During a recent discussion promoting THQ's upcoming "WWE '13" video game, CM Punk stated he would have been a champion during the Attitude Era. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was also part of the discussion and laughed at the idea. The only championships CM Punk could have held during the famed era would have been secondary belts, such as the Hardcore Championship or the Tag Team Championship.
Mentality of the Attitude Era
The WWE Attitude Era ran from September 1995 to March 2001 when the surviving company of the Monday Night Wars acquired WCW. The reigning ideal of the time was Vince McMahon's love of larger-than-life wrestlers who were doing things to each other people only dreamed of doing to people they had issues with. The era was dominated by performers such as Austin, The Rock, Triple H and other DX members, Mick Foley, and the Undertaker. Note how all of these performers dwarf the size of the current champion and have become legends over the years for their mic skills.
CM Punk's Size
CM Punk is a great talker, but his size would have held him back from being a major star during the Attitude Era. He would have looked tiny against stars who were still actively taking steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. The smaller performers of the day were relegated to the tag team division or the hardcore division. Punk would have had to be pared with a large performer to ensure a tag team title run. Since he does not have a highflyer wrestling style, he would not be able to carry a match in McMahon's eyes since the boss believed big men meant ratings and mat wrestlers were there to legitimize the big boys.
The hardcore division took the pressure off of a wrestler who did not have the skills or the size of the top performers. Instead of placing a reliance on power (which would be perceived due to size), sports entertainers could simply slam each other with trash can lids, chairs, and shovels. CM Punk would have had the opportunity to excel in the division if he was willing to take the bumps and come up with creative moves with weapons which could separate him from the pack.
The main focus of the WWE Attitude Era was to pull viewership away from WCW. CM Punk is the current WWE Champion, but is the champ during the worst rating period in years. The most recent episode of "Raw" had the worst non-holiday ratings in 15 years, and is likely to have left Ol' Vinnie Mac sweating in his suit. If the champ is unable to hold ratings during this time period, how can anyone believe he could have held them during the Monday Night Wars?
L. Vincent Poupard has been following the wrestling industry, as well as the characters and storylines, for almost 30 years.