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I’m totally marking out for WWE programming right now. This has been my favorite period of WWE television since Shawn Michaels retired. A guy that used Twitter to get over and two guys I watched with dozens of other people at Ring of Honor shows are holding championship belts. I love that three guys that work hard and genuinely connect with fans are getting pushed by WWE. While I have an aching suspicion that at least one of the three championship reigns will be short, I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts. Join me as I reflect on three of the current WWE champions.
Zack Ryder United States Champion: I wrote a bit about the crazy phenomenon of Ryder a few weeks ago. As an Internet nerd, I have to give it up to a guy that used Twitter outreach and YouTube videos to connect with fans. I completely respect and admire what he did; WWE management wasn’t giving him an opportunity to shine, so he took matters into his own hands and created his own success. While I’m happy for Ryder, it’s not the same level of excitement I feel for the next two champions.
CM PUNK WWE Champion: I know that a few of you are down on Punk because of his size, but you can’t question his in-ring ability or deny the fact that he has cut the best promos in WWE all year. As you probably know, I’m partial to Ring of Honor alumni and love when those guys do well in bigger companies. Punk also gets mad bonus points for posing with some of my Pokemon dolls for a Games Radar article I did back in the day. I love that my photos of Punk and my Pokemon are on the first page of Google results when you do an image search for “CM Punk”.
Punk is just a great wrestler that has worked hard to get one of the top spots in the business. I think it’s great that he’s old school. I love that he prefers the term “pro-wrestling” over “sports entertainment”. It was nice that he wore a Randy Savage outfit and started incorporating Savage’s elbow drop shortly after Macho Man passed away. Even though I generally don’t trust people who drink, I think Punk is awesome. He’s my second-favorite straight-edge person.
Daniel Bryan World Heavyweight Champion: Before WWE re-branded him as Daniel Bryan, Bryan Danielson was one of my favorite Ring of Honor wrestlers. I believe he’s one of the top three wrestlers in WWE today. His game is just so diverse, mixing outstanding mat wrestling, high-flying moves, and modern MMA twists. Yeah, he’s still finding his way on the mic, but he’s getting a lot better (something John Morrison never did). More importantly, his wrestling is so good that fans connect with him and want to see him do well. It’s weird seeing him (fake) tan and wearing more black than red these days, but he’ll always be “The American Dragon” Bryan Danielson to me — one of the best wrestlers I’ve seen live.
I love the photo above from CM Punk’s Twitter feed. Seeing Punk and Danielson with the two major WWE straps gives me warm fuzzies. It’s great seeing two guys that are superiors wrestlers make it to the top. It’s sweet that two guys that have known each other for more than a decade and have wrestled in hundreds of high-school gyms are headlining shows that are watched by millions of people. In many ways, the photo reminds me of when Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit held those belts. Similar to how Punk and Danielson made their way through the indie scene together, Guerrero and Benoit went from ECW to WCW to WWE together. The two were also great wrestlers that were on the small side. When Benoit and Guerrero were celebrating with their titles at WrestleMania XX, I remember thinking, “Damn. That’s a lot of confetti,” and also, “It feels nice to see that the right guys have the belts.”
Sadly, I don’t have a ton of faith in WWE creative to leave the strap on Danielson. Hell, he only has it now because Mark Henry suffered a groin injury and they had to quickly rewrite the match. It’s too early to tell, but I fear he’ll just be a transitional champion.
I don’t know how long these three WWE Superstars will keep their championships, but it’s great to see that, once again, the right guys have won.