CM Punk recently sat down with Sports Illustrated, and surprisingly, the interviewer asked a lot of questions about pro wrestling, a subject Punk didn’t seem particularly thrilled to be talking about. If you’re hoping Punk gets the wrestling “itch” again sometime soon, well, keep dreaming. In this interview, Punk didn’t just come off as fed up with WWE, but pretty done with the concept of pro wrestling in general.
Punk seemed particularly down on the “fakeness” of pro wrestling, and how that robs you of a feeling of accomplishment.
“What does it mean to be a good fake wrestler? That’s an identity crisis that I think I struggled with. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best, someone else picks who they want in the top spot.
It’s fake. People always get offended by that word. ‘No, we like to say it’s pre-determined.’ For whatever reason, people get angry at fake. Pre-determined eases the blow? It’s fake. At the end of the day it doesn’t really mean anything. So after a while, it was, ‘Let’s just really fight and see what happens.’ Now I get to.”
I prefer to think of it as beautifully choreographed fight dancing, but that’s me. Punk also got into the backstage politics in WWE, and how guys actually punching each other in the face dispels a lot of that backbiting…
“Backstage [in WWE] is so shark-infested and political. It’s almost comical. A lot of people are more interested in the backstage goings-on than what they see on television. A lot of ways it’s more fascinating. It’s a competition for sure.
You wonder, Did you really punch me in the face? You say it was an accident but I know you and I think you’re a prick and I’ve seen you do this to other people. Are you doing this to me? Did you kick me in the ribs as hard as you can? In MMA I know the other guy is going to try and kick me in the ribs as hard as he can. No, not maliciously. But I’ve been in the wrestling ring with plenty of guys where I’m wondering, Is he is trying hurt me? Is he mad because he is losing? I don’t have to deal with that bullshit any more. It’s a godsend.”
Of course, UFC isn’t exactly Shanghai-La. The company can be almost as controlling and manipulative of their talent as WWE at times. So, will Punk be playing the rebel in UFC, as well?
“At the moment, no. It’s an interesting question and I don’t know how to answer it. I’m not trying to shy away from it, but I’ve been treated great. At lot of what I said and did in WWE, that was about trying to help out the other guys. After a while, I realized, Wow, that other guy doesn’t even appreciate it. Nobody cared. Why was I bending over backwards to make it a better workplace for you, when you don’t give a shit? I see the similarities between WWE and UFC but I see the differences. And, again, I’ve been treated great. I do things based on firsthand experience.”
Punk isn’t the only pro wrestler interested in MMA. A lot of other wrestlers talk about getting into the octagon, but Punk called most of them out for being all talk.
“Half of them talk about it; none of them do it. They have their little comfortable safety net doing WWE stuff, I guess. I would much rather give it a shot than just talk about it.”
Punk got into the differences between wrestling and MMA training, and the reason why he’s not particularly sweating the MMA training…
“[In WWE] you’re on the road pretty much every day of the year, at least when you’re in the position I was in. Fly into a town. Find a gym, work out. Go to the building. Stretch. Wrestle. Cool down. Drive to the next town. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Now I’m just training. What an easy job, right? It’s way better for me. I was burnt out on traveling, so over it. People think I’m crazy, living in Chicago and driving to Milwaukee every day to train. That’s the easiest thing in the world! Ninety minutes from my front door and I can be in my own bed every night? It’s a different lifestyle and it’s done me wonders. Amazing. I love it.
The real tough sons of bitches are the guys who train as hard as I do and then have to go to their nine-to-five job. I’m fortunate enough to do this as a full-time job. So I get to train two or three times a day. Things are going to be okay for me.”
Ultimately, Punk’s biggest advantage may be that he has so much experience under the bright lights.
“Easily my biggest advantage. Whether that factors into a fight, I’m not sure. But, yeah, bright lights don’t bother me. Attention doesn’t bother me. I’ve walked out too many times to count in front of 70,000 or 80,000 people and it was like, Eh, another day at the office.”
And, the most fundamental question… will Punk be able to stand up to fists hitting his face for reals?
“I’ve been beat up before. What it boils down to: what’s the worst thing that’s going to happen to me? I’m going to get beat up? All right. That’s how I look at it.”
Certainly a little more sass on some of those answers than some of his early UFC comments. Seems like Mr. Punk may be UFC heel character. What do you think about Punk’s comments on pro wrestling? Do you think he’s taking MMA a little lightly in some respects? What about his ball? Did he take it and go home? Let’s talk.