As we’ve mentioned, this week marks the fifth anniversary of CM Punk‘s infamous, industry-altering “pipe bomb” promo. Punk certainly turned his career upside down when he took a seat in 2011 and unleashed his semi-uncensored thoughts on the WWE Universe, but his career didn’t start on that stage. Punk had already been wrestling a good dozen years by that point, seeing and doing far more than most wrestlers of his era.
So, rather than looking at the pipe bomb again, let’s go further back to Punk’s sometimes under-appreciated salad days. Here are a few things fans ought to know about the early life and career of CM Punk …
CM Punk’s television career began at the age of eight.
Phillip Jack Brooks was born in Chicago on October 26, 1978. As he’s alluded to numerous times over the years, young Phil had a tumultuous childhood. His dad was a barely-functional alcoholic, and his parents reserved most of their praise and attention for his four siblings. As a teenager, Phil moved out of his parents’ house and was essentially adopted by his best friend Chez’s family. He’s had little to do with his biological family since.
But hey, CM Punk’s childhood wasn’t all doom and gloom! There were also scary clowns involved! Punk is always reticent about his upbringing, but in 2010 a random aunt decided to bust that wide open, sending video of an 8-year-old Phil Brooks on The Bozo Show to a local Chicago news station. Thanks Aunt Christine! In the video, we see lil’ Punk play musical hats (during which he annoys the adults with an impromptu snappy remark, naturally) and grab a copy of Don’t Wake the Dragon from the terrifying Bozo himself. It’s an appropriate introduction to show business, given where Punk ended up working.
The “CM” originally stood for “Chick Magnet,” regardless of what Punk will tell you now.
The “Chick Magnet” thing was mostly aspirational at this stage.
So, what’s the “CM” in CM Punk stand for? Over the years Punk has claimed it meant everything from Chicago Made to Cookie Monster. All the red herrings are partly just Punk being clever, but they may also be designed to throw fans off the slightly embarrassing reality. Namely, that “CM” probably stands for Chick Magnet. Kinda douchey, but true.
Punk started his career running and wrestling for a surprisingly successful backyard promotion called the Lunatic Wrestling Federation, where he was part of a tag team called The Chick Magnets. The dynamic duo consisted of Chick Magnet Punk and his partner Chick Magnet Venom, but they quickly shortened the first part of their names to CM, because hey, you don’t have to call yourself a chick magnet to be one. CM Punk would certainly know. By the way, the Lunatic Wrestling Federation still exists, and CM Venom is a real dude, so this origin story checks out on multiple levels.
Punk’s career (and life) nearly ended early due to a fractured skull.
All wrestlers deal with injuries, but CM Punk’s career, and possibly life, was almost derailed before it had barely begun. In 2002, Punk was wrestling indie staple Reckless Youth, and the two bonked heads on a neckbreaker. Usually that wouldn’t be a huge deal, but Punk ended up with a fractured skull, swollen brain and spinal hemorrhaging. The doctors told him they’d seen people die from lesser fractures, but Punk, being the stubborn bastard he is, turned down any painkillers, and instead just went home, laid in a dark room, and healed himself. He was told he shouldn’t do anything physical for 14 months – he was back in the ring within six weeks.