“Sometimes the wrong choices bring us to the right places”Unknown
Last Saturday at NJPW’s Battle in the Valley, the wrestling world saw the shocking return of Jack Perry. As we all know, the last time we saw Jack Perry was at AEW’s All In London, which should have been the biggest achievement in the company’s history was once again marred in backstage drama and controversy.
The Incident That Changed Everything:
Live on PPV during Jack’s match with Hook, Jack went up to the car at the entrance way and knocked on the glass and turned to the camera and yelled “real glass”. To the audience at home that follow all the dirt sheet rumors know that it was directed at CM Punk. Allegedly a few weeks prior CM Punk as a veteran in this business told the young Jack Perry, that using real glass in a match was not a smart or safe idea. It is very clear Jack didn’t agree with the advice and then when he put Hook through the windshield, he once again looked at the camera and yelled “cry me a river”.
Jack wasn’t talking about the Jusin Timberlake hit song here, he was clearly further twisting the knife at CM Punk. Then what actually happened backstage after Jack Perry’s match is really just rumor as none of the actual parties involved have talked about it, likely because of NDAs. Allegedly CM Punk confronted Jack Perry and may have either punched and/or choked Jack Perry out according to some rumors.
What we do know for certain CM Punk was terminated from AEW and has since returned home to WWE and thriving there. We also know that whatever happened backstage resulted in Tony Khan saying he feared for his life. Jack Perry has been believed to be suspended, but considering how tightlipped and NDA happy AEW seems to be no one really knew for certain if Jack Perry was still suspended or what was going on.
Jack Perry’s Return:
This return by Jack at a NJPW show and not AEW was an absolutely brilliant move because absolutely NO ONE saw it coming. Him coming through the crowd adds another layer to this as well because it gives the appearance that he really is not supposed to be there. The security wasn’t even sure what was going on when he jumped the rail. The announcers appeared just as shocked as everyone else. Jack jumped a NJPW talent, Shota Umino, then ripped up his AEW contract on TV and put on an armband that said “Scapegoat”.
Perfect blurring of the lines. I’ve said this before in previous pieces and on the WR Daily Broadcast, when you are able to blur the lines, it creates compelling TV and most importantly generates interest and money to your product. When you are able to make even the smartest of marks wonder wait what is going on? That is the sweet spot.
One of the complaints I saw online even in a WR chat amongst my colleagues that Jack Perry coming into NJPW ripping up his AEW contract and wearing an armband clearly referencing his punishment in the whole CM Punk incident, was a mistake because AEW is trying to move on from that whole thing and the audience shouldn’t be reminded of it.
Well hate to burst people’s bubbles, but that is AEW’s biggest weakness instead of capitalizing on the biggest story in the business they just drop the ball with it. When “Brawl Out” happened, it was without a doubt the biggest embarrassment in the company’s short history and exposed Tony Khan’s inability to handle CM Punk during a press conference. Every negative criticism of Tony Khan just being a rich kid playing promotor was voiced even louder after all of this.
The answer was not to sign NDAs, the answer was to turn a bad situation into an angle and make money with it. It was literally the hottest story in the wrestling world and instead of capitalizing on it, AEW just wanted to move on which is without a doubt the dumbest thing to do in my opinion. CM Punk has always been a lightning rod of controversy and has been very successful using that to make money with it and in my opinion would have been willing to put his issues with the Elite aside to make money with this, but it seems to me that the Elite were either not willing to do that and/or Tony Khan was afraid to do it. That is obviously just speculation on my part, but if I was putting money on it, I would bet that CM Punk was not the reason that this didn’t turn into an angle.
This sums up the difference between AEW and WWE, AEW either can’t or won’t do what they should by embracing controversy and blur those lines by taking real life heat and making money with it and WWE fully embraces it. WWE has always turned real life situations like Bret Hart & Shawn Michaels and the Edge/Hardy/Lita situation and made money from it.
AEW incredibly dropped the ball with CM Punk and their loss is WWE’s massive gain at the moment as WWE and Punk are fully embracing the whole hell froze over return and playing up the “Punk is a locker room cancer”. They are making a lot of money and like CM Punk said in his return promo, “I’m here to make money not friends”.
Jack Perry Taking from Line Blurring Legends:
So back to Jack Perry, his return very much reminded me of Scott Hall’s WCW Nitro debut, coming through the crowd. No one knew what was going on when Scott interrupted a match and implied that he was invading on behalf of the WWF. That blurring the line is a huge reason that WCW ended up taking the lead in the ratings war for a while because they blurred those lines and embraced realism when WWF wasn’t at the time.
Jack Perry was finding his footing as a heel before his suspension but if he embraces the scapegoat and they keep up this “Loose Cannon” type character like the late great Brian Pillman, they could have something truly special on their hands. Whether he is still under AEW contract, and they sent him to NJPW to let him develop his new character or if he was quietly released this is such an opportunity for Jack Perry to turn something that was truly negative for him into something that is even better than it could have been before.
Jack Perry should fully embrace the scapegoat and being angry, bitter and brooding like the legendary, Raven. Jack needs to take his real-life feelings like he did when he vented his frustration on his years of booking in the buildup to last year’s four pillars match and his frustration on being suspended and use it. What about me? What about Raven? Is the perfect blueprint for Jack Perry to find a truly compelling character.
You need to be able to connect with an audience to truly be successful in this business and there is no better way than relatability. Whether it is drawing on the emotion of a spoiled immature brat, which a portion of the audience already perceives him as to keep up the heel work or making the audience relate to him in a sympathetic way.
For example, he could make the audience sympathize in a by them relating to his predicament. Whether you have experience in a workplace and there is favoritism towards your peers, and you connect with that because you can relate to it. He could of course keep the heel work going with the woe is me type character which can anger the audience as they don’t sympathize with him.
Personally, I think he should fully embrace a Raven type character and lean into the heel run and use the real-life frustration to create a must-see version of Jack Perry. Continue to blur those lines leaving the audience guessing what exactly is going on. Jack Perry should continue to appear in NJPW and other promotions such as AAA and TNA, playing this character everywhere before he returns to AEW looking for his revenge.
Jack Perry has the ability to do what Brian Pillman was starting to do by blurring the lines and playing the character in the Big 3 in the 90s. There are more promotions with airtime, and he can appear almost anywhere outside of WWE to continue to play up this character and I truly believe that is what he should be doing.
Turning a bad situation into a positive should be Jack Perry’s number one focus right now and what he did at Battle in the Valley is certainly the right direction. Keep blurring those lines Jack and keep us guessing on what is next.