Daniel Bryan's feud with the McMahons may look like the same beast as "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's famous rivalry, but up close, it's clearly a different species.
Austin and Vince McMahon had one of the greatest rivalries in pro wrestling history. Bryan's feud, playing out over a decade later, isn't the same and nor should it be.
It's great to pay homage to past masterpieces, but recreating them frame by frame is an uninspired route.
There's a buzz around Bryan right now that is comparable to Austin's popularity. Both men had to fight authority figures along with their in-ring opponents. So it's only natural that everyone from Matt Hardy to Arda Ocal has compared the two feuds.
Now the 5 star match having, ROH original, workhorse known as Daniel Bryan gets the chance to take on the Stone Cold role. GO GET EM BRYAN!— Matt Hardy (@MATTHARDYBRAND) August 20, 2013
The similarities are plenty, but in the end, one is a story of man versus man and the other is the story of man versus a company.
There was no question who Austin's most hated enemy was, but for Bryan, he's just as irate with Triple H, Randy Orton, Stephanie and Vince McMahon.
Bryan is attempting to defy the odds and break stereotypes by making it to the top of the company despite not looking the part. He shares that aspect with Mick Foley more than Austin.
Why then do fans immediately think of Austin when Bryan is surrounded by McMahons, gunning for a fight? It's the mountain Bryan has to climb that is comparable to Austin's trek to the top.
Just like with Bryan, McMahon didn't want Austin to be WWE champion. To get that title back, he's going to have to battle corruption and cheating a la Austin.
The difference was that McMahon despised Austin before he was even in position for that title. It wasn't until Bryan was in arm's reach of the title that he truly caught McMahon's attention.
In both feuds, holding the WWE Championship was symbolic for being the face of the company.
McMahon didn't want a beer-drinking, crude rebel in that position, just like he and his family don't want a bearded, diminutive indie star in that role today. McMahon was willing to hire Mike Tyson as an enforcer to prevent Austin from winning, and with Bryan, he didn't hesitate in bringing in Wade Barrett to stop him.
Austin won the audience over by refusing to back down.
Bryan shares a lot with Austin even if he doesn't spout phrases like "Jesus Christ, son" or have Austin's love for knocking back beers in the ring. Both men have relentlessness and in-ring aggression in common.
Where things begin to diverge is when one looks at how much that aggression spills out of the ring.
Bryan has plenty of Austin's anger but is more out to prove that he belongs among the elite more than he is to raise hell. That may change as his rivalry with the McMahons progresses, but for now he's tamer than Austin.
Take his recent reaction to being escorted out of Raw for example.
Stephanie McMahon explained why her husband cheated Bryan out of his WWE title and Bryan understandably lashed out at her. He called her "trash" and mocked her in front of the Raw audience. She quickly tried to squash the escalating situation by getting security to escort him out of the building.
That moment was eerily similar to Austin getting arrested after stunning McMahon.
A big difference however was that Austin had to be handcuffed and Bryan didn't. Bryan went without incident, slumping away from the ring before shouting "No!" a few times. Austin was far more threatening.
He looked ready to clock any of the cops within punching range and being handcuffed evoked an enraged animal, barking incessantly. He pushed through the cops to bend over in front of McMahon.
Besides the difference in aggression, there was a lot more personal animosity between Austin and McMahon than Bryan and his corporate tormentors.
That could certainly change as things escalate, but Bryan's anger has to be spread out to so many people, it would be hard to make it as focused and intense as Austin's was for Mr. McMahon.
There isn't true hatred yet between Bryan and the McMahons. Animosity and tension exists, but the McMahons have said they respect him. In that aforementioned segment with Stephanie, she says that he thinks he's a valuable part of the roster.
The McMahons are just looking out for business. It isn't yet a personal blood feud.
The war between McMahon and Austin wasn't about business—it was about two stubborn men unwilling to let their vendettas go.
Austin went after McMahon by destroying his car and spraying him with beer. Bryan, as short-tempered as he is, doesn't seem like the kind of guy to follow in those footsteps. Chances are he'll prove himself through his wrestling instead.
The Bryan and McMahon narrative is still young—it can veer off in countless directions.
WWE's goal with that rivalry should not be to attempt to match what Austin and McMahon had, but to make a new tale of frustration, injustice and a hero resisting tyranny. You can't duplicate the past.
There's a new song to be sung here, a symphony of kicks to the chest and knees to the head with an underlining drumbeat of fans chanting "Yes! Yes! Yes!"