UFC Hall of Famer and independent wrestler Stephan Bonnar spoke with Wrestling Inc. president Raj Giri this week about his match with Steve Madison at PCW-Ultra this Friday. During the interview, Giri asked Bonnar about his thoughts on CM Punk dealing with a trial leading up to his fight at UFC 225 this Saturday.
As noted, a Cook County, Illinois jury ruled in favor of Punk and Colt Cabana in WWE Senior Ringside Physician Chris Amaan's libel and slander trial against them. The ruling lifted a huge weight off Punk's shoulders because Amaan was seeking over $1 million, claiming Punk and Cabana defamed him during a podcast in 2014. Now Punk can focus on the final preparations for his fight against Mike Jackson, who is also a fighter with an 0-1 record.
Bonnar said he respects Punk because of how much pressure he is dealing with. He believes Saturday's fight is a better situation for him than his first UFC fight was, and he sees it as a great marketing opportunity for the UFC.
"That is real pressure. A lot of people ask me how the pressure is in professional wrestling, but really it is not that bad. Win or lose, you get paid the same. The locker room is happy and good feelings compared to a UFC fight your money is cut in half when the decision doesn't go your way. Then it's like, oh, he should be cut. You don't get worried about losing your job, and people tell you that you are done and things like that. That is real pressure," Bonnar said. "CM Punk has to deal with that - especially leading up to a fight. I saw a clip with Donald Cerrone talking about that, like the pressure we face going into a fight. He is right. A lot of that is overlooked, so win or lose for CM Punk, just going into that and the weight cut, just for him to step up and do that. He has my respect."
"This is what he needed," he continued. "He needed to face a guy who is close to his skill level; to pair him up with a young, hungry up and comer, it really isn't fair. The guy is approaching 40. It's not like he an NCAA Division I Champion like Brock Lesnar. He has the cards stacked against him. I was upset that he was fed among the wolves in that first fight. I know that it is the UFC, but this is a winnable fight for him, which is what makes it interesting. If anything, more people are going to tune in because of it. It is a win-win for UFC, a win-win for CM Punk. It is a perfect fight for him. If they would have fed him to the wolves again I would have scratched my head and turn away, but this is the right thing for him to be able to sell pay-per-views."
Bonnar will face Steve Madison at PCW-Ultra this Friday. He discussed how PCW-Ultra compares to some of the other independent promotions he has worked for. He said he's excited for his match because he gets the chance to show what he has learned in pro wrestling. Bonnar said he expects the PCW audience to enjoy the performance because they are hardcore wrestling fans.
"Honestly, it is a hell of an indie show. I am really digging the indie wrestling world. I have done some good shows. I have done that angle with Impact, who I wouldn't call an indie federation, they are right under the WWE. I got a chance to do House of Glory out in New York City. IWS [International Wrestling Syndicate] out in Montreal, Canada, and PCW out in Los Angeles. They are a hell of an indie show. You see the same faces there. They put on a really great show. Each time I go there I am more and more impressed, so I am excited to be debuting on their shows," he said. "Even though I am a heel, whatever, they are great fans. I will give them that. I am excited. I am looking forward to getting in there. I am The American Psycho, trained by Carlson Gracie, I have a Black Belt in just about everything. I am going to go in there and show off some of the things that I learned in pro wrestling, but ultimately I am going to be putting people to sleep and choke them out. It is up to the fans. What is my finishing move? I don't know. I know hundreds of choke out moves that I can use in there and I will use the one that the fans will pop for the most, so I am going to go in there this Friday and see what I come up with. If you like it then let me know."
Bonnar also revealed that he does hope to be a top star on the independent scene. Bonnar said he hopes to take a page out of Matt Riddle's book since he has successfully transitioned from MMA fighter to professional wrestler. At 41, Bonnar knows he's doesn't have a future in WWE, but he has a real desire learn the business and to have a successful wrestling career.
"My goal, my honest-to-God goal is to be Matt Riddle. I have talked to him and he is pretty much booked every weekend; he is booked on all of the top shows, he is having a blast. That is the life. It is the epitome of indie wrestling at its finest. Yeah, if I can keep going the way I am and getting to that point, I would be totally happy. Everyone assumes that the ultimate goal is WWE but it really isn't. I am trying to learn the art of pro wrestling, have fun and enjoy myself," Bonnar said. "I am a little too old for WWE anyway. It's not in my heart to be set on it, but to be able to stay busy over the weekends and travel around and to be able to do indie shows and be able to design these fight scenes and to cut promos from my own heart, all those things. I am doing this because I am enjoying it. People assume that I am doing it for the money and fame but that is not necessarily the case. I want to learn the art of pro wrestling and do these indie shows and see where that goals. That is my main goal."
PCW Ultra: Opposites Attack takes place this Friday at the ILWU Memorial Hall in Wilmington, CA. In addition to Bonnar vs. Madison, Penta El Zero will defend the PCW Ultra World Heavyweight Championship in a steel cage, while PCW Ultra World Light Heavyweight Champion Shane Strickland will put his title on the line against Dragon Lee. Tessa Blanchard will defend the PCW Ultra World Women's Championship against Rachael Ellering and Warbeast will defend the PCW Tag Titles against OVE. ACH, Hammerstone, Jeff Cobb, Brody King and Darby Allin will also be in action. You can purchase tickets for the show at PCWUltra.com.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.