22 June 2012

Promos By Hyphen: Is It Time For CM Punk To Lose The WWE Title?

Promos By Hyphen: Is It Time For CM Punk To Lose The WWE Title?

As big of a CM Punk fan I've become in the past year, I can't help but complain about him. But unlike last time, I see this complaint as no fault of his own (Unless he's genuinely is pulling strings backstage to remain champ. Unlikely.) as this time, blame is placed squarely on the writers.

Why won't WWE let Punk lose the title?

Don't get me wrong, I love seeing my favorite wrestler with the belt. I felt the same way when I saw Randy Orton carrying the belt during his epic heel run from a few years back where he punted the whole McMahon-Helmsley family. I mean, who doesn't want to cheer for a winner? There's nothing like seeing your guy wearing the most prestigious belt in the company, especially when he's a face.

Punk's title reign stands at 215 days at this point. He won the title from Alberto Del Rio at Survivor Series in November 2011. At the pay-per-views since, he's beaten Alberto Del Rio (again) and The Miz (twice), Dolph Ziggler (twice, and a few times on TV), Chris Jericho (three times!), Kofi Kingston, R-Truth, Daniel Bryan, and Kane following No Way Out on Sunday. That list alone is a collective who's who of the WWE Universe and includes 2 future hall of famers in Jericho and Kane. There's no arguments that can be made for lack of quality.

But realistically, Punk could have dropped the strap to Bryan at Over The Limit. The two put on a clinic for the ages that was clouded in a wee bit of controversy when Punk tapped out to the Yes Lock as the referee made a 3 count in his favor. For a man who lost his World Heavyweight Title in 18 seconds at WrestleMania XXVIII and then narrowly lost a 2-Out-Of-3 Falls rematch to Sheamus, Bryan was definitely due. You could easily put the belt back on Punk at No Way Out or even later in the summer at SummerSlam. Or maybe even later into the fall. The point would be that Punk would have a new motivation that could branch into other storylines and Bryan would have a belt to go with his newfound fan adoration despite his heel status.

Bryan getting over at WrestleMania was an amazing thing, especially since I got to witness it firsthand. Giving the fans a legitimate heel champion again would switch things up and not make the scripting so predictable. And unlike his first title run before WrestleMania, I think Bryan would flourish with the main title on his waist.

Of course, I would want Punk to beat him soundly for it at some point. But I am biased.

The best scenario that didn't happen was the one where Punk dropped the strap at WrestleMania to Chris Jericho. After 2 straight PPV's of near misses, it would've made perfect sense for Y2J to reclaim the belt and the moniker of "Best In The World". Their match definitely would've stolen the show if not for the Triple H/Undertaker throwdown and I don't think the fans would've been any less satisfied if Punk had submitted to the final Walls Of Jericho hold. You could've still proceeded with the plan for Y2J to make their feud personal by insulting everything Punk stands for and Jericho could've still retained the belt at Extreme Rules. Down the line, have Punk finally triumph and win back his WWE Title. At least you know he can be beaten at a PPV.

I don't buy into the argument that long title reigns bring legitimacy to the championships. While I personally love the fact Punk has had the belt 200+ days, I can't help but feel that if he was chasing the belt again, it would make for better storylines. Better storylines guarantee that I won't get bored as I tend to do during the summer months. I wouldn't even be angry if John Cena was back in the title picture again. Yeah I said it.

I came into wrestling on WCW. My second birth if you will (my first was during Hulkamania but that's for another day). While I didn't get fully into it or WWF/E until 1998, I hated the initial run of the nWo. Mostly because Hollywood Hogan never came up off the belt! I understand it was a hostile takeover angle and Hogan was on his second best run of his career (and as a heel at that) but I wanted to see the belt change hands. That was exciting to me and I still get hyped up when a title change occurs (poor Daniel Bryan, but I loved it. And 75% of the crowd at Sun Life Stadium felt the same way). While I never want a WWE belt to change hands the way WCW belts did towards the end, a little variety wouldn't hurt at all.

At best, I feel a good face title run should be between 3 to 5 months and a heel title run should be either super short or anywhere between 6 to 10 months. You need an amazing heel to hold the title for more than that and you have to make his dethroning epic. Punk is in his 7th month of his reign with no signs of letting up. I've seen more than a few wrestling sites report that a title change was considered at several of the recent PPV's but in the end, they went with the Second City Saint. I shouldn't complain because Punk has put on amazing PPV matches since he's become champion again but the possibilities that aren't being used just bother me.

I'm not sure if this Punk/Bryan/Kane/AJ feud has run its course yet. With Money In the Bank looming, I expect some kind final showdown between those three and the crazy. AJ is really the most interesting part of this whole thing just to see who's bandwagon she'll jump on next. WWE really can't justify another Triple Threat match but I'm sure a cage or stipulation will be brought in so that they can finally settle things. With Brock Lesnar/Triple H looking to be the main event at SummerSlam, where do you go next with Punk if he still has the title? You surely can't have him wrestle Jericho a third time. Nor can you stick a returning Orton on him either (though I think that would be an awesome feud if Randy is allowed to be a heel again). The possibility of Cena reentering the title picture always hangs over the locker room but to do that would almost be like signing Punk's title death certificate. And predictable.

So, I'm not complaining about Punk this time. Not one bit. He's come along way since his pipebomb on June 27th last year. I just think we'd benefit from him losing the belt. Not to help the mid-carders and not to put someone else over. Just in the interest of telling the best stories possible.

Even the Best In The World can stumble every now and then.


15 June 2012

Thunderstorm Revisited

When I finally made the decision to record my final mixtape and first (and last) album, I thought it would be a good idea to go back and listen to my previous releases. Not only would it be good to hear songs I recorded as long as 8 years ago, I might learn something about myself along the way.

I listened to The Mind’s Mixtape volume 1 and volume II first and my reaction to them has pretty much remained the same. I was a kid who thought that just by recording a mixtape, I’d be the next rapper to blow. This was at a time where I knew little about song structure other than the fact that most rap songs had three verses and a hook. All of volume 1 was recorded without the knowledge that I wasn’t rapping on beat. I had already started writing songs for volume II when Da Ghostrida (Jeff Moore, a rapper I used to trade rhymes with back in my Abyss Battle Boardz days) told me I had no concept of a bar. After correcting this near-fatal error, the rest of volume II was recorded as properly as I could get it.

This was at a time when I thought I was one of the few people in West Virginia rapping, so I really thought I was the best rapper around. It wasn’t until halfway through recording that I discovered that WV had a diverse pool of rapping talent around the state. While this new information didn’t have a direct effect on volume II, it set the table for what Thunderstorm would be.

I released volume II on March 9, 2005. While my recollection is fuzzy now, I feel like the writing/recording process for both volume 1 and II was 5 months each. I had told myself I would take some time off (Which makes no sense when you’re an aspiring rapper. Don’t take time off. Write, record, release. Wash and repeat.) just to regroup and get the creative fires burning again. Lucky for me, I ended up getting inspired by Cam’ron’s “Get ‘Em Daddy” some time in April. I decided it was time to record again but instead of The Mind’s Mixtape volume Three, I would name this project: The Thunderstorm Mixtape.

The goal of The Thunderstorm Mixtape was for me to make a happier project. Volume 1 and II had come at a time where I still considered myself a conscious rapper. I felt like a lot of the content was preachy and serious. I wanted to make a mixtape you could bang in the summertime or anytime and just feel good. I spent the next 7 months crafting and finally released the mixtape on October 27, 2005, the same day as my first show in Morgantown.

I expected Thunderstorm would cement my place in the WV hip-hop scene as a new force to be reckoned with. Instead it was met with a lukewarm response, even with DJ Monstalung hosting. I became bitter and rejected and I viewed Thunderstorm as a failure, hence the reason I never got around to making Thunderstorm 2, even though it was on the table several times.

So when I loaded Thunderstorm onto my iPod last week, I didn’t have high expectations. But what I was met with was quite the opposite. Somehow, listening to my 7 year old audio document, I realized 2005 B Hyphen was a better rapper than 2012 Kelen “B Hyphen” Conley.

Let me explain. Technically, I’m a better rapper overall now. Cadence, lyrics, flow, subject matter, and style are all areas I’m much better at. But there’s something about hearing my younger self attack those beats. Maybe it was the hunger and passion I was laying into every syllable. Not to say I’ve lost that fire, but the intensity I had back then was unreal.

The rawness of everything also comes into it as this was the third and last mixtape I produced with a computer headset mic and Sonic Foundry Acid Pro 3.0. The quality was terrible but somehow Monstalung adjusted the bass and treble to make it sound as good as he could.

And speaking of Monstalung, he and I have been friends for as long as this mixtape has been around. He didn’t know me hardly at all when he agreed to host my mixtape for free. He had barely heard me rap. But somehow he took Thunderstorm to a whole new level. His energy throughout the whole tape is phenomenal and without it, Thunderstorm wouldn’t have the same effect it does.

As much as Thunderstorm is about me at one point in my life, it’s also the story of a cocksure motherfucker who truly believed he was the best rapper, period. I don’t think I could talk to my younger self and explain to him all the shit he would go through and that at 29, he still wouldn’t have a record deal. He wouldn’t believe me. I mean, this is the same guy who took Kanye’s “Diamonds” and turned it into a “I don’t give a fuck” anthem. And this is years before the kids started talking about how many fucks they don’t give.

I feel like a lot of my recent music has channeled 2005 B Hyphen, although until I re-listened, I had no idea I was even doing it. I’ve finally gotten back to that place where I feel like I’m the best rapper in the world and if you don’t agree, fuck it. My music’s not for you. But I’ll be damned if you tell me no.

From the time I released volume Three in 2007 to the inception of #28YearsLater in 2011, all I thought I was hearing was no. You can tell it in my music. Once I embraced what my music career had become, I regressed. Not into a bad place though. Just back to a younger version of myself. Thunderstorm helped me see that.

The Thunderstorm Mixtape was never a failure. It was ahead of its time in ways, yet it was very much of the era it was recorded in. Just because it didn’t make me the state darling I wanted to be doesn’t mean it was a waste. It was where I was in life at the time and still reflects where I should always try to be be musically: happy.

Cause if you’re not making music you love and are happy with, what’s the point?