We didn’t preview CM Punk’s MMA debut on this week’s show, though we should have. People are talking about his refusal to shake Mickey Gall’s hand at the weigh-in and it ties in with how I feel about CM Punk in UFC.
Does he seem like a dick? Sure does. Does he seem a bit too confident at times? Sure does. But tonight, the guy from the fake sport gets in the octagon to prove he’s for real- and what does Gall do after months of talking shit? Sticks out his hand.
In wrestling it’s understood that trash talk happens and sometimes gets personal because in the end they’re working together to hype a performance. Punk has refused to trash talk (in his position I don’t blame him) and Gall has taken some personal jabs. I’ve always had an issue with UFC fighters talking smack and getting personal, only to hug and be respectful after the fight. Were you only saying those things to sell me a ticket? Sure, wrestling does it, but it’s all part of a story. In MMA it feels, dare I say……fake? Gall was either being fake when taking shots just to sell the fight, or by offering the respectful handshake. So it was nice to see Punk, the “fake wrestler” refuse to play ball.
People may take issue with how he conducts himself, or with his attitude, or being an untested fighter getting a big fight contract with the top promotion in the world. All fair points. But he has more guts than most of the people criticizing him online, on TV, or in print, myself included. My hat is off to him.
I’ve heard many wrestling and MMA people alike saying they want to see him slaughtered by Gall. I understand where people are coming from, but it’s mostly an emotional response. Think about what he does for wrestling by having a good showing tonight. It will be a bit harder for the dicks who can’t wait to tell you how fake wrestling is and how pro wrestlers are p*ssies to do so if he wins, but much easier if he gets chewed up.
Think about the big picture before judging him for things he said after leaving a business he felt tossed him aside after giving his prime, life, and body to. So what if he called wrestling fake? As far as fight sports, it is. And when most intelligent people discuss wrestling as fake, they’re talking about the unrealistic fighting between the ropes, not the very real toll the art form takes on those brave enough to attempt it.
As Phil CM Punk Brooks gets ready to make his UFC debut at tonight’s UFC 203, I wish him luck and a safe debut fight. For the first time, he climbs into a situation where no promoter, executive, HR Representative, marketing team, writer, agent, or Chairman can determine his fate. It’s all up to Punk and Gall.
The first Christmas I can recall has few crystal clear memories. One that remains is my three-year-old self trying to unroll the poster that came with my Mr. Fuji LJN figure. I can remember the smell of the rubber man in the tuxedo, feel the plastic toy cane accessory, and remember the thought that my figures had “the Devious One” to lead them to victory. Mr. Fuji may not have the legacy of a Bobby Heenan or a J.J. Dillon but he was very special for numerous reasons.
Mr. Fuji was an attraction from a special time when wrestling was like the wild-west. His character would not exist in today’s PC culture. He exploited post-World War II anti-Japanese sentiments to become a hot heel for decades. Even into the 80’s he was still known to mention Pearl Harbor, on occasion.
Mr. Fuji was a tag-team champion on numerous occasions. Few men have held WWWF (or WWF) tag-team gold on the number of occasions he has or with a greater number of partners. Maybe Tony Garea can boast that record, but the list of possible candidates is short.
After transitioning to a managerial role, and donning his trademark tuxedo, he was associated with some of the biggest stars in the “Rock and Wrestling” era. He starred in “Fuji Vice” with Don Muraco, one of the WWF’s first non-traditional promotional segments. It was so bad, yet so good, fans still recall it to this day.
When Roddy Piper turned heel, Mr. Fuji had challengers lined up for “the Hot Rod”. He even took on “the Rowdy One” in select house show attractions across the country, showing his marquee-value long after his physical prime.
We fondly recount Demolition’s record setting reign as tag-team champions but often overlook the man who led them to glory. Not only did Mr. Fuji manage the powerhouse team, he was responsible for their face turn in 1988. Ditching Demolition for the baby face tandem of the Powers of Pain, resulted in one of the first “double turns” on WWF programming. He then teamed with his new protégés in his only WrestleMania match to take on Demolition for the Tag-Team titles at WrestleMania 5.
He managed several others into the 90’s and like other times we thought his star had faded, a new sun rose on Mr. Fuji’s horizon. Yokozuna hit the WWF like a meteor in 1992 and at his side was none other than “the Devious One” himself. Ditching the tuxedo in favor of a kimono, Fuji led Yokozuna to the WWF title in 1993. It was the first time a Samoan wrestler held the title.
After health issues ended his career we thought we had seen the last of Mr. Fuji’s influence. We were wrong. In 1999 The Big Bossman kidnapped Al Snow’s pet Chihuahua, Pepper, during their memorable feud. To bury the hatchet, Bossman invited Snow to his hotel room for dinner. After the meal, Bossman informed Al that he had just eaten Pepper Steak. This was taken from a notorious Mr. Fuji story involving his own neighbor’s dog. Some would argue he deserves a second Hall of Fame induction for his ribs alone.
As I hold that same LJN figure in my hand, I can feel myself playing with my figures while watching WWF on Saturday mornings. I can see Mr. Fuji flanking his clients. I can feel the joy that wrestling has given me. Most of all, I hear the legendary prankster, character, and entertainer, shouting his trademark phrase: “BANZAI!!!”