As I sit here writing this, Brock Lesnar is the reigning WWE Universal Champion, celebrating his 392nd day with The Big Red Belt. That puts him just 42 days shy of CM Punk’s historic 434-day reign, or exactly six weeks.
This isn’t a new thought from me, either:
Brock Lesnar is now 45 days away from surpassing CM Punk’s reign. pic.twitter.com/owTBEtuohm
— Greg DeMarco (@ChairshotGreg) April 27, 2018
Read the replies to that tweet, it’s actually a great discussion.
On the date of Brock’s next scheduled title defense, he’ll…umm…wait–Brock doesn’t have a next scheduled defense!
Anyway, CM Punk has a WWE Championship run that lasted 434 days, at least officially stated by WWE. Counting his actual days as champ (he did wake up on January 27, 2014 as WWE Champion before losing that title to The Rock at the Royal Rumble) he’s at 435. But we’ll go with 434 for the purpose of our article, as it’s universally accepted by those watching and analyzing the product.
So if Brock Lesnar makes it to June 10, 2018, he’ll tie CM Punk’s run, and on June 11, he’ll break it. June 11, 2018 also happens to be a Monday night. This edition of Raw emanates from the Verizon Arena in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Brock Lesnar is nowhere to be found on the advertisement. That, of course, subject to change…provided WWE wants to spend $127k to be petty.
That would mean we get past Backlash (Brock Lesnar is not advertised and Roman Reigns will face Samoa Joe), and be done, as WWE Money In The Bank takes place on June 17, six days after Brock’s broken the record.
But there’s a bigger issue at hand, here.
CM Punk Held The WWE Championship, not the Universal Championship
To WWE, no. And there’s actually a precedent set for it.
WWE loves to brag about the ever growing list of Grand Slam Champions. Roman Reigns, Randy Orton, and Seth Rollins all joined that list in 2018, with Rollins’ addition coming when he won the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania.
But what does the “modern day” Grand Slam consist of…
- Intercontinental Championship
- United States Championship
- A Tag team Championship (currently one on each brand, Raw and Smackdown)
- A World Championship (currently WWE and Universal)
If WWE applies this interchangeability of championships to the Grand Slam distinction, what makes us think they’d stop there?
But What About Bruno Sammartino? Or Hulk Hogan?
WWE isn’t going to let that stop them. Hell, it didn’t stop CM Punk, who was already calling himself the longest reigning WWE Champion “of the modern era” during his 434 days. When did the “Modern Era” begin? Who the hell knows.
What we do know is that WWE won’t put themselves into a position to have to define it.
So if we accept that (and many of you won’t, but WWE will still hype it), we have another guy to discuss, and that’s AJ Styles.
Why Not Let AJ Styles Break It?
AJ Styles captured the WWE Championship on November 7, 2017, 173 days before this article was written. That puts AJ Styles at January 15, 2019, which is 16 days before the 2019 Royal Rumble. So if you want to do something else with that championship for WrestleMania, you still have an out. But WWE just turned Shinsuke Nakamura heel, and they’re probably giving him the title at Backlash.
Would WWE Really Be That Petty?
In a word, yes. Look at AJ Lee’s Divas Championship reign. AJ Lee held the Divas Championship for 295 days, which stood until Nikki Bella surpassed her at 301 (losing to Charlotte Flair). Nikki beat AJ by six days, meaning WWE took the belt off of Nikki Bella at the first available moment after she broke AJ Lee’s reign.
And AJ Lee is the wife of CM Punk, but she’s not actually CM Punk.
The fact of the matter is this. We might not even see Brock Lesnar before he breaks CM Punk’s record. But will it be mentioned? I’d bet he gets added to the June 11 edition of Raw, and Paul Heyman will deliver the promo to drive the “record” home.
Will the fans accept the new “record?” Honestly, in a worked sport, it doesn’t even matter. Especially not to WWE.
Did WWE Really Screw Up Roman Reigns’ Moment For This?
Brock Lesnar is inching closer and closer to the 434 days CM Punk was WWE Champion. Despite all of the inconsistencies in the story, you better believe Lesnar is surpassing this mark. In WWE’s mind, Roman’s reign (no pun intended…really) can wait. It won’t have to wait long, but it’s waiting.
Fight or Flight: The Ongoing Drama of The New Day in WWE
The angle that has everyone talking…
The New Day is at a crossroads, or so WWE would have everyone believe. The typically fun-loving trio has hit a wall and is contemplating quitting the company due to recent events involving Kofi Kingston’s pursuit of the WWE Championship.
It’s all storyline of course. Maybe Big E and Xavier Woods were instructed to vent on social media, or maybe they pitched the idea and WWE signed off on it. Either way, the three Superstars are likely not going anywhere any time soon. So what is the point of all this?
In a perfect world, unity is the most important thing. E, Woods and Kingston have had each other’s backs for nearly five years, making them the longest running faction in WWE history. No matter what challenges have come their way, they’ve faced them together. The New Day has always been about the whole, not the one.
To find that kind of loyalty in any walk of life is a rare thing indeed. But that’s especially true in the pro wrestling business, where tag teams and stables come and go all the time. Eventually, a talent’s gaze shifts from the group to a championship. The lust for that championship becomes all-encompassing and sooner or later, the faction falls apart.
It happened with Triple H in D-Generation X and Evolution. It also happened with Seth Rollins in The Shield. But these are just two examples where the prize became more important than the partnership.
But in the case of The New Day, this has not happened. Kofi’s world championship dreams lay dormant for many years before he finally got his shot versus Daniel Bryan. Kingston was a champion with his two best friends and that was enough for him. It was also enough for the fans.
Indeed, when the WWE faithful speculated on The New Day’s demise, Big E was often the one predicted as the breakout star. He was just too big and too charismatic to not stand out from his New Day brothers.
Most of the possible scenarios involving Big E included him turning heel, with Woods and Kingston perhaps remaining a tag team. It was similar to Batista’s turn on Evolution, except Big E would be the heavy. He would leave his best friends in ruins, while he rose to the top of WWE. So is that still a possibility?
As fans try to find some sort of deep meaning here, the conversation regarding The New Day’s breakup is returning to the forefront. While it’s indeed refreshing to see a faction that takes care of its own, The New Day is still comprised of competitive Superstars. Competitive Superstars want to win and that means taking every opportunity available to do just that.
So if the carrot of championship gold was dangled in front of Big E, would he bite? Most fans would likely say yes. Of the three, Big E is the one that seems to be the more inclined to go heel and take advantage of the situation. But is that really the case?
— Florida Man (@WWEBigE) March 20, 2019
Xavier Woods has never really been portrayed as the primary mastermind behind The New Day, but that’s exactly what he is. He is the architect of the group and just like Seth Rollins, he might jump at the chance to become the next big thing. So where does that leave Kofi?
Kofi is perhaps the least likely to go heel here. He’s just so likable and his character has so much heart, it’s hard to imagine WWE fans turning on him. Of course if Kingston were to side with Vince McMahon to not only get his title opportunity but also perhaps win it? Then all bets are off. Kofi Kingston would become public enemy No.1.
It’s definitely an intriguing proposition. Kingston has never had the chance to fully flex his muscles as a heel. He would surely be up to the test and he may just impress everyone with his range as a performer. But in the likelihood of possible outcomes, this is one that is perhaps slim at best.
The fact is that for many WWE fans, the time has come to look deeper. Simply destroying Kofi Kingston on a regular basis in order to get him over seems incredibly simple and frustratingly repetitive. There has to be more to it than that. Right? Even if Kofi wins the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 35, which many believe he will, does everything just go back to normal with The New Day afterward?
We have kept other skills on deck for a reason…. pic.twitter.com/3B2IrqKqrE
— ✈️ GDC Wed/Thurs✈️ (@XavierWoodsPhD) March 20, 2019
But in the imperfect world of WWE, the ends justify the means. Or they don’t at all. It really depends on what day of the week it is. On one hand, Woods and E look like cowards for wanting to just cut and run. Top babyfaces stay and fight. They battle to the death if it means never giving the heel the satisfaction of owning the day. Babyfaces have much more honor and pride than to just walk away.
However on the other hand, maybe it’s indeed Kofi who wants to stay and fight. He could suddenly begin to see Big E and Xavier Woods as cowards as well and even chastise them for it on TV. How could they even contemplate walking away when The New Day has never backed down from a fight? Just that attitude alone could be enough to cause Woods and E to turn heel on Kofi. Then The New Day would be in tatters, just like every faction before them.
But in this modern PC world, the idea of leaving because the job you love doesn’t love you back, is pitch perfect. Sometimes it’s not enough to stay the course and keep striving to be the best. Sometimes it’s best to know when to move on, if only for the sake of maintaining sanity.
Despite what the truth is here, it’s obvious that everyone is talking about this angle. Fans are invested and that’s the most important thing. Kofi Kingston is the right player in the right moment and the crowd is on this journey with him. They’re also with The New Day as a group. Every twist and turn adds even more compelling layers to this storyline. Whether or not it will all mean anything in the end, remains to be seen.
Gunz: Roman Reigns Is Killing Seth Rollins
Has the return of Roman Reigns derailed Seth Rollins?
Has the return of Roman Reigns to WWE television (and storylines) derailed the momentum of Seth Rollins? See what Korey Gunz has to say about that!
Just two months ago, Seth Rollins stood in the middle of the ring as the winner of the Royal Rumble. Always a guy that would deliver in the ring, and having been long considered the workhorse of the WWE by most fans and deserving of “the push,” Rollins seemed poised to ride a wave of momentum into WrestleMania to face Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship, slay “The Beast,” and truly become the face of the next evolution in the WWE.
That seems like ages ago now. In this “what have you done lately” world, it feels like a distant memory. The momentum that Rollins once had appears to be waning. The groundswell of support for the Architect to be crowned “the man” seems muted now. Granted, some of that is probably due to Rollins’ latest unfortunate injury keeping him out of in-ring action for a month, and it is also due to the absence of the champion he is supposed to be building a heated rivalry with for the biggest show of the year. But the real proverbial fork in the road on Rollins’ road to WrestleMania came from an unlikely and undoubtedly unforeseen source- Roman Reigns.
Make no mistake, this is not about Joe Anoa’i, the person. You are a liar if you can with a straight face that you didn’t feel for the man when he made his cancer announcement back in October, or that you weren’t happy for him when he announced his return. Whether you cheer or boo the character Roman Reigns, you can’t help but have respect for the man.
However, you can’t deny that when Roman announced his return to the ring on February 25, things changed. The trajectory felt different. Take the Fastlane pay-per-view for instance. The focus shifted from the build up to WrestleMania to the latest hot shot reunion of the Shield. Roman was back, Dean Ambrose’s dramatic heel turn that took place the same night of Roman’s cancer diagnosis was quickly nullified (talk about coming full circle), and Seth Rollins was suddenly thrown back into a group he had supposedly, finally, outgrown.
Like it or not, Roman Reigns is viewed by the common fan as the “leader” of the Shield. Rollins might be a solid 1-A at best, but for the general audience he was always looked at as #2. That’s why he was first turned heel against his brothers five years ago in the first place. Roman was the next big babyface, and an Ambrose turn was too predictable. Plus, in Ambrose’s case, he was actually probably better off as a crazy babyface character anyway if his recent heel run was any indication. Rollins was the one who needed that “umph.” And he got it, to be sure. But now fast forward to 2019, and it’s hard to be groomed as The Beast Slayer and heir to the Universal Title throne when you’re hastily thrown back into a stable that you are not even perceived as the leader of, and four weeks out from your WrestleMania main event no less.
Want more proof? Look no further than this past Monday’s RAW. The opening segment, featuring the Universal Champion Brock Lesnar and advocate Paul Heyman trying to hype the match with Rollins for Mania, is interrupted by Drew McIntyre so he can challenge Roman Reigns. Rollins then comes out to beat up McIntyre to set up a match between the two for later, that Rollins loses (albeit with interference from Brock) so they can build the angle that Reigns is the last Shield member for McIntyre to beat- THE member. In many ways, you could argue Seth/Brock took a backseat to Roman/McIntyre, and Roman wasn’t even there!
In no way do I fault Roman for this situation. His comeback is a real life feel good moment for sure. But the residual effect it has had on Rollins’ momentum is palpable. The Big Dog has certainly taken a bite out of his push, and maybe even the chances of Rollins getting his true “moment” at Mania. If they really wanted to anoint Rollins as a flag bearer for the company, I think they should have held off Reigns’ return until after WrestleMania.
Follow Korey on Twitter @KoreyGunz
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