Ever since CM Punk signed on the dotted line to become a member of WWE once more, fans have been eager to see one match above all others: “The Best in the World” versus the “Texas Rattlesnake,” “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

Long considered the “Second City Saint's” dream match, the prospects of Punk and Austin actually working a match together, even one on par with the latter's efforts against Kevin Owens at WrestleMania 38 in Dallas, felt feasible for the first time since 2013, which, considering the latter looked like he'd never wrestle again during the former's initial WWE run, is really saying something.

Sure, Punk's expected to miss the next six or so months due to a torn triceps and may not wrestle for the promotion again until Survivor Series but still, for as long as he and Austin are breathing, the match will forever go down as one of the greatest “what ifs” of WWE history; a “what if” that could actually happen unlike, say, Sting versus the Undertaker.

One person who hopes the match remains a “what if” is none other than WWE Hall of Famer Eric Bischoff, as he believes the prospect of Austin wrestling a match in his mid-50s is simply unrealistic, especially with his injury history.

“I will [be surprised if he wrestles again]. I’d be happy to see it. I’d be excited to see it. But I would definitely be surprised if next year’s WrestleMania is a long way off, and it’s hard to predict. But it all comes down to how Steve’s feeling,” Eric Bischoff explained on his 83 Weeks podcast via Wrestling Headlines. “I was probably in Steve’s last quote-unquote match, but it really wasn’t much of a match. But in terms of being promoted with a story behind it, an arc leading to a pay-per-view and all that, when I wrestled Steve and Montreal, I didn’t want to say wrestled when I was in the ring was Steve at Montreal. And at that point in time, when I don’t remember when that was, that was 2005, maybe, or almost 20 years ago, and there was no in a world I could have ever imagined at that point in time that Steve would ever step into the ring in an actual match with an actual opponent. Just physically, it wasn’t in the cards. Now, is Steve recovered? If he is in rehab, does he overcome the issues that you had? Whenever I worked with him, No Way Out. If he has that, I could see it because he looks like he’s in great shape. As far as how he knows his body. He knows what he can do and what he can’t do. I’d love to see it. But I would be surprised.”

So, if Austin were to work another match, would a pairing with Punk make sense from a wrestling perspective? Bischoff has a perspective on that too, and it's probably not what most fans of the “Second City Saint” would like to hear.

CM Punk and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin aren't an ideal pairing in 2024.

Discussing the prospects of an actual bell t0 bell match with CM Punk and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Eric Bischoff questioned just how effective such a match would be, as the former isn't exactly known for his in-ring resilience, and that makes it a whole lot harder to cover for the “Texas Raddlesnake's” diminished athleticism.

“And you know, we’re talking about Steve and his injuries. Let’s be honest. And talk about Punk. Yeah, Punk has been very susceptible to serious injuries over the last couple of outings. Yeah. So it’s not only Steve, that’s got to, you know, would have to work hard at being physically ready and enabled to bump around and do the things that Steve would want to do. I would imagine, you know, when you’re a guy like Steve Austin, you don’t want to come out there and be half of what the audience remembers, right? That’s, that’s always the danger, right? When guys who have been so successful for so long get out of the business and decide to make a comeback. And just less than what people remember; part of that is because people remember you, and their memory of you, and their memory of that time. It’s kind of hyper-inflated over time. Absolutely. You remember it much differently and more favorably in some respects than it really was at the time,” Eric Bischoff noted.

“And then on top of that, you’ve got time, and the fact that you know, in this case, that Austin hasn’t been in the ring for an actual match and wants to be yours. You know, it’s hard to go out there and meet the audience’s expectation when that expectation is kind of based on a memory that wasn’t actually true, at least to the magnitude that you recall it. So it’s hard to live up to the audience’s expectations for talent like that. And especially someone like Steve Austin, who’s very proud, but he’s got his head on straight and doesn’t have an overinflated view of himself or value. But at the same time, he won’t want to disappoint the audience. He won’t want to go out there knowing he’s not going to be able to live up to his expectations. So you’ve got that you’ve got the same situation with CM Punk is gotta be able to put together three or four or five, six-month runs, run without injuries, to really start feeling his momentum. It’s gonna hold it. Punk is like 44-45 somewhere in that area. He’s not going to heal up real fast. His rehab is going to be tough. And then you’ve got to get back in the ring and get in ring shape again; it’s gonna be interesting to see how Punk comes out of this with a series of injuries that he sustained over the last year.”

At WrestleMania 38, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin's match with Kevin Owens went over so well because KO sold the absolute heck out of the bout, taking shots all over the ringside era in a No Holds Barred outing while doing everything in his power to make his opponent look like the guy fans remembered from the 1990s. The tough part about CM Punk wrestling in 2024 and beyond is that his opponents sort of have to do the same thing for him, as he simply doesn't have the same stuff that made him the “Best in the World” a decade or two prior in Ring of Honor and WWE. If the duo could figure out a way to make it work, the match would likely go down in wrestling history forever, but it has a much greater chance of turning tragic, which may lead Austin to simply opt out of a proposed match instead of risking his legacy for someone else's dream.