Lutz's Blog: C.M. Punk's promo on Jerry Lawler didn't offend me, but that doesn't make me right
By Jeffrey Lutz
The presidential campaigns concluded almost two weeks ago, but I still found myself checking the polls this week.
I wasn't monitoring Mitt Romney's progress, or lack thereof, among Latino voters or noting Barack Obama's surge in support from females, though. I was taking notice of two wrestling-related questions on which voters might have contradicted themselves without even realizing it.
One asked whether Linda McMahon's Senate defeat signaled the imminent return of Attitude Era programming to WWE. The other wondered whether I was offended by CM Punk's heart-attack-related promo on Jerry Lawler on the most recent edition of Raw. It was interesting that these conversations were happening at the same time, and it's completely plausible that someone would answer "Yes" to the first question and "Yes" to the second without taking into account that those identical answers essentially depict opposing views.
Guessing that WWE goes back to more risque and controversial storylines doesn't mean viewers are clamoring for them, but the release of the WWE '13 video game and the early promotion for the Attitude Era DVD has many fans feeling a bit nostalgic.
Punk may have accelerated that nostalgia with a promo was a callback to what most consider WWE's golden age. However, the "Internet fans" that are most vocal about their dissatisfaction with the current toned-down product might be the same ones who were so turned off by Punk - a television character - making light of a life-and-death situation. I understand their displeasure, but I don't share it.
It's difficult to be of the opinion that Punk's words weren't offensive because it feels like it invalidates the feelings of those who might have a real reason, such as a loss of a loved one due to heart disease, to be angered by it. The raw emotion this angle summoned within people makes me believe some people on both sides had their minds made up before Punk said a word.
I, like some others, laughed when Punk's music hit at the end of the real-life moment Lawler had upon his return. Many probably wanted to share in that moment a little bit longer without the inevitability that WWE would exploit it in some way. Maybe these people groaned when Punk's music started, knowing what was to come. Maybe it was as bad as they thought it was going to be, but maybe not.
My opinion of Punk as a performer probably clouds my view. During his promo I found myself saying, "He may be the best of all-time," and feeling a shred of sadness with Punk's declaration that he will retire sooner than later in the back of my mind. When Punk started talking, I started hanging on every word. The fake Paul Heyman heart attack made me roll my eyes, but I was all in again once Punk said, "My God, Paul, you almost gave me a heart attack."
The love of Punk in the Internet community made me surprised that so many were dissatisfied. But it's possible that the level of knowledge on Phil Brooks caused the uproar. I don't think anyone thought that it was a shoot, but it probably didn't take much effort from Brooks to put the promo together. The same person that would hit a fan in the crowd, even in perceived self-defense, probably can easily come up with words, while channeling his inner-villain, to demean a heart attack victim. It's admirable and concerning at the same time.
Varying opinions were shared even among wrestlers. Steve Austin surprisingly hated it while Chris Jericho loved it. Two seemingly equally knowledgeable former wrestlers couldn't agree so we shouldn't have to, either. There is no trump card to be played by either side. Jerry Lawler being OK with it doesn't mean anyone else has to be. It's a matter of personal preference and taste with perhaps a little prejudice mixed in. I loved the promo and maybe you hated it, and that's probably exactly what WWE wanted.
Jeff Lutz has written for the Wichita Eagle newspaper in Kansas for over a decade and debuted with Prowrestling.net on November 4, 2012. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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