September 14, 2012
Respect is a fickle, funny thing. Some say it must be earned, not given, while others claim it should be given automatically as a result of accolades, acumen or political/physical stature. Currently, WWE Champion CM Punk rests squarely in the latter camp, pontificating that as the face of WWE, he is owed the unconditional respect of the entire WWE roster and Universe. Something, by the way, he feels very, very strongly that he’s been denied.
That, we suppose, is a whole separate story unto itself, but it did get us thinking here at WWE.com: If not Punk, who does the current crop of WWE Superstars hold in highest regard? We did a little digging and what we found was interesting, to say the least. And we’re guessing Punk, for one, might appreciate Michael McGillicutty’s response to the question.
“On the current roster I respect CM Punk the most,” the former WWE Tag Team Champion said before referencing The Second City Saint’s recent crusade for due props. “You have to show respect for the WWE Champion. For the guy to have to come out there and try to earn respect from the people and all the other people in the locker room, that’s ridiculous. Everybody out there should show respect to CM Punk.”
For his all-time favorite, though, McGillicutty proved that, as always, blood is thicker than water: He chose his father, WWE Hall of Famer Mr. Perfect. McGillicutty extolled his old man’s virtues with no small amount of emotion, calling him “the most gifted all-around athlete this company has ever seen in its existence … [he] was a man who should have but never did hold the WWE Championship.”
Another young hot-shot on the tag team scene, Titus O’Neil of The Prime Time Players, similarly sang the praises of WWE Legends both current and classic. “[I respect] John Cena … he’s called to do so many things for our company and be the face of our company,” O’Neil told WWE.com of the Cenation leader’s laundry list of duties under the WWE banner. The Superstar who has “The Big Deal’s” all-time respect, however, will surprise no one: The Undertaker. “It’s more than just The Streak to me,” O’Neil said. “Just his physicality and his ability to be the complete, all-around entertainer and competitor in the ring.”
R-Truth sang Cena’s praises as well. “From day one, he’s always been a good resource to go through as far as learning this business or learning in general,” Truth said. “He treats everyone here with equal opportunity and respect, and thirdly, he’s a hell of a guy.”
A popular cornerstone of respect among the Superstars was good old-fashioned hard work. One such Superstar who extolled the virtues of elbow grease was none other than the elusive Ryback, who agreed to speak to WWE.com about the Superstars he holds in highest esteem.
“Right now on the current roster I respect guys like John Cena, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, guys like that who work hard to get where they are and have never stopped,” Ryback told us. “They’ve done it their way. I believe hard work always works. It’s something that I live my life by.”
Meanwhile, Hart Dungeon graduate Tyson Kidd risked the wrath of the Great White North with his most surprising all-time pick: Shawn Michaels. “The fact when he came back in 2002, when you weren’t sure how long it was after that back surgery, and here he is after eight years,” Kidd told WWE.com. “I think his matches in those last eight years were even better than the matches before, which is pretty remarkable.”
It was William Regal, though, who gave what we felt to be the most complicated answer. “This may sound strange but I don’t respect anybody,” Regal said. “I admire traits in people. I respect certain things about them but I think that word gets thrown around too much. I admire plenty of people, I admire Daniel Bryan, I admire CM Punk, I admire Antonio Cesaro, Wade Barrett, Sheamus; all the fellows that have been out and earned their spot on this roster. The ones who really go out of the way to work hard and try and learn everything they can about this.”
Regal’s choice for who he admired the most was similarly intriguing: He picked Superstars who he warred with over the years. “Apart from the fact that he hit me in the head with a sledgehammer once, I’d have to say Triple H because we have a very long history together … the other person would be Fit Finlay because I’ve known him since I was 17 and we’ve beaten each other senseless and unmercifully for most of that time in some form or another, so I do have a great admiration for people like that.”
Holding your greatest opponents in highest regard? Judging by their history, maybe Cena and Punk should have a bit more respect for each other, all things considered. Maybe after Night of Champions, when the fate of the WWE Title is decided, they will.