Tuesday, February 19, 2013

God Bless CM Punk

When these people hate you, it's a win
Punk, for those of you who don't watch crap, is a bad guy (or, in the trade, "heel") wrestler with the WWE. Which probably made all of you just roll your eyes and wonder about my sanity, given that I am not 12 or afflicted, but hang with me anyway. The man did me a major solid tonight.

See, folks, it's the pure dead time of sports. Not quite as bad as the All Star Break around the MLB game, but close. And no, I'm not going to talk about Jerry Buss, because the day that I eulogize a franchise owner is the day that a franchise has paid me an absurd amount of money, and no, that day is not today.

How devoid of sports? So devoid that I,well, turned on wrestling this evening. And admitted to it in public. And found myself, well, entertained... but not by anything that goes on in the ring. Just for the mic work.

You see, I've been writing professionally for 25+ years now, and I gotta tell you... villains are where the money is made. Being able to craft a character that an audience finds to be believable, threatening and truly hissable... that's work, dammit. And if you can get it right, you are pretty much punching your meal ticket forever and ever, because it's a knack, and absolutely essential to the long-term health of the hero franchise. (Besides, heroes are comparatively easy.)

And I am loving the heel work of CM Punk.

Here's the situation that the villain finds himself in. He's lost his title to a second-tier movie star (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) who hasn't been involved in day to day wrestling work in forever, and still isn't, since he's in a half dozen movies a year. The big event in a month and a half will be with Johnson going against the other big "face", John Cena, a painfully thick and white guy who seems to appeal to servicemen and children. Punk has lost his last two matches against Johnson, so he's more or less gone insane with resentment and chicanery, and has to feud with Cena to try to steal his shot.

Which makes him, well, the only reason to watch, since he's the only thing that's new or unpredictable here (Johnson and Cena did this whole thing a year ago), and the only guy who is saying anything different. (He's also at least 50 pounds smaller than either of those meat bags, which makes you wonder how anyone let him hold the belt in the first place. Probably, well, due to the mic skills, and unlike everyone else involved in this post, he actually seems to have a bunch of moves. Anyway.)

How good is Punk on the mic? So much so that he can spit in a guy's face and have half of the crowd (i.e,, the people who think they are too smart to watch wrestling, and yet watch anyway) cheer for him. So good that when he insults the locale of the venue, the same half of the crowd goes with it, like it's a roast on Comedy Central. So good that you can hear the crowd's hatred for him wane and rise, depending on how much of his latent humor he lets seep through the mic (like everyone with a shelf life, he used to be a face). So good that I watched enough of this to write a post about it, because I was actually, well, entertained.

Just like "Justified" is carried by Wilton Goggins, or Breaking Bad was by Giancarlo Esposito, Punk carries this. Which doesn't make it all that watchable, really; it's not like one guy ad-libbing off a motivation in a wildly limited situation is worth your time.

But here's the magic thing about Punk. He got me through a night without sports, gave me enough to write a post about it, and kept me from watching Bill Simmons fellate Bill Russell on NBA TV.

Can we give him Sportsman of the Year yet?

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