WWE’s Payback promises to be CM Punk’s return to in ring action since Wrestlemania. The “Best in the World” is going up against Chris Jericho aka The “Best In The World At What I Do” in Punk’s hometown of Chicago. Jericho is no stranger to Chicago; he made his WWE debut there. Even still, Jericho is walking into this Pay Per View as something of an underdog. When CM Punk embraces the power of Chicago, it’s hard to challenge him. Case in point, Wrestlemania Weekend saw Punk in two battles: his Wrestlemania match against The Undertaker took center stage and was arguably the best match on the card, but he and John Cena challenged each other at the merchandise booths, debuting new T-Shirts.
CM Punk used one of his Chicagoan allies for his shirt: Jill Thompson, an exceptional artist and an incredible wrestling fan. Thompson illustrated Mick Foley’s Tales from Wrescal Lane, an imagined world in the style of A Pup Named Scooby Doo or Flintstone Kids, where the stars of the WWE grew up near each other as children.
|Image Courtesy of Amazon.com|
This was my introduction to Thompson. I received a Foley autographed copy of Tales from Wrescal Lane as a gift. I went to Jill at a New York Comic Con to get the other autograph. After showing her the book, we talk about everything in Wrestling. I was even privy to a sneak peak at Jill’s designs for Daniel Bryan ring gear (later revealed on Twitter):
|Images Courtesy of Jill Thompson|
Jill has immense pride in not only the wrestlers she knows but also in Chicago. Money in the Bank 2011 showcased Punk’s deafening hometown reception; it also reminded everyone just how much a wrestling town Chicago is, something that had been relegated to smaller, independent companies for quite some time. By the time the WWE returned to Chicago for Extreme Rules 2012, Thompson wanted to cement Chicago’s legacy. She designed two pieces of art – one for Daniel Bryan and on for CM Punk – for fans to download and print, so that the arena would be filled with images of our champions.
CM Punk asking Jill Thompson to design a t-shirt for him was a no brainer. And while John Cena’s “The Champ is Here” white t-shirt – brought to you by the font Arial – hung in every merchandise booth Wrestlemania weekend, it was CM Punk’s shirt that could not stay in stock. At least that was my first hand experience: CM Punk won. Punk was right.
The crazy thing is, this isn’t even the best thing Jill Thompson does. That would be comics. She and comic artist / fellow wrestling fan Evan Dorkin created Beasts of Burden, a comic saga about a team of pets responsible for protecting their neighborhood from the forces of dark magic. It’s a compelling series that is not only a favorite of mine but also of Daniel Bryan and it’s being turned into a movie!
So, the point is: don’t mess with Chicago and its Second City Saints. If CM Punk used Jill Thompson to beat John Cena, who knows who he will use to beat Chris Jericho? Will he play the Thompson card again, debuting a new shirt to counteract Y2J’s light-up jacket? It certainly worked last time. In the meantime, we can follow Jill on Twitter and Tumblr to hear her thoughts on Wrestling, comics, and everything else. Support her projects like Beasts of Burden and Scary Godmother. And be sure to grab the Thompson designed 2nd City Saint Gear at WWEShop.