Monday, January 21, 2013

Top Ten Cases: WWE 2012 Year-End Awards - Most Successful Turn of the Year

My Pick:  CM Punk turns heel
CM Punk’s heel turn is a truly unique thing.  Pretty much every single fan out there was perfectly happy cheering for him, so it wasn’t something that people particularly wanted to happen.  And the storyline reason behind his turn was incredibly weak.  As was the resulting feud with Jerry Lawler, and the random lack of respect the announcers showed towards him (suddenly forgetting that he stood up to every challenger and had successfully and honorably defended his championship for over half a year).  Yet, despite all of these shortcomings, CM Punk turning heel ended up being the best thing for him and his position within the company.

As a face, CM Punk was one of the most entertaining and consistently over guys on the entire roster.  He was getting great reactions with his mic work, and fans were emotionally invested in his matches (which were often the best of the night).  However, he was clearly playing second fiddle to John Cena.  While Cena’s feuds were the focal point of Raw (in many cases) and he was ending each PPV, Punk was relegated to the middle of the show.  Hell, his WWE title match against Chris Jericho wasn’t even included in the opening video of WrestleMania.  While the motivation and initial follow up of his heel turn was flimsy, it DID shift Punk from being the #2 face to the #1 heel, which by default was a promotion.  Since his heel turn, Punk has wrestled on four of the past five Pay-Per-Views.  Of those four shows, he’s wrestled in the last match of three of them.  Which is three more than all of the prior events in 2012.

And truth be told, once he found his footing, Punk’s heel turn has been spectacularly entertaining.  There were some moments when he seemed to turn into a stereotypical cowardly heel, but overall his work has been phenomenal.  I especially loved his shtick where he would raise the championship over his head and would slowly sidestep and rotate around the ring for an inordinate amount of time (like doing it over an entire commercial break).  And his partnership with Paul Heyman – which most were skeptical about since they thought it would mean we’d get less promos from Punk – ended up being one of the year’s highlights.  And whether it was by design or default, Punk’s transition to top heel made way for some fresh new babyfaces easing their way into the main event scene.

And if nothing else, turning heel at least got him a much, much better haircut.

What You Said – CM Punk turns heel
We once again agree here, but not overwhelmingly so, as CM Punk turning heel got only 46% of the votes.  Perhaps most surprising for me is the fact that Kane came in second place, with 21% of the votes.  I mean, Big Show’s heel turn and Alberto Del Rio’s face turn each earned them a run with the World Heavyweight Championship, yet they only gained 13% and 2% of the final vote.  Hell, even Eve’s heel turn (4%) won her the Divas Championship.  While Kane’s current “anger management” character is immensely more entertaining than the cartoon “embrace the hate” villain he was playing when he returned wearing a mask, much like Daniel Bryan, I’m not sure I would describe it as a “success.”  It was by no means a failure, but he basically went from main eventing shows against John Cena to working as a comedy character and one half of the tag team champions.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s still sitting mighty pretty with a pretty much guaranteed spot on every PPV, but I’m not sure he’s in a better position than he was before he turned.

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