CM Punk is on top of the world winning multiple championships over the past few years. The three-time world heavyweight champion has added to his legend with high profile matches against the Rock and the Undertaker, Punk has further established himself as one of the best in the business. His match against Brock Lesnar set for Sunday, Aug. 18 is sure to be a barn burner. We spoke with CM Punk about everything from his match with Brock at SummerSlam to wrestling the Undertaker at Wrestlemania.
Interview by Rafael Canton (@RafelitoC7)
With SummerSlam only days away, how excited are you for your match with Brock Lesnar?
I’m very excited. It’s going to be a lot of fun, but my idea of fun comparatively speaking to other people’s idea of fun is a little bit different. I don’t mind getting punched in the face. It kind of wakes me up and gets me excited. I’m planning on having a lot of fun.
This is your first match with Brock, so how much does this being your first time play into the excitement?
I like to keep things fresh. I like new things, so to get in the ring with a different opponent like Brock Lesnar, I think is super exciting.
What drives you after all of these years in the wrestling industry?
I think being angry is what keeps me motivated. Goals wise, I’ve accomplished everything I’ve wanted to. Certain things just piss me off. When I hear people say that they don’t think that I can do something or they don’t think I belong somewhere, that’s all it takes for me to prove them wrong and it’s motivation.
Is there a SummerSlam moment that you remember the most during your career?
It’s going to be a lot of fun, but my idea of fun comparatively speaking to other people’s idea of fun is a little bit different. I don’t mind getting punched in the face.
I don’t know; I think I’ve become the unofficial Mr. SummerSlam. SummerSlam always seems to be my pay-per-view. I had a hell of a match with John Cena a couple of years ago. The match I had last year with Big Show and a brutal TLC match with Jeff Hardy are up there. For SummerSlam, I always seem to have a brighter spotlight than a lot of people which is obviously a reason why I’m excited for myself and Brock Lesnar.
What are you excited to see the most on the card outside of your match?
Of course I’ll be watching Daniel Bryan and John Cena. I think everybody’s going to be watching that.
You broke the fourth wall with your speech back in 2011. Do you think that breaking the fourth wall is what generates the interest and respect from fans?
I think what’s captivating about me on the microphone is my honesty. I think in terms of breaking the fourth wall, most wrestling fans don’t even know what that means. In theater, there’s a fourth wall in between the fans and the performers. The only reason I looked directly into the camera that day and said “oh look, I’m breaking the fourth wall” wasn’t a snarky “oh hey look everybody, I’m saying things I’m not supposed to say.”
It was strictly to piss off Vince (McMahon) because he hates when people look directly into the camera. That’s all it was and that’s all it is. That’s the fourth wall. It’s not “hey everybody, wrestling’s fake, and I’m real.” No, the fourth wall is the camera that is in between the people at home and the performers on the stage. I think of that because in my mind, I was getting fired after that whole thing anyway so I’m going to do everything that I possibly could to potentially do to push more.
In a lot of ways, what you said in that speech involves a lot of personal feelings and opinions. What’s the preparation like for something like that? Do you practice that or just go in and freestyle?
I don’t prepare. I’ve done this over half of my life. That’s my preparation. If you can’t do it by now, you probably should quit. I kind of despise people who prepare. It means that they have no heart. Don’t be a pussy, just go out there and do it.
You had a four month stretch facing the Rock (twice) and the Undertaker at Wrestlemania? Was that a surreal stretch?
I wouldn’t say surreal. I wouldn’t have been there if I didn’t belong there. I like being tested like that. I like testing other people that way. It wasn’t surreal, it was exactly where I needed to be.
What was the experience like wrestling Undertaker at Wrestlemania?
I was calm the entire time. I’ve done this half my life. This is what I prepare for. I don’t tend to get butterflies or get nervous anymore. To me, Wrestlemania’s like going out there and doing the show. I don’t care what anybody else says. I did that. I did that with the Undertaker. I think that one’s going to go down in history. Of course everyone’s like "it’s not going to be as good as this match," and where are all those people now? The experience as a whole is a positive one. Except for the whole breaking my leg thing, that kind of sucked, but sometimes things work out that way.
What’s it like having to come back from an injury like that? Is it hard to come back and then get back into that groove of competing since there are so many days spent on the road?
I’m not going to say it’s easy. It’s definitely hard, but you gotta understand that I’ve been doing this since 1997. The two months that I had off in between Wrestlemania and The Payback pay-per-view in Chicago. The first two months off I’ve had in my entire life. That two months is nothing. The first four weeks of that I could barely walk. It’s not much of a break at all.
This business can chew you up and spit you out. It will burn you out if you don’t take time for yourself. In terms of taking a break, I had to. I probably wouldn’t be wrestling right now if I didn’t. Eventually, I would’ve had to have another major surgery and that’s what I’m trying to avoid.
I kind of despise people who prepare. It means that they have no heart. Don’t be a p*ssy, just go out there and do it.
You partnered up with Nerdist to start a YouTube series Grammar Slam. How did that come about?
Chris Hardwick was just kind of tickled pink by the idea of the badass pro wrestler who was for good grammar. He pitched the idea and we went ahead and did it. We went to L.A. months ago and filmed all of those videos.
Is it fun correcting your fans for the improper grammar they use when they hit you up on Twitter?
It’s not so much fun doing the correcting. It’s fun watching the responses and watching the fan reaction.
You said in an interview with GQ "I think pro wrestling—for some reason, our company doesn't like to call it that, but that's what it is, so that's what I call it—it doesn't seem to get a lot of mainstream attention until somebody dies."
What do you think will bring WWE back to main news for other things outside of wrestlers dying. What do you think is holding back the WWE from being on SportsCenter and being covered by mainstream media outlets?
Well there’s always going to be the contention that the WWE isn’t going to be a “legitimate” sport. You could go off on a whole big tangent of what sport is legitimate now with murderers playing in the NFL, all kinds of convicted felons running around, and everyone’s on drugs.
People are going to point the finger and try to stigmatize pro wrestling as being some sort of phony, fringe sport. It is what it is. I like what I like as other people certainly are given free rein to like what they like. I don’t think we’re trying to get sports channels. Sports channels don’t report on Brad Pitt and his movies as well and that’s fine with me.
You’ve written forewords and introductions, and overall you seem to really be into writing. Do you ever see yourself writing a book down the line?
Yeah, I’d say that I’m 100 percent positive that eventually I’m going to do something like that. I’m still pretty young though, only 34 so I have a lot of life left to live and I don’t know if I’m ready to tell my life story yet. Eventually down the road I will write something.
What was your favorite SummerSlam moment to watch as a kid?
I’m being selfish because I saw it live as the first event in Chicago’s brand new United Center. SummerSlam 1994, the Bret Hart-Owen Hart cage match. I was there live so it was a precious moment for me.