SOUND AND FURY, 11:40 a.m.
A treadmill hum and generic lobby music is infiltrated by muffled yet audible riffs of metal punk music. These sounds reverberate louder as WWE Champion CM Punk steps further into the hotel gym for a workout.
Hoodie and all, he gets rolling immediately on the elliptical while the sounds of This is Hell pound through his Beats headphones. It’s the morning before his match against Chris Jericho and Punk’s focus will not sway. The zipped up Straight Edge Superstar warms up and gets his heart rate moving for a more intensive training to follow.
TIME TO BOUNCE, 12:12 p.m.
The gym starts to crowd up with some of CM Punk’s fellow Superstars by the time The Second City Savior has already worked up a sweat. The sweatshirt’s come off and the music has cycled into some Metallica – specifically, “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” shades of The Game’s WrestleMania entrance in Atlanta a year before.
Punk’s diet has varied over the past several months, including a three-month stint as a vegetarian, and his workout is equal in variety this morning. He moves quickly between chest presses and planks, incorporating a medicine ball workout in the set rotation. The WWE Champion takes the ball, holds it overhead and slam-bounces it to the floor with all his strength from a dozen to 16 times each. While serving as core training, Punk’s smile suggests he may also find a youth-like satisfaction at the ruckus of the 12-pound ball springing up to the ceiling to rattle the tiles. (WATCH)
ENTER THE DRAGON, 3:22 p.m.
Awaiting his VIP signing on the WrestleMania Axxess floor, Chris Jericho strolls the waiting area at the Miami Beach Convention Center and is approached by WWE Hall of Famer Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat.
Just yesterday, Jericho expressed his admiration of Steamboat’s accomplishments as a technically gifted torchbearer for competitors of a non-hulking stature. Today, Chris emits respect to the venerable WWE Legend. For his part, The Dragon compliments Y2J and reveals his anticipation of the “Best in the World” showdown the next day at WrestleMania. They step aside and privately speak of parallels between Steamboat-Savage and Jericho-Punk in just 24 hours. Though Jericho may not express it, Steamboat’s acknowledgement is certainly a humbling honor for the first-ever Undisputed Champion in WWE history.
LIGHTENING THE MOOD, 3:43 p.m.
A snaked line of WWE fans is incredibly anxious for the arrival of Chris Jericho at the signing booth at Axxess. The Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rollah marches forth with a swaggered strut and takes his position at the booth for individual encounters with the WWE Universe, estranged or not. One Jerichoholic hoists up a sign made in homage to Y2J’s illuminated jacket, which leads the WWE Title No. 1 contender to descend from his perch. He waves his wrist and leaves a signature on the wide poster board featuring his silhouette and the words, “Best in the World.”
In roughly 24 hours, he’ll have the opportunity to prove this sign true.
HAPPY WHEN IT RAINS, 5:04 p.m.
It’s hours prior to the WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and back at the hotel, WWE’s Superstars, Divas, Legends, family and friends are slipping into suits and cocktail dresses for one of the most important nights of the year. About one mile from that same hotel, CM Punk and his friend Lita are sloshing through a Floridian downpour in sopping wet sneakers and clinging cotton tops. They couldn’t be happier.
Crossing over the Miami River Walk, the two unhurriedly pass through puddles toting veggie and fruit smoothies to be sucked down after this evening’s event. Their conversation thrives while people under umbrellas hustle past to find drier ground.
His Thor tee thoroughly drenched, Punk is probably more comfortable now than he will be in a snug necktie later tonight. In fact, The Voice of the Voiceless makes Gene Kelly look like a grump as he and the former Women’s Champion parade through the streets of Miami, enjoying the crash of the heavy raindrops on their skin.
GRUB HUB, 7:09 p.m.
The Straight Edge Superstar and Lita are all wrung out from their stroll through the rain and have dried in time for the prestigious WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony at the American Airlines Arena. Even though it’s not his ideal attire, CM Punk looks James Bond sharp in a suit. Still, he doesn’t quite top the former Women’s Champion, who turns heads in just about every room she enters.
Punk puts down some light fare to supplement the smoothie that made it from one side of Miami to the other in a rainstorm two hours earlier. On the flip side of the curtain behind them, a who’s who of sports-entertainment converges; Ric Flair talks “good olds” with Dusty Rhodes, while Rhyno, Tommy Dreamer and Lance Storm enjoy their reunion.