As cliché as “If ______s Were ______s” and comparison articles have become, sometimes you see enough similarities between two worlds that you can’t help but fire up the word processing machine and start clanking some keys. This installment of “If Wrestlers Were…” is particularly close to my soul as I compare personalities and careers from one childhood obsession with another.
On a road trip from South Florida to Baltimore when I was five years old, my dad bought a couple of cassette tapes from a gas station. The one that stood out was “The Best of Bill Cosby” and, from that moment on, I was fascinated with the art of stand-up comedy. I sought out any sets I could get my hands on. Once Napster was a thing, I became the “Comedy Mix CD Guy” amongst my friends.
Since college, I have not consumed as many specials and Comedy Central Presents as I once had, but still tried to keep up with who was doing what and who to look out for. The dawn of the podcast has been a godsend for that.
DISCLAIMER: The below comps are of stand-up comedians (or performers with stand-up roots) only. If someone’s background is mainly in improv or sketch comedy, they won’t be found below (though, likely in another article for another day).
Daniel Bryan is… Mike Birbiglia
Both have the ability, work ethic and drive to get over in any situation/medium.
Daniel Bryan: Verbally abusive boyfriend? Over! Odd Couple Tag Team? Over! Harrowing underdog? Over! Reality television character? Over!
Mike Birbiglia: Stand up Comedian? Over! Best Selling Author? Over! Critically acclaimed director? Over!
It’s also hard to come out of watching or listening to either in an interview or performance and,at the very least, like the guy. In two industries that both reward self-aggrandizing, Bryan and Birbiglia both carry themselves in a generally understated demeanor and let their work speak for itself.
Colt Cabana is… Marc Maron
While Colt and Marc have chemically lived two very different lives, they have both made a similar impact on their respective industry through podcasting. It’s well documented that (friend of Podswoggle) Colt Cabana’s inspiration came directly from Maron, but the situation in which they came out of was very similar as well. Both men decided to blaze a new trail AKA throw shit up against the wall and did something that hadn’t been done in their industry in that particular way. Now, each of their endeavors have been heavily imitated by their peers. However, none of those stand out from the originals in part to the strong personalities (be they angry and flustered or happy and hopeful). Cabana and Maron have proved that it’s possible to find success without The Machine and forge a new road for others while doing it.
Samoa Joe is… Aziz Ansari
You didn’t misread the above as “Samoa Joe could eat Aziz Ansari.” Throughout this anthology, I’m trying to avoid any comparisons that rely strictly on physical appearance and aim to cut right to the spirit and soul of the subjects.
From the first time you probably took notice of Samoa Joe and Aziz Ansari, they have both played against what would easily be their stereotypes. It’s been long rumored that Joe once turned down a WWE contract for not wanting to play the Samoan Savage that became Umaga. Characters Aziz has played have been named Tom, Chet, Matty, Eugene, Jay, Marcus, and Raaaaaaaandy.
Come to think of it, even the shows Joe and Aziz are currently on have things in common. Both Impact Wrestling and Parks and Rec are shows that underperform in the ratings while industry experts wonder how both shows stay on the air. That’s where I would say the similarities end since Parks and Rec is one of the smartest and most heartfelt sitcoms on the air today and Impact makes me writhe on my couch as I DVR through it out of some sense of wrestling fan duty. Both Joe and Aziz gained notoriety for their previous gigs before landing the shows they’re featured on today. Samoa Joe spent his earlier days tooling around in ROH with the likes of his buddies CM Punk and Christopher Daniels before making the jump up to national TV in TNA. Aziz Ansari spent his earlier days tooling around on Human Giant with Paul Scheer and Rob Huebel on cable before making the jump up to network TV on Parks and Recreation.
CM Punk is… Eddie Murphy
Some of these aren’t going to be perfect. This one would be much easier if CM Punk randomly wore an all leather suit (still a funny visual to think about… go ahead and think about it… aaaaand we’re back). Though, going back early enough, we can maybe dig out some similarities.
Phase 1: Beginnings - If you consider their start, they both began their careers by creating their own opportunities. Eddie Murphy began crafting his act around the age of 15 and CM Punk began as a backyard wrestler, spinning it into his own company that he shared before he was ever even trained. At a certain point, they both worked their way up the ladder in these particular fields to move on to the next phase.
Phase 2: Part of a Cast – In 1980, Murphy joined the cast of Saturday Night Live. In 2002, CM Punk joined roster of ROH. While CM Punk had a much stronger supporting cast than Murphy was working with, they both used this platform as a stepping stone to get themselves to the next phase of their career while creating iconic, and grainy, moments along the way.
Phase 3: A Shot at the Big Time – Eddie Murphy had done a few successful films while a part of the SNL cast (call this Punk’s time in OVW). However, it wasn’t until he left the show in 1984 that Beverly Hills Cop made over $230 million and placed him on the main roster of Hollywood’s box office stars. Punk may not have had quite the showy entrance onto the scene, but his subsequent start and stop pushes would be similar to Murphy’s track record post Beverly Hills Cop.
- BHC = Winning Money in the Bank at WrestleMania XXIV + Successful Cash-In.
- The Golden Child = Forfeiting his title before a Championship Scramble match.
- Coming to America = Winning Money in the Bank at WrestleMania XXV + Successful Cash-In.
- (Choose from the following) Harlem Nights, Another 48 HRS., Boomerang, The Distinguished Gentleman, or Beverly Hills Cop III = Losing his title in an opening match in 10 minutes.
Phase 4: Rock Bottom – Vampire in Brooklyn = New Nexus.
Phase 5: Redemption – The Nutty Professor = Pipe Bomb.
Phase 6: Superstardom – At this point, both men’s careers are on fire and Murphy and Punk are arguably on top of their respective industries. Eddie Murphy is the anchor of two of the biggest reboot franchises at the time (Nutty Professor and Doctor Dolittle, not to mention Shrek) and CM Punk notches a five-star Match with John Cena, a 434 day WWE Title reign and a WrestleMania Undertaker match onto his belt.
Phase 7: The Fade – Excluding the Shrek movies, which aren’t his vehicle, Eddie Murphy might as well have stopped making movies and quit show business after 2006. Dreamgirls was the last glint of the talented and magnanimous side Murphy chose to show. The Royal Rumble 2014 was the last glimpse of CM Punk in a wrestling ring he chose to show. The last eight years of Eddie Murphy’s career is only equivalent to CM Punk’s since he left if Tower Heist = Punk losing a bet to the LA Kings’ Mascot.
Phase 8: The Return (to Form) – As of today, Beverly Hills Cop 4 is scheduled for release on March 25th, 2016. My sources tell me (there are no sources) that WrestleMania XXXII is scheduled to take place on March 27th, 2016 from historic Wrigley Field in Chicago, IL.