As noted last week, ESPN’s Bill Simmons had CM Punk on his podcast last week after Punk returned on RAW. Here are highlights from the the interview:
Simmons opened up by mentioning CM Punk using “Cult of Personality” as his new theme since he wrote a big column on entrance music. Punk said the new song is “very permanent,” and feels like big changes in a character warrant things like a change in look, music, gear, etc. He gave props to Living Colour and said “Cult of Personality” fit where his character is. He said it was the only choice for a song, and came about as “a wink and a nod” to his ROH days when he used it. He said that he could have come out to “The Ice Cream Man” truck song and the fans would have “lost their sh-t.” He noted that MITB was his WrestleMania, and he’s in a position to do what he wants. He said it probably cost the company a lot of money, but he “was totally worth it.” He said it was a cool way to give back to the band Living Colour, since he’s been a fan of them for so many years.
Simmons called MITB “one of the best pay-per-views ever,” and asked about how long they planned to keep the angle going. Punk said that it would have been good to be off of television for as long as possible, but that SummerSlam is coming up and the company needed something for it and that this was the logical way to go.
Punk was asked about whether he would become a babyface due to his popularity. Punk said he’s going to just be himself, and that he’s never done anything formulaic.
“I grew very bored of pro wrestling for a very long time… and to a certain extent, I still am” said Punk. “I still watch certain guys on the roster and I wonder, man, how can you do the same thing day in and day out on all our house shows, so I’m constantly trying to do things different.”
When asked if he received any heat from the guys backstage, he said that he’s not trying to hurt anybody’s feelings or sabotage anybody, and that everything he says, he’s said to people’s faces.
Punk was then asked about his infamous promo on RAW in June and how much thought was put into it. Punk said that they knew they were going to cut the mic off, so he thought about he real he could make it.
“When I say it was a 100 percent real, I said it because it came from the heart,” he said. “It wasn’t anything anybody, including myself, put down on a piece of paper. I know what I can and can’t say, I know what going too far is and I went a little bit too far on a couple of things, but it wasn’t anything that was going to hurt business.”
He noted that things like saying hello to Colt Cabana would “jar” even “the most jaded wrestling fan.” He then said that some fans aren’t happy no matter what they do, and he wished that fans would wait for the story to unfold and that they’re doing a great job so far.
“I really just want to mess with everybody,” said Punk. “I wish everybody would shut up, sit back, and watch it unfold. I’m telling stories, and since about 2005, that’s all I’ve said, I’m a storyteller. I think we’re doing a great job so far. You can pick it apart and be an armchair booker and say what would be better, but until the tell-all book comes out, trust me, I’m dodging bullets and doing a very good job.”
Simmons asked if Punk had any doubt over the last six months if he was coming back.
“Absolutely, my mind was made up, I was done,” Punk revealed. “100 percent.” He went on to say that MITB changed that.
“The funny thing is that I wasn’t trying to hold out for a better deal, I wasn’t playing my cards close to the vest. I had a gigantic life decision to make and it wasn’t easy. It took me a very long time, a lot of sleepless nights, and I still wasn’t sure. It’s kind of a big deal.”
When asked what he would have done if he would have not returned, Punk replied, “sat on the couch.”
Simmons noted that Punk is luring casual viewers back in, and Punk said he’s getting noticed ten times more since that promo.
Simmons then asked Punk to walk him back through MITB.
“I don’t know if I can put it into words, I don’t know if I can really describe it,” Punk replied. “I think I work better in high pressure situations, and for me at least, there’s never been a higher pressure situation. I’ve been vocal about my spot and where I think I should have been and now, all eyes are on me. We’ve done it before where we’re in my hometown and I try to get them to boo me and a lot of times, to my credit, I got it to work. But this time there was none of that. I wanted Chicago to be Chicago, I was going to be me and John was going to be John. There really was no other way to do it.
“That crowd, they were 100% superstars that night. Me and John could have had a great match in any other city, but Chicago put it over the edge. Somebody described it as the perfect storm, which I can’t argue with that description at all. Very exciting, very cool, a lot of people that I know were there. It was a once in a lifetime thing, like lightning in a bottle.”
Punk went on to note that he hasn’t watched the match with Cena, stating, “I haven’t watched it. I’m not going to watch it because I’m positive I’ll hate it. I already know what I would’ve done to make it better, I know what I’ll do next time to make it better.
“I can guess what this crowd is going to do, but I don’t know to what extent or what volume so why am I going to shoehorn a bunch of ideas into something when… let’s just go out there and have fun, and everybody have fun; me, the crowd, John.
“I’m not going to watch it because I’ll feel like… it was not good. Does that make any sense?”
Punk noted that he heard from a lot of legends, and “thankfully” nobody had anything negative to say. He said he likes criticism.
Simmons then asked Punk why he hadn’t received this kind of push.
“I don’t know,” he replied. “I think it has a lot to do with I’ve been the same guy since I came into this company. I’ve always been critical. I’ve always opened my mouth, certainly when I never should have and it’s gotten me in trouble. I’ve never kissed ass. I don’t wear suits. I don’t wear dress shoes.
“A lot of times they like the guys… the guys and/or girls who are more media friendly. I mean, let’s face it, I’m not very media friendly. Chances are if you put a guy like Miz — I’ll use him as an example because he’s very good at what he does with the talk shows and the media circuits and stuff like that — in my opinion he gives very rehearsed, corporate answers to everything. It’s almost like he’s been coached on what to say. I don’t work that way. I just can’t. My answers are honest and they’re organic whether somebody likes it or not. I’m not safe in that regard. So, putting me on Jay Leno or whatever, I’m going to ask Jay Leno why he screwed Conan O’Brien, I don’t care what anyone says, I want to know why he screwed Conan O’Brien.”
Simmons noted that he had Miz on his show recently, and felt that Miz was very honest and suggested that the reason why many of Miz’s interviews may seem rehearsed is because of the interviewer.
He then asked if Punk has a good relationship with Vince McMahon and if McMahon was happy about how the angle was playing out.
“Yeah, I’d like to think so [laughs],” Punk replied. “Ummm, I think everybody is happy, for now. I think this business is also very what have you done for me lately. The hardest thing wasn’t getting on top, the hardest thing is staying on top. I think a lot of people would agree with that. But, as far as I know, he’s ecstatic with it. It feels fresh. It’s something new, and there generally seems to be kind of like something in the air.
“I’m not saying it’s 100 percent me. I feel like a lot of people have wanted a lot of change for a very long time. If I was a guy who was a catalyst for it, that’s great, but there’s a ton of people that are misused and upset and I’m not just talking about the wrestlers. I’m talking about the fans too. There’s a lot of people who are invested in what we do. They really want to love everything and sometimes it gets hard to watch the show when you’re letdown constantly.”
Simmons noted that since WWE bought WCW, it didn’t seem like the continuity was there and that everything kind of felt the same. Punk agreed, saying, “I think for a long time that there was nothing that was hot. I think the logo was drawing, probably not as well as it could be. It’s been a very long time since one specific person or one specific storyline got people to come to the shows.
“I’m not in it just to make a bunch of money for me, I’m not in it just to make things better for me. I want to change the whole game, you know? I want everyone to be as innovative or creative, or as sought after as me. If everybody’s over, if everybody’s making more money, then everybody’s watch the show.”
On influences on his career, Punk said, “the first guy that I latched onto, that took the time to teach me stuff was Eddie Guererro. Growing up, I was enamored with “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, I loved chubby bad-guy Shawn Michaels — wearing the dangling earnings with Sensational Sherri — I was of course a huge “Macho Man” Randy Savage fan… those were the main guys.
“Guys like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels — they weren’t as big as the Hulk Hogan’s or whatever — and that was their biggest criticism, and now I find myself in that same exact position. I think that this business is always going to need guys like myself, guys like Bret Hart… I’m not comparing myself to Bret Hart who’s light years ahead of me, he’s the greatest of all time, but it’s always going to need the wrestlers.”
Simmons asked when Punk felt comfortable on the mic to be able to go in front of 16,000 fans and improvise.
“I don’t think I can provide an answer that doesn’t sound like it’s dripping with dripping, ego-maniacal self-confidence. I think since day one I’ve been ready to do that.
“When I was feuding with Jeff Hardy, I finally got to be me. The guy that says this is my name, and I don’t do this and I don’t do this and I don’t do that is kind of one-dimensional. I wasn’t being holier that thou or preachy, but we’re catering to pro wrestling fans here. I’d venture to guess that 90% of our fans drink beer and are kind of blue collar. Then here’s this guy with tattoos saying I don’t drink or smoke or do drugs.”
The topic turned to how risky the business has gotten.
“I think it’s our job to kind of dumb it down,” said Punk. “For awhile it was like every match had some sort of furniture and chairs. What do you do to top that? Let’s throw somebody off a building. Let’s put somebody through something that’s on fire. It’s just like, after awhile, the crowd gets so desensitized and they want to see something bigger, and that’s just a dangerous spot to put yourself in. I certainly… I certainly never want to do another Money in the Bank match, I’ll tell you that much. Those things are dangerous, legit.
“Watch one of those matches. You’ve got somebody who is 240 pounds standing on the ladder and somebody else is jumping on the ladder. Those things twist and they bend and they break. The next thing you know you have some sharp implement sticking out of the ladder. There were a few times in some of those matches that if somebody bumped six inches to the right or the left or whatever it may be, and they would have been impaled by like some part of the ladder that was sticking up. Yeah, those are very dangerous matches.”
Simmons asked Punk about Comic Con: “It was a lot of fun. To my point, see what happens when you just kind of do stuff? I think it’s very hard to the owner of a billion dollar company and just say, ‘Hey, just trust me, I’m not going to go out there and drop my pants and go streaking, just let me have a little bit of free reign with this, I will do everything within certain guidelines, but you gotta push the envelope a little bit. Nobody in this business who made it to the top did it by just doing everything they were told and not taking chances. I think I have the best guts in the business and sometimes my gut tells me to do something, and I do it. That whole Comic Con thing is a perfect example of it. It’s unscripted, it was fun. I’m not trying to work all the boys and stuff like that, but I think it’s better when they don’t know stuff. Two of the most flattering texts I got after the match and the whole deal, one was from Christian and one was from Rey [Mysterio], two guys I respect to the umpteenth degree. Their work speaks for themselves. But when they text me, and they said, ‘We had no idea what was going on and we got to watch that match and we felt like fans,’ that’s the biggest compliment in the world.”
Simmons went on to ask Punk on the future and what’s coming.
“Everyone says it’s a new Attitude Era and you’re the second coming of Steve Austin. That’s completely false. I’m C.M. Punk. If I can call the new era anything, I’d call it ‘The Reality Era’. I think we have a very talented roster. I think times change so much and certain people are out of touch with stuff that I don’t know if a lot of the talent, if people know how to present them in the right light.
“Guys like Kofi [Kingston] and Dolph Ziggler, I think these guys are awesome, but I think everybody needs to step back and things need to be done differently. I don’t think ratings matter as much as everyone thinks they do anymore. When Nitro and Raw were going head-to-head, the combined ratings were like a nine, sometimes a ten, so like where did these millions of people go and why are we still living and dying based on those ratings when we don’t have competition?
“Let’s look at our options. There’s a billion different ways you can go, and millions of directions for millions of different situations. I just think that we can do things differently and better.”
Punk then gave his take on his favorite current wrestler.
“Rey Mysterio, hands down,” Punk replied. “Absolutely. Rey is amazing. Rey knows who he is. Rey knows what he is. He’s amazing at everything he does. Rey has the ability to make anybody he gets in the ring with look ten times better than they really are.
“He works hard, and you just can’t teach experience. That’s a quote of [Chris] Jericho’s, Jericho would always say to me, ‘you can’t teach experience.’ He was a guy I asked a lot of advice from when I was like, ‘I’m leaving, I’m splitting.’ He said, ‘you’ll always be able to go back, you can’t teach experience.'”
Simmons noted that he felt Jericho’s career could have been better than it was to which Punk said, “Well, he took a big break and that helped him eventually. That was kind of the blue print for what I was going to do. I’m pretty beat up. I narrowly avoided hip surgery in November, that was when I was doing commentary. That was the one that kind of shook me up. I had just gotten my elbow scoped over the summer. I got my elbow scoped, and I didn’t miss a show. When I did my hip, that was kind of like a wake up call. I was like, ‘OK, I’m 32 and I’m about to have a hip surgery.’ No matter how good the surgeon is, no matter how not the surgery went, it’s still a surgery. The rehab was going to suck and it’s my hip, you know? I would like to walk — and normally — for the rest of my life so it opened my eyes up to a lot of different things.
“Right now I’m healthy as can be, typical bumps and bruises and stuff like that.”
Punk finished by saying that “a lot of people are embarrassed about pro wrestling and I don’t think anyone needs to be. My goal is to make this sh-t cool again. It’s not just going to be me who does it, it’s going to be me and Cena and Miz and Rey Mysterio. That’s where the team effort comes in. I want to open this thing wide open like it was in the late 90s.”
Once again, you can listen to the entire interview by clicking here, it’s definitely worth a listen.
Source: The B.S. Report