The last week has been the week of talking, with three major talking segments of varying quality. That had me thinking about some kind of a look at all three of them and some kind of comparison, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. One promo segment was reaching all time status and there was no point in trying to compare (or even contrast) the other two as it might as well have been on another planet. Today we’re going to bask in some promoing glory, which is something everyone needs to do every now and then.
Last week featured an all timer of a battle on the mics as CM Punk and MJF went at it to open Dynamite. This is the kind of thing that had fans drooling as soon as Punk’s music interrupted MJF the week before. These are two of the best talkers, especially trash talkers, in the world and I think everyone knew we were going to be in for an instant classic between the two of them.
What made this even better was the fact that it delivered on almost all points. This was everything that you wanted to see (and hear) and the nearly twenty plus minutes flew by. Today we’re going to take a look at some of the better lines and insults, along with why the whole thing worked. It’s so strange to have a situation without much to complain about but they managed to pull it off.
The biggest thing that mattered here was the feeling that came with the participants. On top of all of the great lines and burns that they got in on each other, this felt like two top stars going at it. I know MJF might not have the best physical look and comes off more like a weasel than anything else. That’s the kind of thing that makes for some of the best talkers, as it gives you so much more of a reason to want to see someone smack MJF upside the head and put him in his place.
On the other side you have Punk, whose reputation tends to speak for itself. Punk went from a popular star to a megastar because of one promo while sitting on a stage (I’m still not sure what was up with the Steve Austin shirt but that’s a different story). This time around he was in his hometown and had everyone in the arena behind him. Throw in the overall atmosphere and you had two masters who looked ready to tear into each other on national television.
With the stage set, it was time to see what the two of them had, and that meant it was time to start throwing bombs. It was MJF’s turn first and he went with something fairly obvious by insulting Punk’s failed UFC career. That wasn’t exactly the kind of thing that you go with against Punk, who called MJF out on it. MJF had a whole week and that’s the best he had? Punk wasn’t impressed and that’s why he had his own line.
Punk came back by saying that MJF was “a less famous Miz” and you knew it was on. That’s the kind of line that you do not get to hear very often, as even AEW rarely takes verbal shots on WWE on the air. It made the fans gasp, it made me gasp and it made MJF flinch, as Miz is (undeservedly) almost a punchline in wrestling. That’s the kind of thing that left you wanting more, and that’s what we got.
It was back to MJF and he too had a bunch of WWE references, suggesting that Punk was now nothing more than a John Cena ripoff who should be teaching hustle, loyalty and respect. I’m not sure how intentional that it was, but this is similar to the kind of insult that Punk once made to Cena, saying that Cena had gone from himself as the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees (violence ensued, as you might expect). It tied back into Punk’s history with his greatest rival while also looking at just how much Punk has changed since his return. This is the nice Punk, but at some point he can be pushed over the edge.
Punk had been pushed a bit too far again and came back swinging, saying that MJF had always keep talking as much as he wanted but he doesn’t realize that Britt Baker is now the fourth pillar of AEW. The only way he was going to be able to become the face of the company was if Tony Khan had a daughter he could marry (good for a second hard knockdown). Punk was ready to fight but MJF bailed (as he should have) to wrap everything up.
As simple as the ending is, it is exactly how things should have gone. No one would expect MJF to get physical with Punk here, at least not without Wardlow around, which Punk touched on as well. It was the logical way to go after the epic showdown and showed that Punk knew MJF a bit more than MJF might have expected. It isn’t much, but I can always go for doing things as they should be done.
The final part that helped here was that neither felt like the definitive winner. You have probably seen (if not participated in) debates over who won the exchange in the first place. While I would lean towards Punk, MJF got in more than his share of great lines, including some that had Punk saying he was right. That’s a lot more of a concession than you might expect from Punk so you know MJF was on to something here.
You could go either way with the winner here, but it isn’t like either of them was completely burying the other. It was a back and forth exchange as you kept waiting to see what the other one would come up with next. Something at this level is rare enough in the first place but to have two people who are going toe to toe makes it that much more impressive, which was the case here.
This whole thing was so good that even WWE had to reference it during Edge vs. Miz (one of the other two aforementioned promo segments of the week, along with Liv Morgan vs. Becky Lynch). That’s getting into some territory that is almost never touched so you know it was good. The fact that WWE didn’t even bother to take any serious shots at the thing is another layer of icing on the cake.
All in all, it’s hard to come up with anything close to a real criticism for the thing. They were both feeling it, both of them laid into the other, neither of them came out looking worse and they didn’t even go too far with the WWE references (your mileage may vary on that one). It left me not even caring to see these two fight at the end of the whole thing, as I could go for them talking to each other in various ways for about the next twenty seven or so years. It really was that good and deserves all of the praise in the world, which thankfully it seems to be getting.
This was such a masterclass exchange that I’m running out of ways to praise it. I don’t remember the last time I was in such awe of an exchange since maybe the John Cena vs. Roman Reigns in 2017, which was a heck of a lot more one sided than this. You had two people who knew exactly what they were supposed to be doing going out there and doing it and it was what the people wanted to see. I know we’re going to have a match between the two of them one day and if this doesn’t get the interest going, nothing will. Check this out again if you somehow haven’t seen it, because you might not see anything like it for a long time.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 60,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 6,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.
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