On June 27, 2011, in Las Vegas, Nev., CM Punk cut a promo that may very well have changed the landscape of the WWE entirely.
Flash forward over a month later, and Punk has continued to put fans in the palm of his hand while doing wonders on what he likes to call his own "Pipebomb."
Some are calling this a new era in the WWE, even Punk himself said he thought it was the dawning of a new era, an era he would call the "Reality Era."
Punk also said that he wants to make wrestling cool again. That statement is a bit sad (even though it's true), considering in order to make it cool again you have to admit that it was bad in the first place.
Regardless, CM Punk's point is taken and we all can sincerely hope that wrestling does indeed become cool again and as awesome as it was in the late 90s. With that, we'll take a look at the top 10 guys who can make wrestling cool again.
What? Sheamus starts off the list? Yes. Sheamus starts off the list. A lot will depend on how valuable Sheamus can be as a face, but he can make the WWE cool again. Why? Because he's different. The Attitude Era was all about diversity in character.
Sheamus is certainly a different character. We've become accustomed to tan, oily Americans hogging the main event spotlight and now you've got this pasty Irishman destroying anything that comes in his path.
Sheamus is also an incredible asset because of his work ethic. Early reports were that Sheamus received the quick push he got because even on nights where he didn't need to show up for work, Sheamus would still come to shows so he could learn more about the business. That shows dedication and somebody you can depend on.
The only thing that can separate Sheamus from helping make the WWE cool is the WWE's inability to properly book characters such as himself.
LITTLE JIMMY PUT HIM THIS LOW. Fact is, R-Truth is one of the most entertaining characters in the WWE today. The more unfortunate fact is that the WWE failed to realize this until Ron Killings was age 39.
But who says he can't make an impact? Dave Batista wasn't young when he got started in the WWE and he was arguably one of the biggest stars of the last 10 years, despite not even being that talented on the microphone and certainly in the ring, so why can't Truth still be a star?
Killings is a great mic worker and a good wrestler, and his recent promos have been some of the funniest stuff the WWE has broadcast in years, while still portraying him as a legitimate threat to other members of the WWE roster.
Ron Killings may be old, but he still has enough time and enough talent to help make the WWE cool again, and that's the truth.
Yep. WWE's resident Rip Hamilton is No. 8 on the list of 10 guys who can make the WWE cool again. Rhodes has a lot of assets that the WWE can use.
Sure he's not nearly as good on the mic as his father was, but then again who is? Rhodes' gimmick started off as a car wreck and evolved into something that legitimately works as a heel.
Not sure where they could go forward with this as a face, but it's currently working for him, so there's no need to make a change right now.
I've gotta say, I wouldn't mind seeing a WWE audience where a good portion of the fans were wearing paper bags over their heads to humor Rhodes' gimmick.
Rhodes could easily become a top star in the WWE one day, it's just in the WWE's hands to utilize him in such a way that he can do so.
I was seriously considering leaving the Miz off this list. Then I remember when there was a time that I claimed that after Miz and Morrison split up, the Miz was gonna be the new Marty Jannetty of the WWE. Boy, was I wrong.
Frankly the Miz would be making the WWE cool on the media side of things. He's good for catch phrases and mic work, and he's always looking to improve his game, which makes him a huge locker-room asset.
He's also hard working, and as I said, much like John Cena, the Miz is a go-to guy for media appearances and interviews which makes him an incredible star to have on your roster.
The biggest thing the Miz has to overcome is some fan's doubt that he can make it as a babyface in the company.
Miz has already accomplished much success as a heel in the WWE, but with a face turn reportedly in the works, Miz will have to prove he can also make it as a good guy in the WWE.
Nick Nemeth really cant seem to catch a break when it comes to bad gimmicks. Before he was Dolph Ziggler, he was a minor member of a group of male cheerleaders called the Spirit Squad.
OK, maybe Dolph Ziggler isn't half as bad of a gig as being Kenny Dykstra's spandex sidekick, but it's still not that great of a gimmick nonetheless.
Nemeth has a load of talent on the mic and in the ring, and I just don't see his gimmick as Dolph Ziggler being one that will get him over as a solidified main-event player.
Of course, your guess is a good as mine when it comes to what he could be made into, but something needs to be done, and they could likely start by having Ziggler lose Vickie Guerrero as his manager.
I like Vickie's character, but it's been played out with Ziggler.
Who? Santino Marella. Not a bad gimmick for a guy who's not that talented, but for somebody as talented as the man who plays Santino, it's a complete waste.
I said this a long time ago, for a guy with the wrestling skills of Bret Hart and the mic skills of the Rock (all right, I exaggerated on both ends a little bit) Santino sure is wasted on a non-money making gimmick.
Anthony Carelli could be so much more. He's legitimately a good wrestler, he can work a mic well, and he's very good at communicating with the crowd, whether it's the live audience or the people watching on television at home.
If you ask me, Carelli could be a top draw in the new era of the WWE, so long as the WWE stops wasting his talents and actually changes a character who has been relatively the same for the last four years or so.
Yep. Randy Orton is No. 4. As much as some people may not like how he destroyed some talents on the WWE roster like Ken Kennedy and Kofi Kingston (Maybe he just doesn't like individuals with the initials "KK") there's no doubting Orton's talent.
The WWE really began pushing Orton's "Viper" gimmick when he turned face. I'm half surprised he didn't start slithering out on to the stage and out to the ring whenever he would come to a match. It couldn't be any more obvious that they were trying to make him the new "Rattlesnake."
Nonetheless, Randy Orton has to be Randy Orton just like John Cena has to be John Cena and CM Punk has to be CM Punk. Orton isn't too great on the microphone, so he has to return to his gimmick where his actions spoke for him.
Orton has slowly edged away from that gimmick and as he has done so, he has become much more boring as a character and much more like another face in the WWE.
Before Orton focuses on making the WWE cool again, he has to focus first on making himself cool again.
Woo woo woo, you know it! Zack Ryder is No. 3 on the list of guys that can make the WWE cool again. Whether Ryder is the goofy character or a top star, this guy has the potential make the WWE cool once again.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that I don't think Ryder's current gimmick can work as a top star in wrestling, but I see something in Ryder that I don't recall seeing in a long time. That is creativity.
Ryder was literally on the verge of being released after months of playing video games backstage. What does he do? He uses wrestling's biggest enemy, the Internet, and turns it into his greatest ally.
Ryder reportedly sold more merchandise than The Rock at a recent episode of Monday Night Raw, if that is any indicator of how popular he has become.
Now, as I stated earlier, I don't think his gimmick currently will work as a top star, but I think Ryder has the creativity and the flexibility to morph his character and come up with something that will captivate WWE fans even more than the "Long Island Iced Z" character.
Yes, I said John Cena. Before you tar and feather me you'll take notice of the picture for this slide, because I'm not talking about the current, boring, bland John Cena. Not by a long shot.
John Cena has been in need of a character change, and more importantly a heel turn, for a long time. For the love of God, his merchandise hasn't even changed other than the color for nearly three years now. Talk about boring and predictable.
But John Cena can undoubtedly make wrestling cool again. People forget that there was actually a time when grown men cheered for John Cena. Yes, there was that time when Cena was actually entertaining, and there's absolutely no reason Cena can't be that guy again.
That said, it's going to take a lot to get the men to open back up to Cena, and to revamp his character overall, so I'd suggest the WWE make haste of getting started.
Even if CM Punk's position on top isn't permanent, the WWE has a brilliant opportunity right now to turn Cena heel and have Punk cover the losses as the top face. My advice? Do it.
Did this really surprise you? Punk is the one who spearheaded this apparent new era, so why wouldn't he be the most likely candidate to make wrestling cool again and lead this new era?
Punk is easily the best talent the WWE currently has to offer when considering wrestling quality, pipe-bomb quality, and character. The only guy who can challenge that is Chris Jericho and even though Vince McMahon reportedly has a contract on his desk, Jericho isn't currently employed by the WWE.
So that leaves us with Punk, the mastermind behind everything. Punk reportedly has Vince McMahon's ear now when it comes to decisions within the company, and that isn't a bad thing at all.
Punk has a great knowledge of what fans want to see, and it's been a long time since Vince has allowed wrestlers to give input on the direction of their character.
Without a doubt, Punk is the No. 1 candidate to make wrestling cool again.
Jordan Matthews is an avid wrestling and hockey fan. To continue following his coverage on the WWE and the NHL, you can become a fan of his on Bleacher Report, or you can follow him on Twitter by clicking the follow button below.