M. Punk feud that started on Raw, and does it relate to Jericho's proclamation of "the end of the world as you know it" for the Royal Rumble?
Jon Cudo, PWTorch specialist
I had a large loss of faith in the story they are telling with Chris Jericho in the last three days. I expected Jericho to address the vignettes and sew the story together, but it seems they are stumbling into the feud based on a simple run-in, instead. The clues and pieces of Jericho's storylines seem to last just a few weeks before simply moving on, and the girl in the video and his reclamation project seems a forgotten point replaced by a shiny jacket and a cheesy smile.
WWE has shown they can spark and rekindle feuds quickly (see Triple H and Taker), so why waste time telling a long-term story? I hope I am wrong and this all fits together in the build to WrestleMania, but my hope is fading.
Where I see this going is to next week's Raw, where they will change their mind again, Jericho won't speak, Punk will be focused on John Laurinaitis, and WWE will be another week removed from the buzz-generating Jericho videos making sense. In the broader picture, it would be hard to see where they could fit in another long talking segment when they are already so focused on Kane and John Cena and the job review of the Interim General Manager. It makes you wonder if this is really what Jericho had in mind when he returned. (Read Cudo's True-False-TBD column mid-week examining top stories.)
Justin James, PWTorch contributor
I really don’t think there is much more to this than booking 101. They are building to Punk–Jericho for WrestleMania, and the attack on Punk helps position Jericho as a heel. Regarding Jericho’s “the end of the world as you know it” talk? It’s all hot air.
WWE has been getting very good at not delivering a pay-off on these things, and I think “the end of the world of you know it” can already be safely filed away in the same bin as the Nexus “higher purpose” and the identity of the anonymous Raw GM. It’s a shame, because they had something good going there with that imagery, but they’ve already devalued it completely. (Read James's weekly reports on WWE NXT and Superstars.)
Shawn Valentino, PWTorch specialist
Ever since rumors started about Chris Jericho returning to WWE, everyone assumed the logical feud for him would be C.M. Punk. The first few weeks of his comeback were nothing short of genius, and I seriously question the intelligence of fans impatiently whining about him not talking or thinking that "he has done nothing" since he returned. The last decade of wrestling has been one rushed angle and title change after another, so people should appreciate that someone is taking the time to build a character not seen before, and my hope has been that Jericho has creative control completely in his hands instead of the awful writers.
That being said, I think the train ran off the tracks with his Royal Rumble performance. Logically, he should have won the match, and while it was predictable, it would have generated massive heat if it were done in some original manner. I was hoping Jericho would win, but my main problem is that his entire performance in the Rumble was completely disconnected to his proclamation of "end of the world," as well as the unique character he presented the past month.
There were so many opportunities to present something intriguing to further showcase Jericho's act in a Rumble void of star-power and hype. Sheamus is okay, but him winning the Rumble does nothing for me. His run as a heel was nothing special. I hate his goofy, smiling babyface character, and I feel that a strong Jericho, fresh off a weasely Rumble win, would have been perfect entering the Punk feud. Jericho's attack of Punk was okay, but it was a pretty generic way to start the feud compared to the possibilities that they could have had if Sunday night's PPV ended differently.
Overall, I believe it is a disappointing start to the feud. Jericho was involved in some of the most interesting feuds in years before he left, including the legendary conflict with Shawn Michaels. I have hated Punk's "pipe-bomb" character and feel that it has been counterproductive while catering to the geeky fan. I hope Jericho takes control of the booking in this one. It has plenty of potential and hopefully there will be some intriguing, entertaining television in the upcoming months. (Read Valentino's regular Magic, Memories, and Mania columns leading up to WM28.)
Mike Cupach, PWTorch contributor
I’m going to take a stab in the dark and say that Jericho’s proclamation that the world as we know it is ending was said when he thought he was going to win the Rumble, then things were changed, so it no longer makes sense. Call me crazy, but I have a feeling! I’m sure that WWE will try to twist things around to try to make it make sense, but I think that its original meaning is out the window. Maybe they will claim that Chris was talking about the old WWF nightclub called “The World” and he wants to redecorate it and it won’t be the same, who knows.
As for where they go from here, I suspect that Jericho wins the Elimination Chamber match and has the re-match with Punk at WrestleMania. The only thing that makes sense to me and can further the feud is to have Punk lose the WWE Title in the Chamber. I don’t know what happens. Maybe Jericho injures Punk before the show and he loses without competing, or Jericho does a real screwjob in the match, but I think a title change is the only way to progress the feud. I don’t condone another round of hot potato with the WWE Championship, but sometimes you have to do things for the greater good. (Read Cupach's alt. perspective review of each week's Smackdown episode.)
Brian Leahy, PWTorch review specialist
I believe this entire feud will be centered around Jericho and Punk bucking the traditional perceptions of what should constitute a “heel” or “face.” Punk is an anti-hero and his actions before Money in the Bank were those of an out and out villain; he vowed to leave the company with the title, he belittled everyone else on the roster, and ripped into the fans for being sycophantic sheep. Though he’s been neutered significantly since the heights of last July, he built his fan base by voicing his disdain for the “WWE Universe” and that should not be forgotten.
Jericho, on the other hand, is the “anti-villain.” His actions in the first few weeks following his return were those of a completely over-the-top babyface. He didn’t rip on anyone and he didn’t pledge to bring the company to its knees; all he did was pander for the cheers you’d expect to hear for a top-tier face. Yet, as intended, the cheers quickly faded and the boos crept in. His constant, sickly-sweet pandering would have worked in an era long gone, brotha, but in 2012 it just doesn’t sit right.
To anyone on the outside looking in on this situation, Jericho should be the face and Punk should be the heel. Though professional wrestling doesn’t work that way, you can rest assured that Y2J sees the situation in the same light, and that Punk is undeservingly getting the cheers that Jericho himself should be receiving. Jericho has a strong history of being the self-righteous tormentor, with staunch views on how others should behave (see his feuds with HBK and Mysterio). Injecting the same sanctimonious venom into this feud with Punk and the fans, could well make for “must-watch” TV.
I don’t read too much into Jericho’s proclamation of “the end of the world as you know it" prior to the Rumble. It now seems like this was an intentional over-estimation of Jericho’s own impact on the Rumble; a promise he came nowhere close to delivering. And, as we all know, a babyface doesn’t (or shouldn’t) make a promise they can’t follow through with, and making such a bold statement only set Y2J up much higher to fall from in the eyes of the fans. (Read Leahy's regular independent wrestling DVD reviews and listen to him regularly on Sean Radican's VIP Audio shows.)
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