I’m none too surprised at the latest stop on the “CM Punk Is A Jerk Tour.” Punk, real name Phil Brooks, did an interview with Kevin Wong of Complex, and to say that things got awkward would be an understatement. Wong asked if Brooks was intimidated or anxious about making the transition to MMA (his debut for UFC is scheduled for sometime this year), and Phil got a bit upset. Here’s an excerpt:
“I get this question a lot, and it’s like you guys think I’m an idiot. Like I didn’t know MMA wasn’t pre-determined or something like that,” says Punk. After a pause, he gives me side-eye. “Have you ever tweeted at me, ‘Hey, do you know what you’re getting into?’”
“I never have.”
“Okay. It sounds like you might have.”
“I don’t mean to put you on the defensive…”
“I’m not on the defensive. Your question is insulting. You’re asking me if I know the difference between the WWE and the UFC?”
“That’s not what I’m asking.”
After the interview, Wong was told that Brooks would like to never speak with him again.
CM Punk isn’t the nicest guy — I know from first-hand experience. It was 2002, years before he would become a star in WWE, that we met in the parking lot of the old ECW Arena in South Philadelphia. I was a wrestling student at the time, and I was there to help set up the ring, work the lights and fog machine, stuff of that nature. Punk was there to wrestle, and also to be an ass. When the owner of the company’s son introduced us, I said, “Oh, from IWA Mid-South. (That was the promotion he became known in.) I’ve seen your work. Nice to meet you.”
“No,” he said as he shook my hand, “I’m from Chicago.”
On paper, it seems like the mildest of statements; he is of course from Chicago. But, he understood my connotation and responded with the chilliest of answers, even furrowing his eyebrows and allowing his words to hiss through clenched teeth. If passive-aggressive was an Olympic sport, that guy would have gotten the gold medal that night. I’ve met a lot of wrestlers in my lifetime, and I’m friends with many, but none have ever come across as arrogant and condescending as CM Punk. Ask around if you can — my disappointing interaction with Brooks is nothing you’ll find inherent solely to me.
For those who are fans of CM Punk, I won’t deride you — I’m a fan of CM Punk, as well. But Phil Brooks?