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07-28-2011, 11:23 AM #1
Which WWE Hall of Famer Saved CM Punk in 2007?
“I’m a Paul Heyman Guy!” CM Punk – 6/27/11 Monday Night Raw.
That one line in Punk’s promo kicked off this whirlwind ride we’re on in the “Summer of Punk” story. This period is being talked about as having lead to resurgence of interest in pro wrestling.
Over the next three days, I’m going to look back at three different periods in 2007 when CM Punk became the center piece of the ECW Brand. These stories will shine a little light on the frustration surrounding Punk’s early run in WWE.
On December 4th, 2006, Paul Heyman left the WWE Creative Team, for the final time. This also meant that for the first time ever, Heyman would not be involved in the creative process of ECW. Stephanie McMahon walked into the writer’s room to tell us Paul would no longer be involved and that I was now in charge of ECW. This was as much news to me as it was the rest of the team. As had happened with Alex Greenfield when he took over Smackdown, I wasn’t talked to about the new position. I wasn’t doing backflips about this because I knew the baggage that came with it. I had run Smackdown for four years before this and knew how Vince and Kevin Dunn viewed ECW. The world saw how they viewed the brand for the five months before this and especially the night before on PPV with December to Dismember.
The PPV from Augusta, GA featuring an Extreme Elimination Chamber match was the least bought WWE PPV in history. The show was handicapped by zero promotion from Raw and Smackdown and being the 2nd WWE PPV in eight days; following Survivor Series. The main purpose of the event was to crown Bobby Lashley as the new flag bearer for ECW. The event had only two matches announced before hand, the Elimination Chamber and the reuniting of MNM vs. The Hardyz. While Lashley was going to be the “man” that night winning the title, there was a pitch by Heyman to have CM Punk and Big Show start the Chamber and for Punk to eliminate the Big Show with the Anaconda Vice. Big Show was behind the idea and felt it was the right move to make. There were a few different long term pitches off of this including Punk vs. RVD at Wrestlemania. Heyman had protected Punk, including making sure his debut match was at the Hammerstein Ballroom. This pitch was meant to establish Punk as the “next” guy after Lashley. If you’ve seen the match, you know this didn’t happen.
The Anaconda Vice became one of the things that the agents picked on Punk for. Vince had mocked Punk in meetings by doing the wrist gesture and even instructed announcers to NOT mention his Muai Thai background. Everything that made Punk unique was questioned and mocked. “Don’t think people can relate to with a character who doesn’t have an occasional beer”, said one agent. In 2006, Vince McMahon looked at Punk and “didn’t get it”. Plus, when you have Paul Heyman pushing heavily for you in that environment – you get the stigma of being a “Paul Heyman Guy”. I had the stigma because I worked with Paul on every run he had on creative from 2002 – 2006. Punk suffered for those sins and that night in December, he did not make the Big Show tap out. The agents who didn’t like him made sure the audience would not get a moment from CM Punk that night; Punk was the first man eliminated in the match.
In under 24 hours, everything about ECW had changed. Heyman was out, Big Show was gone, and I was left with a mess. CM Punk, a lot like ECW, Goldberg, the NWO and especially WCW, were not WWE creations. The track record has shown that Kevin Dunn and Vince McMahon do not support ideas that were not generated inside their bubble. Punk got the tag line of “King of the Indies” and those agents who didn’t like him before Heyman was gone, they were out for blood now.
I’m no Paul Heyman. I won’t ever try to sell you that I’m a genius, instead just a guy who always wants to do the best for the talents and projects I work on. I had a connection with ECW, it’s what kept me excited about the business in 1994 and 1995 when there wasn’t much to be excited about. That spirit of ECW was what we tried to continue in the new ECW, including launching a new star like CM Punk. But I didn’t have an ally, especially a veteran voice, in that agent meeting.
The voices in that meeting room pushed for Hardcore Holly. Now, I am a fan of Hardcore Holly. When Brock Lesnar had broke Holly’s neck, it was Bruce Prichard and I who suggested Holly coming for revenge. (watch here) It was the hottest Holly ever got but he didn’t connect with the audience and they had a forgettable match at the Royal Rumble 2004. Here it was 2007 and the agents were pushing for Holly ahead Punk. In their matches during December and January, Holly beat down Punk in the corner, ignoring the ref’s count and getting disqualified. (watch here) And then Hardcore Holly hands Punk his first loss. (watch here) I had heard rumblings of agents pushing Vince to show Punk the door. ECW started to receive less and less attention and then we had the horrible show in Little Rock in mid-January. The matches were bad, the interviews were bad; the plane flight home from that show was worse. It was the longest flight of my life. The next day I sat down to talk with Stephanie about that flight but more importantly about what I thought ECW needed. I needed a veteran voice to help turn the tide. I needed an ally.
Fast forward to the agent meeting in Houston. Vince McMahon was scheduled to appear on ECW for the first time in the start of a new storyline. He was going to rid ECW of it’s “Original” stars and make the way for a “New Breed”. The meeting quickly turned into another CM Punk bash fest. My role was to run the meeting but dare not speak out of turn on the veteran agents. This was how the previous months meetings had gone but this day was different. It was a new voice in the room that changed everything. “Um, if you don’t like something the kid is doing, why don’t you work with him to fix it… instead of killing him” That voice belonged to Shawn Michaels.
In January of 2007, Shawn Michaels was my consultant on ECW. I was able to get in his input on the shows, thoughts on talents and in this situation the voice needed in that agent meeting. Like getting to work with Paul Heyman, Vince McMahon, Dusty Rhodees, working with Shawn was a dream come true. In that meeting in Houston, Shawn brought up that guys like him and Undertaker will not be around forever and, while everyone liked Holly, it was guys like Punk who were the future. The mood in the room changed, the den of negativity that existed was silenced for the time being. Punk wasn’t pushed strong that week or even the next week but the ship had turned. Punk was positioned better from that point forward.
Shawn Michaels was pulled back into active duty when Triple H was hurt and programmed to face John Cena at Wrestlemania 23. Dusty Rhodes ended up joining me to help book ECW. And CM Punk made Wrestlemania 23 as the only ECW guy in the Money In the Bank Ladder Match.
In that Money In the Bank ladder match, Punk was involved in the finish of the match. He was finger tips away from the briefcase only to have Mr. Kennedy knock him off and grab the case. This was just foreshadowing as Punk did go on to win the Money in the Bank briefcase in back to back years to win his first two World Titles.
Imagine if those agents would have gotten their way back in early 2007? We might have never gotten to see this at the 2011 Money in the Bank PPV.
WWE has even restocked the shirt that was going for 500 bucks on EBay!
07-28-2011, 10:17 PM #2
Wow.....just.....wow. Punk went through hell.
Thanks again AJ.
BTW who was telling the story?
07-28-2011, 10:21 PM #3
Its anonymous. Part 2 will be up soon
07-28-2011, 10:27 PM #4
07-29-2011, 04:10 AM #5
- Join Date
- Jul 2011
not really anonymous, David Lagana was head writer of ECW at that time, google him if you want more info as i can't post links
07-29-2011, 04:10 AM #6
- Join Date
- Jul 2011
interesting read though
07-29-2011, 08:13 AM #7
08-02-2011, 09:55 PM #8
09-09-2011, 10:53 PM #9
- Join Date
- Apr 2011
cm punk rulez, he had hard times