CM Punk's reign as WWE Champion has reached 371 days today, tying Punk for the seventh-longest reign in WWE history. Tomorrow night on RAW, Punk will stand all alone with the sixth-longest reign with the WWE title.
The man he is tied with today is someone who Punk has been aligned with historically: Randy "Macho Man" Savage.
When CM Punk paid tribute to Randy Savage by wearing attire much like what Savage wore in his classic WrestleMania III match against Ricky Steamboat, it was pretty evident that Punk respects the history of the business. Punk has been one to definitely understand how the wrestling industry works and would love to see pro wrestling become as big of a deal as it was when he was a kid.
Sporting pink tights and yellow knee pads, Punk was paying tribute to the past while still staying in the present with his Nexus t-shirt on as well. Punk was doing a classy gesture while still trying to be a top heel in WWE, teaming with R-Truth in a tag team match against John Cena and Rey Mysterio. Bret Hart was the special guest referee that night and would end up locking in the Sharpshooter on Punk before the night was over.
It still has linked Punk and Savage together, something that has not been lost upon WWE, who has marketed the two together with merchandise.
The link goes much further than that. Punk's attitude has always been realistic and his clothing rather tame, unlike Savage's larger-than-life persona and flashy attire. While they may not always seem equally charismatic, Savage knew how to take that stereotypical speaking voice by old-school wrestlers and make it all his own.
Aside from Hulk Hogan, Savage's voice is among the most imitated in wrestling history.
Punk has never yelled a promo or even made it seem like anything more than him telling everyone, including his opponent, how he is just flat-out better. Savage still knew how to stay in character and say something from the heart, especially when he did interviews for other media outlets. It's almost incredible at how Savage was able to speak so down to earth and be someone to relate to, even if he was so flashy.
Savage was a big name in the late 1980s in WWE, but he could never seem to break through past Hulk Hogan, who embodied his era back then. Savage would probably be considered one of the greatest superstars of all time despite not being considered the greatest during his time.
Punk will likely go down as one of those forgotten greats after his time is done. Savage had to compete at the same time as Hogan, but Punk is currently on top while such future Hall of Famers like John Cena and Randy Orton are still around.
Punk has been very vocal about his respect for Savage since Macho Man passed away in 2011. Punk admired Savage as a kid and took it upon himself to make that tribute with his gear, as well as adopting the patented elbow drop Savage did for his entire career. Even as a bad guy now, Punk still gets a reaction when he tries the elbow drop, pointing to the skies like Savage always did.
It's so appropriate that Punk was able to match Randy Savage's mark from when Savage won a vacant title at WrestleMania IV, holding the title until one year later at WrestleMania V, losing the belt to Hulk Hogan. Both events took place in Atlantic City, just a few hours of driving away from Madison Square Garden, where Punk's WWE Championship reign began at last year's Survivor Series.
If you want to get an idea of the amount of respect WWE has for Madison Square Garden, when Punk earns the sixth-longest reign of all time, all six of those reigns will have begun inside Madison Square Garden. That will happen in just a few days.
At 371 days, Punk ties one more great champion one week from this upcoming Tuesday. On that day, Punk's reign will reach 380 days, tying the longest reign John Cena has ever had. That means that in eight days, Punk will stand alone as the closest man to breaking into the top five-longest reigns since Cena was injured in 2007, ending his reign abruptly.
It's a lot like how the screwjob on Hulk Hogan abruptly ended his title reign and forced WrestleMania IV to have a tournament to crown a new champion. Savage defeated Ted DiBiase in the finals to win the title.
Both the tournament final at WrestleMania IV and the end of the reign at WrestleMania were both the main-event matches of their respective events. Punk, on the other hand, is yet to main event a WrestleMania in his career, but this historical reign could ultimately help Punk accomplish that next April at WrestleMania 29, a quarter of a century after Savage began his historic reign.
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