When CM Punk delivered his game-changing promo at the end of a June 2011 episode of Raw, he made a point of wearing a Stone Cold Steve Austin T-shirt. In interviews, the real-life Phil Brooks has expressed admiration for the Texas Rattlesnake, going so far as to cite him as one of his favourite all-time professional wrestlers.
Earlier this year, when Brooks tweeted a half-joking remark about wanting to face Chris Brown at WrestleMania 28, the R&B singer went nuts and falsely accused the Straight Edge Superstar of being a steroid abuser. The current WWE Champion calmly responded with a brief online video denouncing Brown’s abusive nature and openly challenged the embattled singer to a real fight in the name of charity. Brown, in a rare moment of wisdom, didn’t accept (Brooks never expected him to) and this silly Twitter war ended just as abruptly as it began.
This is specifically what Brooks said about Brown with regards to his vicious assault on Rihanna:
“…I don’t hit women…Period. You [meaning men in general] don’t hit women. In my world, women are to be revered and respected. And I firmly believe that in this life there are consequences and repercussions for people’s actions. And I don’t think Chris has paid for what he’s done…picking up trash on the side of a highway does not make amends for repeatedly striking a woman to her face and sending her to a hospital…Chris Brown isn’t a man.”
And this is what he promised he’d do to the singer if Brown was foolish enough to fight him:
“I will choke you out and I will make you feel as weak and as powerless and scared and alone as any woman who has had the misfortune of knowing the sad, cowardly little boy such as yourself.”
In 2007, shortly after the Chris Benoit murder-suicide tragedy, former WWF Womens Champion and beauty queen valet Debra Marshall appeared on Hannity & Colmes. During the interview, she talked about her troubled two-year marriage to Stone Cold Steve Austin (they dated for two years prior to the ceremony). Unlike CM Punk, Austin was a serious steroid abuser. As Marshall put it, “…I have seen the steroid rages. I have seen him being paranoid. I have seen his panic attacks. I mean, for three times, I’d seen him attack me — I mean, and at work people would know it, and they would cover the bruises on my face.”
When asked if anyone within the WWE said anything about her abuse at the time, she responded: “No, they’re not going to rat on the top money-maker in wrestling. And everyone else knew this was going on, but no one’s going to stop it, because Steve would make millions of dollars for Vince…And then like for me to have Stone Cold Steve Austin arrested? Oh my gosh, they so hush-hushed that — put it under the table. They put a gag on me for a year that I couldn’t talk about this, because they knew that I could totally bring down their top star.”
Marshall was speaking out many years later hoping her story would prevent another Benoit tragedy from happening. Here’s how she described the 2002 assault that led to the end of her marriage:
“When Steve Austin was pounding on me that last time with his steroid rage, pounding on me, his eyes were bugging out of his head, and it was a rage like the most horrifying thing you’ve ever seen.
And when I called the cops, he ran out the door, yanked the phone lines out, unplugged the garage door openers, yanked the wires out so I couldn’t leave.”
Sadly, Marshall wasn’t Austin’s only victim. Two years later, there was another incident involving another ex, Tess Broussard. Austin has since quietly remarried another woman.
As admirable as it was to publicly condemn Chris Brown’s deplorable actions against Rihanna, where is CM Punk’s outrage for Stone Cold Steve Austin’s equally offensive conduct? I’ll tell you where it is. It doesn’t exist.
Punk and Austin actually sat down for an extended interview over the summer with longtime announcer Jim Ross. (You can see it here. It’s the second video.). Did Austin’s abusive actions come up even once during the conversation?
What was the point of the interview? To promote the new WWE ’13 video game (which features both men as playable characters) but also to rile up wrestling fans for a dream program: Punk vs. Austin potentially for the WWE Championship, maybe even for the next WrestleMania. Both men have taken shots at each other in the media (most likely for kayfabe purposes) and on each other’s official Twitter accounts to keep stirring the pot.
But the elephant in the room cannot be ignored. If CM Punk does indeed work with Stone Cold Steve Austin in any capacity and never addresses the Hall of Famer’s appalling abuse of women, he’s an enormous hypocrite. I mean why go to all that trouble singling out Chris Brown while giving Austin a complete pass for similiar transgressions? (Like Brown, Austin never served a day in prison for beating a woman.) How can you be taken seriously as a defender of women if you only criticize certain abusers while protecting the ones you want to work with?
All this being said, the idea of Austin having an in-ring comeback, even a brief one, has always been questionable, thanks to his recurring neck and knee injuries. In fact, he had knee surgery not that long ago which prevented him from appearing on the 1000th episode of Raw back in July. So, maybe this dream match will stay that way: a dream.
Regardless, if you’re going to make it a point to speak out against those who needlessly abuse women, no perpetrator, not even a fellow professional wrestler you greatly admire should be exempt from your contempt.
The result of such selective outrage? Eroded credibility.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, October 21, 2012