Last week’s episode of Raw culminated in a wacky segment which featured reigning WWE champion CM Punk undergoing a lie detector test on Miz TV in an attempt to “prove” he had nothing to do with The Shield’s rampage of terror. Per Vince McMahon, if it was revealed that Punk had something to do with the heel trio, his manager Paul Heyman would be forced to face Ryback in a match next week.
Of course, fans never got the answers they were looking for: The Shield ran in and destroyed everything in sight before Miz could get anything incriminating out of Punk. And thus the “Is Punk affiliated with The Shield?” storyline is destined to continue.
On paper, it was your typical cartoonish WWE segment, with more than its share of loopholes. Come on, the local police were really going to get involved in a wrestling show and help a bunch of wrestlers sort out there problems? Also, why didn’t Punk fail the test when he declared his stage name was genuinely CM Punk? (His real name is Phil Brooks.)
However, there were other things going on in this skit which gave it much more intriguing—notably the tension between host Miz and CM Punk.
Heyman had hinted at this earlier in the evening when Miz interrupted Punk’s promo and offered him the lie detector. “Let me get this straight…You want to put a live microphone in the hands of an inhibited public speaker, three inches away from your face on live television when you know how Punk feels about you behind the scenes?" warned Heyman.
Hey, this was real. As Bryan Alvarez noted in this week’s (subscribers-only) F4W Newsletter, “Punk legitimately dislikes the guy.”
Sure enough, Punk had barely gotten strapped in for the lie detector when he started taking shots against Miz for his wrestling skills (“too bad you didn’t pay attention in wrestling school, jerk!”) For his part, Miz rebounded with a corny but spirited “Your Momma” joke and then insisted on getting on with the segment.
To be frank, the exchange wasn’t that great: Punk’s supposedly shocking shoot remarks weren’t all that controversial and/or witty. (Just think: In less than 18 months he has went from wanting to tear down the foundations of WWE and bring about massive change to making lame and tired jokes about wrestling school. This is just one problem of many with his current character.)
It was also hindered by Miz’s seeming unwillingness to get into a shoot war of words. He didn’t look flustered by the WWE champion’s remarks, or even terribly upset.
Instead, he appeared determined not to be goaded by Punk’s insults, simply wanting to get back to the script. If Punk was looking for a genuine reaction out of the former Real World star, he certainly didn’t get one.
However, this shouldn’t mean WWE do not touch upon this tension in the future. Certainly, the verbal exchange, despite its flaws, was still more compelling than anything else in the contrived segment—the tension between them was palpable—and the two could produce gold on the mic, if the two were to engage in a feud.
Certainly, elements of it would have to be scripted.
As Raw showed, Miz clearly isn’t interested in getting into real-life arguments on air with Punk. Maybe he’s simply not comfortable in that setting, or maybe he’s genuinely not that bothered about what Punk thinks of him. He may even—GASP!— think it’s unprofessional. Giving Miz a script to work with would surely help him in any potential Punk programme—provided Punk agrees to (mostly) stick to it.
Of course, it may be possible that any potential Miz/Punk storyline would be lost on the masses.
Indeed, work/shoot storylines that went over 95 percent of the audience were clueless about nonsense was partly what doomed WCW during its last few years. It may be possible that the majority of fans simply won’t care if Punk genuinely dislikes Miz. This is nothing new; Punk seems to dislike a lot of people, after all.
But it might be worth a shot.
Both men are struggling in their own ways: Miz has just turned face and seems to be struggling to find his niche. Punk is WWE Champion on a show that is seeing its ratings fall at an alarming rate—for whatever reason, his title reign is just not taking off with the casual fans. His whiny new heel character doesn’t help matters. A program between the two in the next year could potentially help turn things around for both of them.