One WWE Superstar came up the hard way. He started in modest venues, wrestling in front of small crowds and honing his craft against other talents who had the same dream of one day succeeding in the business. He had a passion for what he was doing, and he knew that despite what anyone told him, he had what it took to rise to the top. He knew what he wanted and was convinced that through hard work he would get there. And he did not need to play a character; all he needed was to be himself.
And the other guy is CM Punk.
Seems these two have more in common than it appears.
The truth is that Stone Cold Steve Austin and the current WWE Champion, CM Punk, have been compared quite often since last year. After all, 2011 was when Punk dropped his first infamous pipe bomb on Monday Night Raw, setting off a chain reaction that would ultimately culminate in his nearly one-year title reign.
Punk was viewed as the maverick who defied the establishment and rebelled against authority. He got over by speaking the truth and by being as relatable to fans as possible. Simply put, when fans looked at Punk, they saw just a normal, everyday kind of guy who was ticked off at the way things were and would no longer be denied the place he felt he deserved.
Not since the Attitude Era of Stone Cold had a baby face so openly defied upper management to the degree that CM Punk was. Every time Triple H, John Laurinaitis or Vince McMahon himself attempted to deliver the typical corporate mantra, Punk was always there. Smiling, waving, mocking every word that was being spoken.
“Wow, what a load of crap.”
Granted, Steve Austin may have been, shall we say a bit more colorful in his language, but the sentiment was the same.
Basically, it all came down to one guy standing up and saying no more.
No more will I stand here and be disrespected. No more will I do what you want me to do. I am my own man, and no one here is better or tougher than I am. Throw whatever obstacle in my way that you want, but this is my time and I will overcome it.
But, the biggest difference between the two is the fact that while both men ran a similar gimmick, each one came about in a different way.
For Steve Austin, the guy just struck gold. He was sitting in WWE, going nowhere fast, until he decided to take his character into his own hands. He became more intense, more focused, and thanks to the Austin 3:16 catchphrase, he became very hot very fast.
Fans could not get enough of Stone Cold, and his constant raging against the WWE corporate machine was all done to perpetuate the unpredictable nature of his character. Austin was not content with being told what to do and how to do it. He wanted to do things his way and he did.
The fact is that Austin could not get over until he became Stone Cold. Austin’s career was made; he was bigger than he ever had been before. And the entire run centered around the opportunity Austin received from WWE to just be himself.
CM Punk, on the other hand, had been successful in WWE for several years before the 2011 promo took place. He was a two-time World Champion, Tag Team Champion and Intercontinental Champion. He had worked WrestleMania, been featured against some of the company’s top Superstars and had become well respected not only for his ring work but his ability on the mic.
But by the time last year had come around, Punk’s frustration level was at an all time high. Sick of being pushed and then being dropped back down again, Punk watched one worker after another take main event spot after main event spot while he sat on the sideline.
So when WWE put a microphone in his hand and told him to take the gloves off, Punk was able to cut loose and just be himself. And he is still enjoying the end result of that promo to this day.
While each man may have come from a different place, it was the inner talent each had that propelled them to the top. Their similarities begin at that point and their character types run along the same path in many ways.
CM Punk has been referred to by some as this generation’s Stone Cold Steve Austin. But for the man who entered the business, found success, then became a breakout star, all under the same name and same gimmick, Punk is an anomaly. This kind of worker just does not come along all that often and no matter where he goes from here, his future will likely depend on the talent he possesses and the opportunities he is given to shine. And he will do it based upon who he is, not what someone else wants him to be.
The similarities just keep piling up.