If there is one thing that any wrestling fan learns, it is to “never say never” when it comes to the wrestling business. Matches fans thought they would never see, like Rock vs. Hogan or even Rock vs. Cena, not only occurred but headlined WrestleMania. These matches made history because they combined two wrestlers who were stars in their respective eras, coming together for one dynamic showdown that fans were going to remember and discuss for years afterward. With WrestleMania a mere six months away, all signs are pointing to yet another one of these star-studded main event matches, this one, arguably, more compelling than any of the previous ones. What a treat would it be, and how many fans would tune in, to watch the incomparable CM Punk take on the darling of the Attitude Era himself, Stone Cold Steve Austin?
The speculation has been going on for over a year, even before Punk gave his now-infamous address sitting cross-legged at the top of the stage in a Stone Cold t-shirt. Punk has stated in multiple interviews that he grew up idolizing Austin, “sitting on [his] couch, drinking a case of Pepsi,” and watching Stone Cold rock the wrestling world. In an interview with news channel Fox5, Punk said that if he had to choose his dream match, it would be against Austin. Punk has even told the story of the time he extended his hand to Hulk Hogan backstage, only for Hogan to brush him off and pretend Punk was not even there. He compared this response to the one Austin gave him a little bit later, calling him a “rascal” and giving him a hug. Conversely, Stone Cold himself has stated that if he were to have one final match, he would want Punk as his opponent. Austin has said that he respects Punk’s ring work, which is a huge compliment for the current WWE champion, considering that Austin is widely regarded as the most popular wrestler of all time. “I like that kid, I like what he does in the ring, I like his gimmick,” Austin has said in interviews. The mutual respect and admiration that these two hold for each other would make for a compelling rivalry and riveting segments. Naturally, a match of this caliber with two of the most outspoken Superstars of all time would belong on a stage like WrestleMania. Though their backgrounds and lifestyles could not be more different, both Punk and Stone Cold are anti-authority and have strong, no-nonsense personalities. Many fans even consider Punk as the Austin of the PG era. One can only imagine the verbal battles and drag-out brawls these two would have had when Austin was in his prime.
All signs are pointing to a spectacular faceoff at Wrestlemania XXIX. For some time, it seemed as though this match was just a pipe dream. Punk was occupied with title contenders like John Cena; Austin had surgery and ended up missing Raw 1000 because he didn’t want to appear at such an extravaganza “limping down the ramp.” The past couple of weeks on Raw, however, Punk has mentioned Stone Cold during his in-ring segments. Last week, he mocked Jim Ross and declared that JR’s good friend would not be there to save him. He even went as far as to claim that Austin’s famed 3:16 now stood for the number of days the Second City Savior has held the title. Just last night, Punk mentioned Austin again. He mocked Stone Cold’s rise to success and accused him of taking shortcuts. He stated that Austin made his name by feuding with Mr. McMahon, who he referred to as a “clueless, inept millionaire.” This blatant criticism is probably in reaction to Stone Cold posting a hilarious, profanity-laced video on his website accusing Punk of having body odor and bad breath, and wondering aloud why Punk has a shower on his tourbus, since according to Austin, he doesn't appear to use it. Since Austin's rant was anything but PG, it makes sense that it wasn't televised, but by letting Punk drag Stone Cold’s name into his arguments, the WWE is still teasing the matchup the fans are begging for. The timing is perfect, with six months until WrestleMania for Austin to heal and train.
It’s interesting to note that even though The Rock has been advertised for the Royal Rumble, that Punk is no longer focusing on the People’s Champ, and is saving his mockery and barbs for Stone Cold. This could be because Punk will not be the champion going into the Rumble. Sometime between now and January, perhaps Cena will regain the title, setting up Rock vs. Cena II. This will free up the Rumble to further develop the Punk/Austin storyline; imagine the glass shattering during the rumble match and the entire arena coming unglued as Austin participates in his first Royal Rumble in over ten years. Perhaps his path would cross with Punk backstage, perhaps they’d have words. The gauntlet would be thrown, possibly by Austin, who would have taken offense after months of disrespect. And so it would begin.
The Punk vs. Austin dream match WILL take place. The doubt that had been circling the past few months, mainly due to Stone Cold’s surgery, has been dissipated by Punk bringing up his name during altercations with one of Austin’s greatest friends and one of his greatest foes. Both men have stated repeatedly that they want the match to take place, and fans have been salivating over the thought of these two going toe-to-toe for over a year. The build-up will be highly entertaining and the promos promise to be mind-blowing. This is a match that, listed on the card, speaks for itself. It may even end up drawing more attention than Undertaker's match, or whoever Brock Lesnar faces. For the past few months of his championship reign, we have seen Punk demand respect, and be told time and again that if he wins this or that match, he will finally be respected. Even staunch critics will admit that the man is a star. But when he faces Stone Cold at The Grandest Stage, he will have a WrestleMania moment that will dim any other. The Voice of the Voiceless will lock eyes with the Rattlesnake, and the entire WWE Universe will light up with the electricity generated by a once in a lifetime match.