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WWE Does "The Opposite": How Punk's Putting the "CM" in "Costanza Method"
July 15, 2011

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OOWrestling.com


There's something special in the air this weekend... something that tends to show itself only once a year, usually in late March or early April.
It's the pronounced stink of wrestling fans genuinely giving a damn about a WWE pay per view, is what it is. And it's even more pungent it was this past spring's Granddaddy of 'em All. 

Sunday's Money in the Bank PPV isn't just generating a whole new level of excitement from us loyal lemming fans, one that was a bit lacking even at this year's WrestleMania... it's successfully caught the attention of lapsed fans (my emails indicate there are many readers out there intending to buy their first wrestling PPV in 3 or more years on Sunday), and crossed over onto ESPN and other mainstream outlets (and for once, it's publicity about something other than a wrestling death).
How has WWE pulled off this impressive trick? Simple: they're doing The Opposite.
It's a time tested method: if you're stuck in a rut, and every decision you've made and ever instinct you'ver ever had have been wrong, then clearly The Opposite must be right.
If you're unfamiliar with the theory (or if you only vaguely remember it, seeing as how it has sorta been 15 years, and maybe you don't watch "Seinfeld" reruns on a near daily basis like The Rick does, even though he's seen every episode 20-something times), here's the genesis of "The Opposite"... enjoy:
Or: if you don't have 20 minutes to watch the whole episode, here's a link to the brief clip where George discovers The Opposite.
Close review of this episode is how OO stands before you today, proud to announce that OO and OO alone has now finally learned the truth about what the "CM" in "CM Punk" stands for.

Clearly, he is using the Costanza Method.
Or more accurately: he's the beneficiary of WWE using the Costanza Method.
Everything about the storyline of CM Punk intending to leave WWE upon the expiration of his contract, while reigning as WWE Champion, is the total opposite of any past behavior WWE has exhibited upon a main event performer's departure.
Publically acknowledging the impeding departure? Opposite.
Building the departee up, rather than burying him with a humiliating farewell (a la Batista, or Jericho x 2)? Opposite.
Allowing the departee to air his legitimately dirty laundry on TV? Opposite.
Allowing fans to post/share videos of said "laundry airing," to create the illusion that WWE does not want the departee's rants to be circulated? Opposite.
And as a result of all those Opposites, WWE is getting results that are the opposite of the norm... the incredibly compelling and complex story is a reach for the increasingly kid-focused WWE, but the result is that it has reached an altogether different audience. Not necessarily a NEW audience, but one that hasn't paid WWE much heed in a while. I've gotten tons of emails from readers who say "I haven't ordered a PPV since 2008, but I'm ordering this one," or "I still get WrestleMania every year out of habit, but this is the first time I've been so excited to order an off-month PPV since 2004," or other similar sentiments.
On top of that, you throw numerous media outlets who picked up Punk's original scintilating promo of June 27, and who reported it as a genuine shoot? That's big time, baby.
Of course, that does raise the minor issue of the fact that this is not a "shoot" in the truest sense. It isn't. But does it matter? Not a damned bit. The things Punk has gotten to say on TV have still come from the heart, and are his true feelings (with the dial turned up to 11, no doubt)... the fact that he's, in reality, been saying them within the storyline world of pro wrestling -- where all the sides are collaborating and cooperating in a quest to make the almighty dollar -- doesn't diminish the unique and engrossing spectacle that is CM Punk's Insubordination.
And hell, if this were a true "shoot," then it wouldn't be the Costazna Method on display... it'd just be Punk acting like kind of a dick, all while WWE exhibited epic levels of incompetence. And that's entirely less enjoyable a tale than the one we can enjoy if we disconnect the "smart" part of our brains, and revel in the sheer visceral moment, where we can enjoy Punk's actions all while wondering what happens next. If you believe it's a true "shoot," you'd be DREADING what happens next, since it'd be an almost certain anti-climax... but since this is WWE using the Costanza Method to make it SEEM like a shoot, we fans are sitting here, knowing CM Punk and John Cena will be cooperating in an attempt to entertain the hell out of the fans, possibly with Match of the Year results... and due to the originality of the angle, possibly with an Angle of the Year tacked on as part of the fall-out of the match.
[SIDE BAR: although I've been tossing around words like "originality" and "unique," the intrepid reader could google the phrase "summer of punk 2005" and realize that this is not the first time CM Punk has threatened to leave an organization with their top title. It's just the first time he's done it in an organization that matters. ZING! And kidding aside, that angle was the first time Punk impressed me as having enough of the "It" to make it on the WWE stage; conveniently enough, he showed "It" in the very storyline that was explaining his departure from ROH to WWE....]
Before I get further into the discussion of Sunday's match and the possible outcomes, I guess this would be a good moment to play catch up, just in case you're one of the many lapsed fans who heard about CM Punk being all awesome, but were too late to the party to SEE him being awesome. I can fix that.

Well, youtube can fix that. This document will already be long enough without me transcribing entire promos. So here, click these if you need to familiarize yourself with the Wisdom of CM Punk, presented Costanza-style by WWE.
First, his mind-bendingly kick-ass promo from June 27 (in which he introduces the concept of winning the WWE Title, and then walking out on the company when his contract expires 1 hour later; also talks about WWE only getting better after Vince dies; part 1 of 1):

Second, his show-opening promo from July 11 (in which he pats himself on the back for being the greatest wrestler in the world and for how he's the only reason ESPN is talking about wrestling for something other than a wrestler dying too young; Punk also makes the shoot-tastic observation that Vince is bluffing about firing Cena, because Vince would not destroy his WM Dream Match between Cena and "Dwayne"; part 1 of 2, link to part 2 should appear at end of video):

And third, the show-closing segment from July 11 (in which CM Punk and Vince McMahon attempt to negotiate a last-minute contract extension, with explosive results; part 1 of 3, links to other parts should appear at the ends of videos):

If you're dying to add even more depth and intrigue to the storyline, you can also check out this Punk/Cena promo that took place after a match they had last week in Australia. It shows an out-of-character amount of mutual respect, and also has Cena promising the Match of the Year at the MitB PPV. It's not necessary to enjoy the overall storyline, but for me, it added a whole other level of appetite-whetting as it regards the PPV...
[SIDE BAR: Between Punk's constant mocking of "Dwayne" and Cena using the Australia promo to say that his match with Punk will be better than his one with "Dwayne," Dwayne himself responded with a 12 minute rant. I'd say Cena wins if you're talking about valid points, but Rock is always gonna win on rhetoric and bluster, so it's definitely an entertaining promo. I'd say it's a dark day when self-produced vlogs are more entertaining than WWE's actual TV shows, but hey: it's The Rock. Of course he's going to be gold. You can view Dwayne's hilarious-if-not-quite-valid response here. The Rock knows something good when he sees it, and it's funny to think that -- in a very real way -- this video represents Dwayne trying to ride CM Punk's coattails by butting in on a red-hot angle.]
So, now that we're all on the same page with regards to what has happened up till this point.... what happens on Sunday?
I don't know. Neither do you. That's what makes this so damned interesting.
WWE could very well drop the Costanza Method, cold turkey. It'd suck, but no matter how red-hot the Punk angle has been on the internet, and no matter the anecdotal evidence pointing to a bigger than usuall off-moth PPV buyrate, WWE still kinda set Punk up to fail. By running this big angle with a July 4 Monday in the middle, RAW wasn't able to gain/sustain any viewers. If the "hottest angle ever" doesn't equal ratings, then WWE could blame CM Punk. And if so, they could go right back to The Usual: Superman Cena saves the day with a clean win on Sunday night.
So there, you've been warned. Not all is rainbows and unicorns. The potential for Suck remains lurking behind every corner. But let's, for the sake of argument, theorize that the Costanza Method will be in effect Sunday. What, precisely, is The Opposite of Superman Cena winning clean?
The wisdom of Seinfeld shows this is not necessarily an easy matter to determine. I mean, is chicken salad the opposite of tuna salad? Or is salmon the opposite? Life's unknowable mysteries seem to suggest that there might be more than one Opposite for any given action. Here are four general theories for Oppositiness that I can think of (in increasing order of wackiness):
1. Cena beats Punk, due to Montreal-esque/"shoot-y" Vince antics. Punk takes a vacation, has built-in storyline for eventual return; Cena has built-in storyline with Vince wanting to replace him with a more trustworthy champion.
2. Punk beats Cena, but loses title to MitB winner in a suprise bonus match. Punk takes a vacation, has built-in storyline for eventual return.
3. Punk beats Cena, and leaves as champ. Punk takes a vacation, but it's part of an arrangement where Punk may tease us by showing up (but not wrestling) at international/indie shows with his belt, but the pay-off is him returning to WWE with the belt. In the meantime, you have the built-in Cena/Vince hostilities, and a need to crown a new Offcially Recognized champ.
4. Punk beats Cena, and leaves with the title. And then he actually does continue wrestling for other companies, claiming to be a touring World Champion, despite not being recognized as such by WWE.
I do not honestly believe #4 is a viable option. There's a difference between The Opposite and bad business. And as we enjoy this storyline, and as we enjoy WWE's Costanza-like efforts, we must keep in mind that however unique this angle, WWE's doing it with the same goal they always have: to make money.
Making CM Punk into the hottest thing in wrestling, and then letting him actually work matches for other companies (with the WWE belt in tow) is a license to print money... for OTHER promotors. Granted, the story that would eventually bring Punk (and the belt) back to WWE would be a huge draw for WWE, too, but the goal here will be to maximize Punk's drawing power for WWE, and that means limiting the part of the story where people pay to see Punk on non-WWE shows.
In addition to other promotions making money off a WWE storyline, there is also the simple matter of injury risk. Punk getting hurt on a non-WWE show seriously hampters his ability to make money for WWE down the line. So why risk it? And underlying this whole storyline is the fact that Punk felt he was deserved a break from in-ring action after 5 nearly-uninterrupted years of service... how, exactly, is he getting his break if he immediately becomes a traveling World Champ? The thinking is that this is a storyline designed to give Punk a 3-4 month break that just so happens to correspond to his real life contract situation (or close to it; his real contract is up this summer, but WWE had to fudge it on the order of weeks to make it conveniently come due on the night of a PPV), and then he'll re-up so he can return with a red-hot storyline.
But how red-hot? Certainly, coming back in physical possession of a WWE Title that he legally won (only to find WWE recognizing a new champ) would be the awesomest-sounding option. The hows and whys of his comeback could make it even awesomer.
That's why I'm a huge fan of WWE having the balls to try #3. It's the craziest and most Costanza-ish option, but if WWE really wants to do something different, this is it... AND it happens to be an option where Punk may show up in non-WWE venues during his little vacation, but saves back his actual in-ring return for the story that brings him back to WWE. But showing up to sit ringside, maybe even cutting a promo if somebody hands him a mic, at some indie show(s)? It'd be a huge surprise to the fans at that show, it'd get the internet's collective panties in a bunch when "unauthorized" clips show up on youtube, and it'd only make Punk's drawing power that much greater upon his return. WWE will make more money by allowing Punk to do other teases while he's "out" of WWE.
Think of #3 as a chance to execute a latter-day "Loose Cannon" deal, except for the part where Punk's unlikely to get all fricked up on booze and pills and crash his car and screw up the whole plan. Making "renegade" appearances on other shows is a proven way to build up interest in your return to the big stage, and Brian Pillman's re-invention of his character in ECW (while he was still under contract to WCW) is all the proof you need.
WWE could even up the ante by having somebody(s) follow Punk to those other shows/venues. On TV, they'd move on and recognize a new champ, and it'd feel like WWE was sweeping Punk under the rug in an attempt to save face.... but in "real" life, it'd be oh-so-Vince-like to try to screw Punk over, no matter what it took. What better way than to get the title belt back via physical force, by sending somebody to confront Punk at a place where he'd be known to be showing up to flaunt his belt?
There just so happens to be a certain doofus out there who (a) is more than physically capable, (b) was mocked by Punk in a recent promo, and (c) is not just loyal to Vince McMahon, but he's part of the family. Imagine Punk smugly showing off his shiny bauble at some ROH event, only to spy Triple H coming towards him. Imagine the scene repeating a few more times, with Punk either powdering out like a chickenshit, or maybe even having a small brawl break out before Punk escapes. Imagine that it could even be the perfect way to write Punk back INTO WWE (Punk gets frustrated at WWE ruining his private, post-WWE life, so he says "If you're going to screw me just like you always did, you're going to have to start paying me again, too," or something like that).
Just an idea. But it's still easily the 2nd most implausible of the 4.
Idea #2 is where I think you find WWE in their comfort zone when it comes to doing something unexpected, but not totally crazy. With idea #2, you still get Punk scoring a win over Cena; that means Punk gets built up that much more on his way out (a very non-WWE thing to do), which will serve him well upon his return in the autumn. But by having the MitB Winner take him down in a fluke swerve, Vince gets to keep his title in the company without really hurting Punk's credibility. In fact, any damage that is done will be undone by the fact that -- win, lose, or draw -- Chicago is giving Punk a fond, babyface ovation at the end of the night.
#2 also gives WWE the easiest "out" to the Cena-gets-fired part of the story. On one hand, Cena lost and proved unable to get the job done; but on the other, somebody else bailed Cena out by making sure Punk didn't leave with the belt. So even though Cena is technically allowed to keep his job, you can see where Vince would be all pissy that Cena forced Vince to resort to Plan B. In this case, Vince would became the de facto benefactor to the MitB winner (the best match would be Vince with Alberto del Rio), and Cena would feud with Team Vince in a quest to regain his gold.
And because Cena is feuding with Vince via surrogate, that means all kinds of power plays can come into effect where Cena may be SEMI-fired, or something. This would be useful, as Cena's banged up with nagging injuries, so any storyline that limits his ringwork would be a good thing. WWE did this last autumn when Cena was "fired," but kept on TV in a non-wrestling role while nagging back and neck issues simmered down. Something similar could happen here, as protecting Cena from major injury is crucial if WrestleMania 28 is going to happen as planned with Cena/Rock.
But I digress. Vince by-passing Cena and helping the MitB winner means WWE has the built-in title feud for the summer, and then just when it starts to get stale is when Punk should be returning via whatever plot device they come up with. It could be as simple as Punk deciding he's seen enough, and he's back for his obligatory rematch that he never got when the MitB winner beat him. So that's got a nice flow to it that might appeal to WWE beyond the simple "safe play" aspect of it.
[SIDE BAR: now that I think about it, I'd love to use #2... but take the "safe play" aspect out of it by combining it with #3 so that Punk still leaves Chicago with the belt. Imagine a triple swerve where Punk beats Cena for the gold, then the PPV ends with the MitB winner taking the title just as time runs out.... but after the PPV fades to black, Punk stages a sit in and cuts another epic promo about how that was a BS hit-and-run, and that's he's still the best wrestler in the world. And furthermore, he's still under contract for another hour, and he wants his obligatory automatic title rematch before he leaves.... under Wrestling Law, his logic is airtight, and the new champ will be forced to return to defend against Punk. And Punk -- having had a chance to get his wind back -- wins back the WWE Title with mere minutes to spare before the midnight expiration of his contract. Not enough time for Vince or anybody else to do anything about it. Punk leaves with the title, and WWE will have the makings of a HUGE rating for RAW, what with the post-PPV title match being the talk of the intarwebz.... but do they recognize the post-PPV match at all? They could, and take the rating, or they could ignore it, and slow play the angle, with fans all knowing the truth, even if WWE doesn't admit it. Of course, there would be many convenient cellphone videos of Punk's post-PPV title match and victory that would get posted to youtube, and WWE would not take them down, so we'd all have seen the visual evidence that WWE's lying when they hand del Rio a new belt and continue to claim he's the champ. If WWE is really that committed to this new approach to social media, then that would be crazy awesome to watch Punk's title win be a youtube-exclusive viral sensation... and to watch the internet explode with misplaced indignation over Punk getting screwed... only to love it when he starts showing up elsewhere with his belt even if WWE pretends he shouldn't have it. I hereby declare the #2/3 Combo to be my favorite of my theories!!!]
In addition to #2 being "safe" in WWE's eyes, it's also pretty much exactly how Summer of Punk 2005 ended, which means if Punk intends to keep ripping himself off from 6 years ago, then losing to the MitB winner is the best way to keep doing so. [Then again, if Punk wants to keep ripping himself off while IMPROVING upon the old story, then faking the #2 before doing my ingenious #2/3 combo swerve would be ideal!]
That said: even safer than having some third party walk out of Chicago with the belt is having Cena beat Punk on Punk's way out. An adequately convoluted screwjob would protect Punk's credibility enough that he'd have a hell of a beef when he came back, but it would be a "beef" in a purely TV Rasslin' sense; all of the compelling realism and shoot-y-ness would be gone, and it'd just be a TV storyline.
And by doing #1, you don't just put Cena over while protecting Punk, you once again put things in place for a summer-long storyline where Cena and Vince are at odds (this time, with Cena being upset that Vince interfered when Cena wanted to do it on his own). With the only sure thing in this whole Punk Drama being that Punk himself is gone from WWE this summer, Sunday's outcome has to plant at least a few seeds for what happens with the WWE Title (WWE Version) in the next several months. Cena/Vince/Vince's Protege is the way to go, and this would get us there.
What form would the screwjob take? I'd suggest against a straight re-do of Montreal, or even trying to create a taint of Montreal... this should be its own thing. The reason why is that Cena is publically supportive of Punk's right to have a fair shot at the title, which is completely opposite of how fans in 1997 knew Shawn Michaels really did not like Bret Hart. You can do a screwjob like that if the other guy is in on it (or at most, a clueless patsy)... but Cena would be actively against even the slightest SIGN of a screwjob, so you need to do something different.
One option would be to do a layered screwjob, where Vince tries an obvious/Montreal-esque approach, but both Punk and Cena want no part. Or Punk could have a counter to any screwjob: there's a strong Wanker Wish for Punk to have a bunch of friends sitting at ringside, including Colt Cabana and/or Luke Gallows. Mick Foley even tweeted that he was thinking about making the trip to be in the building for such a huge match (but obviously, Mick is just being a huge jerkface by planting such a notion in our heads when he has no real plans to go through with arriving at ringside with the intent of showing Vince McMahon how to be anti-bullying).
I'll be an even bigger jerk than Mick by pointing out that we STILL don't know why he cut that original promo while wearing a Stone Cold Steve Austin t-shirt. Ahem.
Punk having an ace (or several of them) up his sleeve would be one way to foil an obvious screwjob, or it could even prove to be an effective means of scoring him a win if WWE's going with plans #2, #2/3, #3, or #4. Tons of possibilities there.
Anyways, once Screwjob Level 1 fails, that's when crazy overbooked schmozziness can break out, and Vince can orchestrate some situation in which Punk is incapacitated by foul means. As long as you give fans a red herring to bite on, a 2 or 3 level screwjob should go over like gangbusters, and have them biting on every near fall or false finish. And of course: have them pissed the hell off when Punk loses in his hometown, and effectively ends a red-hot 3 week story with a lame thud instead of extending it into Punk's "departure" and beyond like we wanted.
But hey, heat is heat.
And it'd still go over better than Cena pulling his usual superman act en route to a clean victory over the man who has captured the imaginations of fans both current and lapsed. Of the options I can think of, The Usual is easily the least palatable one. Vomitously so.
So on Sunday night, the ball's in WWE's court. They've been doing the Opposite for 3 weeks, and the excellent results cannot be denied. If WWE genuinely grasps the whys and hows of this all-too-rare instance of catching lightning in a bottle, they'll keep it up... or to recall Monday's baseball-related Punk promo: Vince McMahon is just like George Steinbrenner (and Cena is Jeter, HA!), and what happens when Steinbrenner was verbally dressed down by a brutally honest George Costanza? Costanza was rewarded.
If the Costanza Method is adhered to, the delusional boss rewarding the brutally honest underling should benefit CM Punk.
But if Vince temporarily forgets what got him to this point, and starts doing what he'd regularly do, then that's when we fans will morph into Elaine, and remind him (in a threatening fashion) that he'd better get back to doing the opposite. Or else.
Before wrapping it up, Money in the Bank *is* an entire PPV, not just a one-match card. Here's what else is scheduled for Sunday night:
John Cena vs. CM Punk (WWE Title)
 - As discussed above.
Randy Orton vs. Christian (World Heavyweight Title)
 - Per usual, Orton seems the douchier of the two despite being the nominal babyface (his back-fighting and accepting tainted wins being the worst offenses). But whatever; this is Christian's last shot before (presumably) Sheamus is bumped up to #1 Contender.
RAW Money in the Bank Ladder Match
 - Featuring Alberto del Rio, Miz, Rey Mysterio, R-Truth, Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger, Alex Riley, and Evan Bourne. With Bourne and Kofi, you have guaranteed high-spottery. With del Rio, you have the most likely winner (only Miz and Mysterio seem like other plausible winners, unless this is the year the MitB winner fails).
SmackDown Money in the Bank Ladder Match
 - Featuring Sheamus, Cody Rhodes, Kane, Sin Cara, Wade Barrett, Daniel Bryan, Justin Gabriel, Heath Slater. More wide open than RAW match (Sheamus, Rhodes, Kane, Sin Cara, and Barrett could all conceivably win; although Sheamus/Rhodes would be most likely), but with a much bigger chasm between the haves and have-nots. But hey, even with zero chance to win, Bryan, Gabriel, and Slater should add to the highspottery.
Big Show vs. Mark Henry
 - A RAW vs. SD Grudge Match, if you want to believe WWE Think. A good time to go urinate, if you want to believe The Rick. Except it'll probably lumber on for much longer than it takes to pee.
Kelly Kelly vs. A Bella (Women's Title)
 - Save for 3 weeks of Kharma, the entire women's division hasn't had a cogent thought in 2011. This random pointlessness continues that streak. Whee.
There you have it. We're not sure if it'll be me or Pyro, but one of us will have the PPV Recap for you on Sunday right after the PPV concludes. If you want real-time results and discussion, that's what the OO Forums are there for. So as we get ready for one of the most anxiously awaited matches in recent memory, keep on checking back to OO. And I'll see you kids again soon....

SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28



Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.



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