The Golden Shovel : An Introduction

It all began with a pipe bomb.

On June 27, 2011, Phil Brooks aka CM Punk put forth his feelings in front of the entire world, in what became a historic and significant promo in the history of the pro-wrestling business. No one before this moment had shared such a personal commentary on what they felt about the state of affairs in the WWE. Albeit it was a work, the promo changed everything we knew about the business. While Punk eventually left the business a few years later, an unhappy campaigner who till the end held his ground about what he felt was wrong with the business, he bought to the forefront what is wrong with the WWE.

So what exactly is wrong with the WWE? Since the aforementioned ‘pipe-bomb’ moment we have seen several superstars with great potential being overlooked, several gimmicks going over like nobody’s business, and yet not being given the push they deserve. While Punk was the first to voice his concern on this matter and to leave the WWE, many have followed in his footsteps. This series of articles (named after John Cena’s proverbial act of demolishing any momentum his opponents had built up) aims to decipher the possible potential these superstars held and whether that potential was justified in the end.

And since he was the father of the pipe-bomb promo, Punk is the subject of this article.

Now a lot of people ask who was CM Punk? A measly 200 odd pounds packed in a 6 ft 2 inch frame, lacking the chiselled physique a Cena or Randy Orton boasted of, should have been a nobody in the WWE. But he wasn’t. Ever since he stepped foot into a WWE ring, Punk was making a difference. His different physique, his unique personality, his youthful resolve of making it big was what made him stand out amongst the crowd. Even though the WWE tried to sideline him in front of the larger stars, CM Punk managed to become a significant somebody purely on the strength of his performance both in ring and on mic, gaining the respect and admiration of a large section of the WWE universe. And then he left.

Was it the correct move to make at the height of his career? While several critics question his decision to leave, it is important to consider the reason on the back of which the man made his choice. Punk was against the fact that ageing part timers were being given a push for Wrestlemania ahead of the existing full time stars who would require that push to become legit main-eventers of the future. His concern at the time was very real, with stars like Punk and Daniel Bryan being sidelined for the likes of returning part timers like Batista and Brock Lesnar. When Punk did eventually walk out of the WWE due to this, the powers that be took notice and catapulted Bryan into the main event, and we all know how that ended.

YES! YES! YES!

The point was it took a major sacrifice from one superstar for the WWE to realise the potential in another – a harsh reality that still exists. That was 2014, this year again the 50 year old Goldberg squashed the very talented Kevin Owens in what was a disgrace of a match, proving once again that the WWE considers ageing part timers more valuable than upcoming youngsters. The likes of AJ Styles and Sami Zayn are not anywhere near the title scene, and crowd favourites like Dean Ambrose just about made it to the mid card of the event. So was Punk’s sacrifice made in vain? Considering the impact it had on the business and the events that followed his departure, not at all. In fact, his sacrifice led to several gateways opening up for other younger stars who made the most of their shot at glory, as history showcases. Despite what critics say for the loyal fans of CM Punk, he will always be a pioneer in the business of wrestling, someone who wasn’t ashamed or afraid of being outspoken; a passionate wrestler who sacrificed himself supporting an idealistic vision for a better future of the industry.

Pipe bomb dropped.

Comments (4)

  • Aakash Aggarwal

    March 18, 2017 at 9:54 am

    Guys, it is a nicely written article. Well done!

    But I have a bone to pick with you. Brock Lesnar commands respect and demands attention despite being a part-timer because there is simply no one like him. Or a Goldberg at 50 is more valuable than an up-and-coming 25 year old because he is Goldberg.

    Don’t you think it is not bias but purely what the fans want that WWE is dishing out to them? How many will cheer for a KO? Many I am sure. But not as many as Brock Lesnar. There is something inherently romantic about a super star from the past living his last rumble. How do you explain the really dying deadman Undertaker putting his body through year after year?

    Food for thought.

    1. Team Buzz Continuum

      March 20, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      Hi Aakash, thank you for your comment.

      You have made some excellent points which makes a lot of sense. Here is our response to all your points. Hope they will help answer some of the doubts you have put forward.

      Without a doubt, Brock Lesnar is a superstar in every sense. Goldberg, although hasn’t been around wrestling or even movies for the last decade or so, is also a crowd favourite because of nostalgic value. However that doesn’t mean they are more valuable than the mainstays of the roster. You see it all boils down to business. For the sake of simplicity let us consider PPV sales (or network subscriptions), Ticket sales for events and merchandise as the main avenues of revenue. The value of any wrestler, be it part time or full time is equally proportional to the amount of revenue he or she is bringing in. The quality of wrestling/in ring performance is secondary in these aspects. So when you say are Brock and Bill more valuable than mainstays – the answer is yes and no. Here’s how.

      While a Brock definitely has higher value in terms of long term revenues (read as selling merch, getting seats filled up for shows), a Goldberg is a sentimental favourite and his value is only short term. After a time all the fans who watch the product will eventually tire of his two min matches. However, if you have both these guys on the show, they will bring in your revenue; you don’t necessarily need them to main event. If you do, what it does is in the long run, 5-8 years later when a Brock retires there is nobody else left to main event your shows. That is a situation you really do not need. When you let a regular wrestler main event a show or even feature in a title match, you are using that to leverage him as a performer in front of the fans. This will help create a solid business case in the long run, where you have other legit superstars you can resort to even when the big ones leave or retire.

      Coming to your point on what the fans want, that depends on which fans you are talking about. There are casual fans and there are hardcore fans. If you analyse, while the weekly shows have a generous mix of casual fans with a few hardcore ones (apart from traditional cities like Chicago), the larger events like Wrestlemania and Royal Rumble have a larger representation of hardcore fans. And trust me, these fans are the ones who want to see good wrestling matches, not min min squash spots.

      Lastly, somewhere even the WWE has realized this (kinda), with rumours circling that the Taker Reigns match might replace the Lesnar Goldberg title bout as the main event of Wrestlemania. Guess our wishes were heard! 🙂

  • Leana Kroft

    April 13, 2017 at 3:50 am

    Appreciate this post. Let me try it out.

    1. Team Buzz Continuum

      April 13, 2017 at 11:01 pm

      Glad you liked our blog, Ms. Kroft. Stay connected. Cheers!

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