Here is a recap from the WWE Backstage show from last night on Fox Sports 1. I don’t get Fox Sports 1 in Canada, so I was unable to watch it live, but now it’s Thursday morning and I was able to download it on a streaming site. I’m not going to say what site. I don’t want them to get shut down! Anyway, since it is the first episode with CM Punk on the show as a regular panelist, I figure it would be worth writing a recap. I’ll insert clips from the excellent WWE on Fox Youtube page where appropriate as well.
The show began with host Renee Young, co-host Booker T, also another regular co-host Paige and former NXT Women’s Champion Ember Moon.
There was a big boot on Moon’s right foot. Moon revealed that she has a ruptured Achilles and tore it off the bone, so she’s “done” and she gets to hang out with them. Moon said she doesn’t have a timeline because different doctors said anywhere from four months to 8-9 months.
Analysis: It sucks for Moon. The 8-9 months timeline is more likely for the length of absence. Xavier Woods has the same injury. I’ll miss her in the ring, but hope she gets through this and gets a big that she deserves.
They showed a video with highlights of the last week of WWE shows.
Booker T praised Kevin Owens saying that he has everything to be one of the best superstars in WWE and he can be a top five superstar in the company. Moon praised NXT and said they have a huge week, so she’s excited about it. Paige talked about how Samoa Joe did a great job on commentary on Raw. Paige spoke about how big Survivor Series is for NXT. Moon talked about how she wished the stakes were higher for Survivor Series where they could do something where there’s a scramble for the winning team to earn #30 in the Royal Rumble. Booker talked about how it’s a big night for the company.
They showed some behind the scenes footage of CM Punk walking onto the WWE Backstage set as a surprise guest. They showed some reactions from people as well.
CM Punk Interview
Punk entered to his “Cult of Personality” song and he joked that “it’s clobbering time” like he did prior to entering for a match. Punk was seated in a chair with Renee Young for an interview.
Punk said that he didn’t think this job existed six months ago, let alone six years ago and it got offered to him. Punk said somebody flirted the idea to him, then he didn’t say “no” and that let him think it could be interesting and it snowballed from there, so here we are. Young pointed out that it’s been six years away from wrestling. Punk said that wrestling and what he’s doing now are two completely different things. Punk said he does not work with, have any kind of relationship or talked to anybody in WWE and this is strictly a deal with Fox. He thinks that is an interesting dynamic as somebody that is not employed by WWE. He said he gets to criticize the product and he thinks that is what made him popular. Punk added that he has no filter between his mouth and his brain, he’s always been this way, so this is something he has felt he can do and maybe find his way in the business again. Punk said there’s a lot of stuff that is broken, but what he thinks what the product, business and fans need is somebody that’s going to tell it like it is. Punk said it’s corny to say “voice of the voiceless” (a phrase he used in wrestling promos earlier in the decade) and he noted that he’s not going to get fired or jobbed out or sent to TV to be told he’s not needed. Punk said if it’s good then he’ll be excited about it, but if it’s bad you’ll probably be mad at him. Young noted that fans want that honesty from him.
Young asked Punk about his surprise appearance on last week’s show. Punk said he hated when the office worked the boys like when the Nexus debuted and they wouldn’t tell him anything, so Punk and Gallows didn’t know what to do because he thought they would be fighting back. They showed the behind the scenes footage of Punk being brought into the studio last week. Punk said he was nervous, which leads him to think he’s doing the right thing. Punk talked about how he’s a guy that wrestled The Undertaker at WrestleMania (WM29 in 2013) and he was talking to his future wife (AJ Lee) telling him his music was playing, but he said he would rather talk to her. It was Punk’s way of saying he may have lost his passion for performing. Punk added that the butterflies last week were a good thing because it showed he’s not dead inside.
They showed highlights of Punk behind the scenes last week. The videos were posted on WWE on Fox Youtube channel and social media.
Punk talked about how you get nervous and everybody gets nervous. Punk said that wrestling is something that he mastered, he was really good at and he felt like he was better than everybody else, so nothing fazed him. Punk said that so far he has had nothing but fun. Young asked how many people in his inner circle knew he would be on WWE Backstage last week. Punk said his inner circle is very, very small now and the people that were work acquaintances end up falling to the wayside. Punk said his wife knew, Renee knew and maybe 10-12 people knew. Renee said it was fun. Punk talked about the reactions while saying he loved Paige and Renee’s reactions while Samoa Joe tried to keep his cool. Punk joked that he thought about doing a Shockmaster fall for his entrance. Punk said he’s at a point in his life where can pick and choose where he works and he doesn’t have to work with jerks. When asked who reached out to him, Punk mentioned former WWE announcer Jim Ross, who he claims he still talks to all the time.
Young asked Punk if he is going to step back in the ring while noting Survivor Series is in his hometown of Chicago and Royal Rumble is around the corner, so people love surprises. Punk said regardless of what his answer is, somebody is going to be upset with it. Punk said he works with Fox, he hasn’t talked with anybody in WWE and it’s nothing that he is actively pursuing or interested in. Punk noted he is 41 years old, so he’s lived and experienced a lot in life to know not to say no. Punk said there are a lot of hurdles to clear and bridges to built before he could come back and noted it could take as long as building the Great Wall of China. Young joked that somebody is out there saying “you’re telling me there’s a chance.” Punk said don’t do that because they will chant CM Punk’s name at shows, people will be upset about it and so on. Young said it’s a “never say never” situation.
Punk said that the product is the same as when he left it. Punk thinks that wrestling could be so much better and so much more. Punk said there’s a reason that people fell in love with professional wrestling. Regardless of what he thinks now, it’s the same as when he was there adding that stuff is micro-managed, things are overproduced and what fans loved are the characters that figure stuff out themselves. He said there’s a lot wrong with it, but he sees bright spots. When asked what he likes, Punk said he likes the women’s wrestling, but thinks the “women’s revolution” stuff is forced and they’ll show you why they kick ass. Punk said you don’t need a hashtag label on everything. Punk talked about how he really liked NXT where the characters still feel new like the new toys and reminds him more of the indy days. Punk commented on how there’s a lot of wrestling on TV these days. Renee thanked Punk for the interview.
Analysis: I really like what he said about WWE’s product being overproduced and micromanaged. I strongly agree with that sentiment. Punk was honest about not having a deal with WWE right now, but he sounds like if WWE gave him a call and had the right offer for a storyline, maybe he would be willing to come back. It wouldn’t shock me if he does return to a WWE ring perhaps next year. If you asked me six months ago I don’t think I would have said that, but my opinion on that has changed.
There was a clip of David Arquette winning the WCW World Title in 2000.
David Arquette was in the studio for their “Promo School” segment. Arquette said he was a wrestling fan and he loved being there. Punk said he didn’t think he had to give David a lot of advice becuase he knows what he is doing. Ember Moon suggested Arquette have high energy in the promo and Paige introduced Booker T as the opponent. Booker T had the WCW World TItle on his shoulder.
Arquette did a promo telling Booker that he was the WCW Champion before Booker, which is true. Arquette said he’s been in the all the Scream movies and he can make him Scream too, but maybe he can do that to Booker’s wife. Arquette had a line about how his family is in the acting business, his sister won an Oscar, but she didn’t carry him as much as Stevie Ray carried Booker T. Arquette said that Booker should have given up his career after WCW and then said sorry that’s not nice to say. Arquette joked that if CM Punk goes back to wrestling, maybe the fans will chant David Arquette when they see something they don’t like. That was funny, so everybody laughed. Arquette said that he may have had a terrible wrestling career, but it was way better than CM Punk’s MMA career. They laughed. Arquette said it took a lot of guts to step in the ring (or cage). Arquette rambled on about Punk doing some Vanity Fair interview or whatever. Arquette said that maybe you’re not supposed to say this in a promo, he loved Booker.
The panel gave grades to Arquette. Renee gave Arquette a D+, CM Punk gave him an F- and said Arquette should have gone further with the MMA talk. Punk said this felt more like a Battle Rap. Moon gave Arquette a C- grade. Paige said she was the kindest because she gave Arquette a C and said he went on too long. Arquette joked those are better grades than he got in school.
Analysis: The judges were harsh, but Arquette did ramble on a bit. I would agree with the C grade that Paige gave him.
Booker T trashed Arquette saying he was wearing a jacket like Tito Jackson and he was the one that never got the girl, kind of like David. Booker spoke about how Arquette did movies like Scream, Ready to Rumble and Eight Legged Freaks, but in the last 20 years his movies went straight to DVD. Booker said it was April 26, 2000 the man showed up in WCW and he walked away with the WCW World Title. After the match in the dressing room, he was sitting there with Booker T and he asked Booker T how many times he’s won the World Championship. Booker said he hasn’t won it yet. Arquette went out there the next night and said that people like Booker T deserved the title. Booker said that he loved Arquette because he was a spark that helped light the flame. Booker said he couldn’t go hard on him and he praised Arquette for talking nice about Booker T back in the day. Booker said he loved him. There were no grades for Booker’s promo.
Analysis: Arquette is a legit wrestling fan. I know people trash him for winning the WCW Title, but it wasn’t his decision to win it. My favorite story from that is that after Arquette won the title, he donated the money he made from WCW to the families of Brian Pillman and Owen Hart since both wrestlers passed away. That was a very classy move by him. Clearly, Booker has a lot of respect for David as well and that’s cool to see.
There was a video about boxer Tyson Fury’s recent WWE appearances.
They showed a clip of boxer Deontay Wilder talking about how he could see himself being a part of WWE one day. Wilder said that he had the character to perform in that environment. Wilder said he wouldn’t turn it down if an offer came his way.
The panel of Young, Booker, Punk and Paige talked about recent WWE TV. They showed a clip of Baron Corbin’s lame opening segment on Smackdown with the “Big Dog” mascot.
Punk said the less said about that segment the better and joked that it makes him reconsider doing the show. Punk said you can’t possibly defend that. Punk said that the creative was bad and he doesn’t know much about Corbin as a newer guy, so he has to check him out, but that’s a bad start. Punk said it was garbage and he wanted Paige to criticize it, but she didn’t say much.
Analysis: That opening segment was absolutely terrible. Good for Punk for criticizing it and I wish the others would have as well. I know last week the panel criticized the Rusev/Lashley/Lana story, they are allowed to be critical on this show.
Booker said in the men’s Survivor Series match, he sees Mustafa Ali as a guy that has so much talent and he’s going to shine.
Paige said in the women’s triple threat match between Becky Lynch, Bayley and Shayna Baszler, she thinks Bayley should be the one that wins that much. Paige said Baszler is strong, Becky is the queen right now and Bayley needs a little elevation in this match.
Punk talked about the Lesnar/Mysterio match for the WWE Title. Punk said this is something that the fans are going to be happy with. Punk said Rey is phenomenal and he loves him while Brock motivated is amazing. This match could give the fans what they want and they can tell a story that the medium of pro wrestling only can. Punk said that the Chicago crowd can be the third person in the ring and elevate the match as well as the entire product.
They talked about the Universal Title match with “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt and Daniel Bryan. Booker said that Bryan is the perfect matchup for Wyatt while saying that he used to talk about Bryan earlier in his career. Booker said we’ll see the full maximum of talent that Bryan has. CM Punk said the blue title looks stupid, but Paige wouldn’t say anything about it. They showed a tweet from the band Living Colour praising CM Punk and Punk talked about how “Cult of Personality” has been his theme song since little league baseball 30 years ago.
Analysis: I don’t mind the blue Universal Title. I think it looks better than the red Universal Title, quite frankly.
Commercial break. @ReneeYoungWWE is really good at her job.
— player/coach (@CMPunk) November 20, 2019
Young talked about how Punk was one of the most popular wrestlers in WWE and the response was like nothing we have ever seen.
There was a video package showing highlights of Punk’s debut last week along with social media reaction. They also showed some fans at Smackdown talking about Punk’s return with people saying they were shocked, they cried and they were so happy about it. The video featured fans talking about how they want to wrestle again. Punk was touched by what a little girl said at the end.
CM Punk Addresses Seth Rollins
Punk and Young were on the stage with Young setting up the Seth Rollins discussion after Punk’s appearance last week. Punk was asked what Seth is missing right now. Punk said he would like to keep his journalistic integrity intact. Punk said that Seth needs to stop tweeting and realize that sometimes it’s better to be viewed at as a fool that shuts his mouth instead of opening your mouth and remove all doubt. Young talked about the Shield guys, so Punk asked her who her favorite was and Young joked she liked them all equally. (Shoutout to her husband, the former Dean Ambrose!) Punk said it’s a hard job being in a top spot because oversaturation comes to mind. Punk said it’s hard to stay fresh and constantly reinvent yourself. He said sometimes that can wear on fans. Young mentioned Punk being in a top spot with his significant other (AJ Lee) and asked if that is hard to balance since Rollins is engaged to Becky Lynch. Punk said it’s super hard to balance because when you’re on the road that’s where you see eachother often, so that’s a good thing at least. Punk’s advice to Rollins is just to go off Twitter and just delete it off your phone. Renee said that’s a good move every once in a while. Punk told him to take a break and said you’re not doing yourself any favors.
Analysis: The response to Rollins was interesting. It’s hard for wrestlers to delete Twitter because WWE wants wrestlers engaging with fans while also pushing storylines on social media. I think Punk means just cut back on trying to argue with people because it hasn’t done Rollins any favors of late. It’s good advice from Punk.
The panel was standing in the ring for some Social Media Smackdown.
They showed a tweet from actor Tom Arnold trashing CM Punk last week with a line about how Punk is only 150 pounds now.
Punk did a promo ripping Tom Arnold saying what seventh level of hell did he get to where Tom Arnold is tweeting him and Seth Rollins too. Punk joked that he didn’t want that. Punk said if he wanted shit from Tom he would scrape his tongue. Punk said that Tom Arnold had a tattoo on his chest of Roseanne that he covered with a tattoo of Stephen King. Punk said he loses the stupid tattoo contest like he would lose a promo contest. Punk said he didn’t care if he was 150 pounds or 200 pounds because Tom couldn’t even take him bowling! Good line. Punk told Tom to take his LA Dodgers hat wearing ass out of there before he throws him out the front door and told him to search for relevancy somewhere else Seth…I mean Tom! The girls were all marking out and screaming about the awesome promo.
Booker: “He said Seth! He’s trying to get back in the ring!” Punk just laughed about it: “No. Freudian slip.” Punk said he’s sure. Renee pointed out that Punk swore, then they said you can’t swear and Punk said it’s in his contract that he can swear. Young thanked the fans for watching to end the show.
After the show was over, Seth Rollins responded to Punk with the tweet you see below.
HELL of a “response.” 🙄. Coward. https://t.co/kJ9vKm3zhI
— Seth Rollins (@WWERollins) November 20, 2019
I guess Seth is not deleting Twitter! That’s my take on that.
I thought it was a great show that was easy to watch and also very entertaining due to the promo segments they have to help make it feel more fun. The sitdown interview with Punk and Young was very interesting with Punk talking about how maybe one day he could return to the ring, but he wasn’t openly saying he was definitely going to come back. I think Renee asked him the right questions.
The CM Punk comments about Seth Rollins are very interesting. It wouldn’t surprise me if they are actually friends and maybe this is all part of some storyline leading to Punk appearing at the Royal Rumble, maybe he takes out Rollins in that match and then they set up a WrestleMania match. It’s an easy story to tell. Any time this sort of thing happens on a WWE show, even though Punk says he’s only being paid by Fox, it’s worth raising an eyebrow to wonder if there is something going on that we don’t know about. If Punk returns to the ring, I think Rollins is a logical opponent for a big match. I don’t know if it will ever happen, but it sure makes a lot of sense to me.
If I were to offer some criticism it would be that I think maybe they could spend more time talking about WWE storylines, what’s working and what’s not working. Stuff like that. I would love to hear Punk’s thoughts on more of the talent like a Shorty G (plus his thoughts on that name) or Matt Riddle or guys like that. It would have been fun to hear Punk offer an opinion on The Fiend character or his old rival Daniel Bryan as well because when that topic came up, Punk didn’t say much other than he disliked the blue title.
Anyway, I enjoyed the show. They have a lot of fun doing it and you can tell that just by watching it. I’m sure this will be the most-watched episode they have had so far and the audience should continue to grow as long as CM Punk is on there.