Former AEW Star CM Punk Talks About Early Days Of Backyard Wrestling, Meeting Ace Steel

While accepting the Iron Mike Mazurki Award at the Cauliflower Alley Club's latest award ceremony, two-time AEW World Champion CM Punk talked about his start in professional wrestling career.

"The business was a lot different when I got in it," Punk said. "But the basics and the fundamentals of professional wrestling are the same as they ever was. If it worked in the 1940s, it can work today; you just have to know how to apply it. The basics and fundamentals of professional wrestling were taught to me by Ace Steel.


"I started goofing off in a backyard with my friends in 1993. It was just something to do. I liked comic books. I liked stuff that got me beaten up at school. I didn't fit in anywhere ... I got into this business because I loved it, but I also didn't fit in anywhere. I tried out for the football team in my freshman year of high school, they told me I had to cut my hair. I said, 'Well, that's not for me.'

"I was more into being the opinionated punk rock kid with a six-inch liberty spike mohawk. I thought that was more important at the time. I tried out for the wrestling team. They said, 'Congratulations, you made it. Man, you gotta f*****g cut that hair.' And now I walk around, and all the NFL players got mohawks."


Punk said he was the ambitious one among his friends when it came to backyard wrestling. The former WWE Champion explained that he "borrowed" some lumber from local businesses and built himself a wrestling ring. He said it turned into saving money to buy an actual ring. Punk mentioned that he and his friends ran their first backyard show in 1997; he thought they all sucked after watching the VHS tape back.

'it's been a love affair ever since'

Punk, who defeated Samoa Joe to retain the "Real World Championship" at this past Sunday's historic AEW All In pay-per-view at Wembley Stadium, then spoke about how meeting his mentor and current AEW backstage producer Ace Steel changed the direction of his wrestling career.


"I met Ace Steel and a guy named Danny Dominion in the bathroom of the Rosemont Horizon at a WWF house show," Punk said. "They gave me a business card. I was like, 'What is this? A wrestling school? I didn't know you had to go to school.' I had heat on me because I was a backyard wrestler. I showed up, and they beat the crap out of me, and it's been a love affair ever since.

"From there, I wrestled every weekend I possibly could. Nothing mattered — girlfriends, jobs, responsibilities. The only thing that I cared about was getting in a car with whoever I could and driving anywhere. And we were lucky because we were in Chicago. We were very central, like a drive to Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. I could cross over into Canada until I got thrown out the first time."


Punk told those in attendance at the Cauliflower Alley Club event that he had to put together a résumé and create a VHS with promos and matches to send out to promoters in the early days of his in-ring career. He said the first match that put him on the map was when he got to wrestle both Rey Mysterio and the late Eddie Guerrero — Punk faced Guerrero and Mysterio in a three-way match at IWA Mid-South's Spring Heat event in March 2002.

Punk was fired from AEW on Saturday, after getting in a physical altercation with former FTW Champion Jack Perry, and reportedly chewing out AEW President Tony Khan. As it stands, Steel is believed to still be with the promotion.