The Problem with CM Punk: To Be Like Austin, He'll Need Change

Evan FeinCorrespondent IIDecember 25, 2011

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 15:  CM Punk wrestles Shelton Benjamin during WWE Smackdown at Acer Arena on June 15, 2008 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Gaye Gerard/Getty Images)
Gaye Gerard/Getty Images

Let me say right off the bat that I like CM Punk. He's not my absolute favorite wrestler, but I am happy that the WWE is pushing him. But there has just been something about his character that seemed wrong. It is hard to put my finger on it, but his character sometimes comes off as a whiner.

Fans love rebels.

Stone Cold Steve Austin grew in popularity because he did what every adult deep down wants to do: drink beer and flip off their boss. The Rattlesnake didn't care if he was loved or hated, he just did whatever he wanted and WWE fans couldn't get enough of it. During his famous 3:16 speech at King of the Ring, he casually ran down Jake "The Snake" Roberts and put the world on notice: Stone Cold had arrived.

Everybody knows about Punk's worked shoot last summer. He said what many fans, commentators and even wrestlers were thinking about the current state of the product. He also complained that he was not in the main event of WrestleMania and that he did not get the recognition he felt he deserved. Many people have likened Punk's promo to the one Austin did 15 years ago.

When he came back after Money In The Bank, he declared himself the voice of the voiceless and decided that he would give the people what they want. Punk's ongoing feud with John Laurinitis is a throwback to the famous Austin-McMahon feud.

Obviously, there are going to be differences between Punk and Austin, but I can't help but think that Punk's attitude will be a problem going forward. He has succeeded in shaking things up and leading the Daniel Bryans and Zack Ryders of the world to glory. But then what happens? Once he succeeds in beating authority, what is left for him? He has the WWE title. He can't keep complaining forever.

Once Stone Cold Steve Austin vanquished the Corporation, he continued having a successful run. Why? Because even though his character enjoyed fighting authority, his real goal was to kick ass and win titles. He didn't care really care about giving people what they wanted and taking new guys under his wing. It was the force of his personality that kept him going, not the fact that he was a rebel. Austin continued acting like a heel, even when he was a top face. Fans loved that.

Over the course of just five months, CM Punk's heel characteristics have almost entirely disappeared. With the way he's been sucking up to fans, I can't see his character lasting more than a year before people start to get tired of it. Punk is very entertaining, but he's not exactly a guy that people can relate to the way Austin was. Punk's focus should be on maintaining the smart ass part of his persona, not being the new People's Champion.

The same thing happened with Randy Orton a year and a half ago. He dropped too many of his heel characteristics too quickly, and now people see him as stale and boring. Punk is a much better wrestler and much more charismatic than Orton, but he should beware. Complaining about authority and management on behalf of the fans is not as effective as whipping ass. Stone Cold never complained about not liking the current champion or not being in the main event of WrestleMania. He forcibly got what he wanted and then celebrated with a beer bash.

CM Punk's feud with management cannot go on forever. He will ultimately win against whoever the conspirators are. But once he vanquishes Laurinitis, gets his ice cream bar and becomes "The Man," he'll be unable to be the rebel anymore.

There are going to be some people who think I am against Punk or that I am being too impatient with him. This is not the case at all. I want to see Punk as the face of the company for a while. He could be the only guy formidable enough to take on a heel Cena a couple years down the road. But he has to keep his character fresh and remember what brought him to to the dance. I think a brief feud with The Rock after WrestleMania 28 would help him out tremendously.

[ Edit: I didn't expect this article to get such a huge response. I am not literally saying Punk should be like Austin. I'm comparing their two situations as faces of the company and pointing out a potential problem for Punk down the road. ]