How many times have you read or heard someone say that we live in troubling times? It gets a bit ridiculous. They talk about the state of humanity and how things aren’t how they used to be. If we follow that line of thought, it would seem that humanity is bound to a hopeless regression. The fact is we are not living in awful times. There are just awful things that happen. They are always bad things happening in some part of the world. This week I have not been able to turn on the news without being bombarded with Casey Anthony updates. The state I live in is currently over a week into a government shutdown. We have had thousands of state employees laid off, wondering how they will feed their families, while the politicians who caused this mess continue to collect their salaries. I get that it’s nothing compared to war, starvation, and so many other issues others face. However, all these things can really get to you after a while.
In one of the first columns I wrote, I talked about the escape that wrestling provides for people. Every now and then it just feels good to forget all the junk and watch a good wrestling match. It feels good to just put it out of your mind. There are also those who turn to books, movies, and even wrestling to find some sort of hope. A great example was the Steve Austin character at the end of the 1990s. He was the guy who had the guts to stand alone against the establishment and he succeeded. It didn’t matter how many things were thrown in his way, he always found a way to overcome. He was our hope.
Over the last week I have heard and read different opinions about CM Punk sort of stepping in and being the next Steve Austin. Some have dared to say that Punk could be as big as Austin. I doubt that would happen, but there are those who see the parallel between their characters and how the promo Punk gave on Raw recently harkened back to the days of the legendary Austin 3:16 promo at the 1996 King of the Ring pay per view. It would be unfair of me to say people drawing those parallels are wrong or misguided. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but they are onto something.
I was quite taken aback by the comparisons when I first heard them. The feeling seems to be that Austin was a guy who fought the establishment and Punk is doing the same thing. They both are starting their campaign in the heel ranks and both gave promos that dropped the jaws of many wrestling fans. Is Punk the next Steve Austin? Looking at who Austin was and what he meant to the industry, Punk is probably never going to be that guy. I could be wrong, but it seems pretty unlikely. However, given the recent tribute exchange between Punk and John Cena at recent house shows, combined with Punk now seeming to take on Vince McMahon, many feel WWE is pushing Punk as a baby face. That claim is a bit out there. Will Punk be cheered against Cena at Money in the Bank? I fully expect that. Is this going to be a baby face match? Absolutely not. At the heart of the Punk-Austin comparison seems to be not what Punk could or will be, but what these people want him to be. They want him to be the edgier alternative to John Cena. With the return of The Rock and foul language making the occasional sound wave, there is a hope in many to see a return to an edgier product and Punk is an ideal candidate for these hopefuls to rally behind. It all depends on where this whole storyline is going.
After the speculating I did last week, I hate to speculate too much this week. The fact is we really do not know where this is going. The best part about this program is there are so many different directions this can go. It really speaks to the credibility of the WWE creative team that they are able to get this really strange, yet exciting aura around this match to sell the MITB pay per view.
For all the great things about the Cena-Punk angle, there have been very few criticisms. The really only bit criticism I have seen is the negativity around Cena possibly being fired so soon after the Nexus angle where Cena was fired after costing Wade Barrett the WWE Championship. People were so upset that even though Cena was fired he appeared on television anyway and will likely do the same thing here if he loses to Punk. I go back to Steve Austin in this case. How many times was he fired? He still always came back. Remember when he was fired in 1998? He was on Raw the next night with the show focused around him as always. There are plenty of crime dramas where a cop is suspended but continues to remain an active character on the show as they pursue the villain. You don’t hear people complaining about that because they understand it is part of the show.
On top of all the build and all the hype the Punk-Cena match is getting, we can really look forward to this because it is probably going to be a really good match. These two do pretty well together in the ring as evidenced by their series earlier this year. Cena has yet to have a really great pay per view match this year as his series with Miz was met with mixed reviews and his match with R-Truth didn’t impress too many wither. Punk is a different story. We know he and Cena can put on a good show together. It will be pretty hard for these two to have a bad match at MITB. It’s one of those programs you can escape in, perhaps even pull out some hope from you hero, whoever that may be in this case.