Booking to Potential – Booking Your Way Out Of A Corner

Christopher Mariscal

In case anyone listened to the Voice of Wrestling this week, Chris, Nick, and Mark all discussed the potential booking debacle of CM Punk and the Undertaker at Breaking Point, in which all matches are a type of Submission Match. 

How can the Undertaker go over without making CM Punk look incredibly weak?  How could CM Punk go over without completely destroying any of the Undertaker’s credibility?  After all, the Undertaker has never tapped out or submitted to anyone in his entire 19 year run.

I suppose my first question would be “What has the Undertaker done to deserve a title shot?”

I’m of the opinion that the Undertaker is such a popular wrestler that fans would order a Pay Per View to watch him in just about any match, and he doesn’t need the World Title to be in the picture to raise any sort of interest.  There are any number of superstars on the Smackdown roster that could use the rub from providing credible competition in a casket match, or even in this submission match format.

I am also, however, or the mindset that CM Punk has worked very hard to carve out a good niche in WWE and he has provided them with just about everything they need to have a good "face of the franchise" type in the future if they ever decide to turn him face again.  He works a good style, which lets bits of his indy scene brilliance shine through in WWE’s more camera friendly "sports entertainment" format.  I’ve read more than a few times that the Undertaker is one of Punk’s dream opponents, and at this point in his career, I’m glad to see him get that opportunity.

So now you have a mess.  CM Punk has done everything except establish himself as a credible World Champion in any of his first three reigns.  The Undertaker can’t submit and doesn’t need the credibility of a World Title to cement his legacy as one of if not the best of all time.  Based on the way that both superstars have been booked in the past, there is no logical reason that CM Punk should go over the Undertaker in a submission match type setting. 

So what is a booker to do?

Well the simple answer (and the one that I’m going to go with) is to play with the format.  WWE has already decided that it’s going to be several matches with a submission type finish, but they won’t all be submission or "I Quit" matches per se.  Since we know that Kane and the Great Khali are now going to have a Singapore Cane Match, we have to look at the other matches that can have a similar type finish.

Any kind of match with a pinfall is out.  Any kind of match with a disqualification would seem to be out. 

In my opinion, CM Punk has to go over in this match whether it’s by hook or crook.  The Undertaker can’t comprimise his character by submitting.  Even if he gets all four limbs cut off and CM Punk holds his children hostage, the Undertaker cannot submit.

It would seem to me there is only one kind of match, which would be something CM Punk could win.  He doesn’t have to win it cleanly.  He doesn’t even have to win it convincingly.  He just has to win.  The champion would propose this match:

"You know when I was a kid I looked up to a lot of wrestlers.  My heros were guys like Ricky Steamboat, Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Randy Savage, and Curt Hennig.  I looked up to the great technicians who came out here and competed in the greatest physical battles any wrestler would ever face.

Shortly after my twelfth birthday, a new force loomed over the WWE.  He was invincible, he was unstoppable, he was supernatural, he was the Undertaker.  Everyone was in awe of this dark figure stalking his opponents, seeming impervious to pain, drawing his power from the mysterious dark side…

Well just about everyone.  Everyone that is, but a young CM Punk!

Yes, the Undertaker is a big man.  Yes, the Undertaker is a strong man.  Yes, the Undertaker is a credible in ring adversary.  But Undertaker, just because you are good, that does not mean that you are not VASTLY overrated.

You are just like me and everybody else backstage.  You are just a man. 

You have no supernatural powers.  You are not ‘dead’.  You are just a crafty old veteran who is very smart about ‘playing the game’. 

No man has ever mastered mind games quite like the Undertaker.  And I’ll admit, at Summerslam, you got me. 

When most people see you, their inner child cowers with fear and respect.  When my inner child saw you, it quickly reminded me that you are nothing more than a creation of the WWE Media Machine and your own imagination!

When this child grew up, he trained hard to be just like his heroes.  Men who left every ounce of who they were in the ring.  This child grew up to continue the lineage of the greatest technicians in history.  What can you say about all of us?  We are the best to ever step foot in the squared circle.

What can you say about the Undertaker?  He’s got some really cool theme music.  He knows how to turn on a fog machine.  He knows how to turn lights up and down.  He knows how to roll his eyes backwards.  He knows how to get into an opponent’s head.

Well CM Punk is one opponent who is too smart for that.  CM Punk is a man who is not afraid of the Undertaker fairy tale. 

CM Punk is a man who wants to end the fairy tale.

Breaking Point is an innovative concept in which you must push your opponent to the edge.  You must push them so far that they give up.

That is not enough for me. 

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