For over a century, professional wrestling has been based on the concept of “good vs. evil.” The “good” guys, or fan favourites, fight within the rules, and behave in a way that encouraged the audience to support them. The “bad” guys, or unpopular athletes, use devious and illegal tactics (like a low blow, or weapons) when the referee’s attention is diverted, to sometimes win a match. Another way to differentiate between fan favourites and unpopular wrestlers is in a “pre-match promo.” In the promos, the “bad” guys insult the town and audiences, and this turns the crowd against them.

However, there are times where one of the fan favourites does something that is within the rules, and gets booed for it. That is what happened to C.M. Punk, and it has me wondering ‘why is he not being cheered, for playing by the rules?’

It all began on June 7, 2009, at the WWE Extreme Rules Pay-Per-View. The main event featured Edge defending the World Heavyweight Championship against Jeff Hardy, in a Ladder Match. The first wrestler to climb a ladder and retrieve of the championship belt, which was hanging above the ring, was declared the winner. After a spectacular battle, Jeff Hardy emerged victorious – becoming the new World Heavyweight Champion.

Unfortunately, Hardy’s jubilation was short-lived. C.M Punk ran down to the ring, and dramatically informed the referee he was cashing in his Wrestlemania “Money in the Bank” contract. Fans in attendance were astonished. Punk won the championship, and the crowd responded with a chorus of boos.

That epic moment at Extreme Rules started the rivalry between the two wrestlers – Punk and Hardy. At Smackdown, Punk stated that he took advantage of an opportunity, and knew the winner of the Ladder match would be exhausted. The crowd at the show, again, voiced its disapproval.

On the July 17 edition of Smackdown, Punk was in the ring, talking about an upcoming match with Jeff. They were verbally attacking each other. Punk was telling the truth in relating Jeff’s real-life mistakes -some of which included, being intoxicated, and substance abuse. Punk also stated that Hardy had two strikes against him, while he had none. He mentioned that Jeff constantly makes mistakes, and gets cheered, while he (Punk) does not drink or do drugs, and still gets booed. I know the crowd can choose whomever they wish to cheer. But I think that since C.M. Punk is truthful, upright, and clean, he should be the favourite, instead of Jeff.

Throughout this rivalry, I have been cheering for Punk, even though he is considered the “bad” guy. I support him, mainly because of his honesty, when referring to Jeff.  He also took advantage of an opportunity at Extreme Rules, by cashing in his “Money in the Bank” contract, after Jeff went through a tiring Ladder Match.

The “good vs. evil” dynamic will always be part of professional wrestling. It will always be the fans’ choice as to who they cheer. Sometimes, they choose to cheer a “bad” guy, thus turning him into someone likable. An example is “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, who was originally a “bad” guy. He swore, he drank, he humiliated his boss (in the storylines), and stood up to the establishment. The fans appreciated his courage, began cheering him, and he eventually turned into a “good” guy. But, C.M. Punk is still a “bad” guy, even though he says and does all the right things.

Playing by the rules should qualify him to fall into the category of “good” guy. Unfortunately, he still not considered one. I also believe that when people play by the rules, and take advantage of opportunities, they should be applauded. Progress usually occurs if a person is good, honourable, demonstrates respect and integrity. Unfortunately, that is not always so with wrestling.

Azeem Kayum

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