Time to knee some fool in the face.
I turn on “WWE 13” and pick to fight as CM Punk, but before I select his opponent, I figure, who better to ask than the man himself?
So I get Punk on the phone and ask him the dream-match question. If he could wrestle anybody from WWE past or present, who would it be?
“Go ahead and beat up ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin,” the master of the pipe bomb says. “The first time I ever played, I played as myself and my opponent played as Steve Austin, and I found that I could beat him pretty easily, but it’s still fun doing it.”
And with rumors swirling at the possibilities of the man in the black Austin 3:16 shirts coming out of retirement for one last match, I ask Punk if that’s his ultimate dream encounter, if it even one-ups the possibility of an upcoming bout against The Rock at the 2013 Royal Rumble.
“It’s more than one-upping The Rock,” Punk said. “This is something I’ve been talking about for a while. It’s the perfect matchup because of our personalities.”
A beer-chugging, middle-finger-flipping Hall of Famer versus the straight-edge superstar who already gets booed for telling people not to poison their bodies with alcohol? For WWE, that has to be the closest thing it has to printing money.
But until “Stone Cold” signs on the dotted line, the only way you’ll be able to see the two in the same ring is THQ’s “WWE 13,” a game that kicks off with storylines involving Austin and the entire cast of the Attitude Era, right down to Bret Hart spitting in the virtual face of Vince McMahon and writing the letters WCW in the air during a heated cut scene.
“They have a lot of cool moments in the game that are taken directly from the Attitude Era,” says Punk, who not only stars in the game but also appears on the cover. “Everyone fondly remembers the Attitude Era because it gave us ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, it gave us The Rock, it gave us those unforgettable moments from Hell in a Cell ... There are all of these characters and moments that people want to re-live, and you can do it in the video game.
“And to be on the cover, it means everything to me. It’s beyond cool. THQ gets to pick who they want on there, so they obviously thought that I would help sell video games. They made the right choice to put my face everywhere.”
As far as being a spokesman for the game and WWE itself, Punk says he relishes the opportunity to take on the added responsibilities of the titleholder.
“When you’re the champ, there’s no such thing as a day off,” he says. “There’s behind-the-scenes stuff, more work promotional-wise, Make-A-Wish-wise, and everything is just compounded. But it’s fun. To me, I need to lead by example and show everybody what it takes to be the champion. Everyone in that locker room should want to be in my spot, and I’ll gladly show them how much hard work goes into being the champion, that way they’re prepared in case it ever happens to them.”
One of those added responsibilities is helping make new stars in the ring, and he hopes to blow the roof off of the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view Sunday against the jacked brawler known as Ryback, a beast of a man WWE has built to appear unstoppable.
“I think that’s my job, helping to make new stars,” Punk said. “It’s definitely something I want to do. You always want to leave the company a better place than when you found it.”
As for the match this Sunday, Punk says fans are in for a surprise.
“I don’t want to say anything corny, I don’t want to say anything cheesy, but expect the unexpected,” he said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen, and that’s a great thing when it comes to the outcome of any match. A lot of people think Ryback is taking this one. A lot of people think I’m going to retain. Anytime people are getting this worked up about it and are talking about it, that’s a good thing.”
Post-Ryback, Punk could see a series of challengers that reads like the who’s who of WWE legends.
They’ve already hinted at a match against The Rock, but could a showdown against The Undertaker and a shot at his undefeated Wrestlemania streak also be in the works?
“To end the streak would be a dream,” Punk said. “But I’m focused on defending my title. If The Undertaker comes back and wins the Royal Rumble and wants a shot at my belt, that’s definitely something I’m interested in.”
Looks like I can add the “dead man” to my list of people to knee in the face, thanks to “WWE 13.”
It’s going to be a busy week.