Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Best Character Ever 20: The Straight Edge Society

I have talked about favorite heroes a lot in previous installments of this column. Now it’s time to talk about villains. And not just any villains, one of the greatest groups of villains ever in the history of professional wrestling.

They may not have been around for long, but the Straight Edge Society was evil like no one else in wrestling. The brainchild of CM Punk, the Straight Edge Society’s origins lie in the fact that Punk was simply removed from the main event for no good reason whatsoever. His answer was to build an organization around himself that could cement his story position for months to come. And he set out to do it in an amazing way.

Up until this point in his WWE career, Punk was a hero, a man proud of his straight edge lifestyle, of remaining drug and alcohol free. His big catch phrase was “I’m addicted to wrestling.” He used that to become a two time World champion, but during his second run he also used that to draw boos, declaring himself better than everyone else as all the fans were just drug-addled addicts.

But it wasn’t until he lost that title until the true calling card of the new status as a bad guy began. He recruited Festus, a seemingly brain dead redneck that turned in to a monster in the ring. He revealed that Festus was really an addict and after cleaning up the big man, made him Luke Gallows the first member of his Straight Edge Society.

Gallows’ loyalty quickly proved to be much more than just friendship or gratefulness. He seemed to worship CM Punk and soon he wouldn’t be alone. He started to preach on every episode of WWE Smackdown and more and more he sounded like some dark parody of a television minister. He pulled in fans from the crowd and shaved their heads in the ring.

He would soon recruit a woman from the audience named Serena and a third figure, a hooded man that would interfere in their matches. He entered a long running feud with Rey Mysterio and it was here the Antichrist imagery really came to light.

CM Punk was the devil and the Straight Edge Society were his dark disciples.

They perfectly brought the religious imagery to life in photoshoots like this
one for
The former Joey Mercury, now under the more biblical name Joseph Mercury became his final protégé. They would battle Mysterio for several months. Mysterio was known for the Christian imagery on his gear and his Catholic upbringing, and because of this the Straight Edge Society seemed bent on making his life a living hell.

Ultimately he would lose both his feud and his hair to Rey Mysterio, but the SES would remain loyal to their new dark master.

Punk had become the biggest villain of 2010 by leaps and bounds, but in wrestling event he greatest stories are destined to fail. A feud with Big Show started out well. The group took credit for breaking Big Show’s hand.

At least Punk got the t-shirt. Image credit:
But the feud would ultimately lead to the giant dismantling each member of the team. Mercury would go out hurt, Serena was excommunicated and legitimately fired from the company. Weeks later, Punk would lay out Gallows and end the Society once and for all. Gallows would soon be released from the company as well.

Ultimately, the Straight Edge Society fizzled far too fast, but as a group, they showed what subtle imagery could do to quickly turn a seemingly good natured concept in to a very dark evil thing. It would mark the high point of Punk as a villain and mark him as one of the most hated figures in modern day pro wrestling. It was the height of his career.

At least, until he dropped a pipe bomb a year later.

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