Former WWE Superstar and multi-time World Champion, CM Punk, recently took some time to speak with the 31 Thoughts podcast on Sportsnet about his career in combat and sports entertainment. Punk spent part of the interview going in-depth about the great influence Harley Race has had on his career. He even has a Harley tattoo planned to add to his ever-growing collection.
“The Harley Race tattoo is in motion,” Punk confirmed. “For sure [I have] two [sports tattoos] – I’ve got the cup for the Hawks and I got a little goat after the Cubs won the World Series. I guess the Misawa boot would be #3, I don’t know if I have any other wrestling related tattoos. I’m definitely going to get the Harley one memorialized. Me and two other people who were close with Harley are going to get that… I think Harley was a big piece of my career whether people realize it or not and he’s just somebody who deserves to be memorialized, I feel.”
Punk claims that many stars from past and present WWE have told him that Andre The Giant was legitimately “afraid” of Race when the two shared a locker room. Punk is uncertain if this is true, however, he can see how Harley’s behavior could give him the reputation of being a tough guy.
“Andre was supposedly afraid of Harley. There’s two guys that Andre ‘supposedly’ – because obviously, I never met Andre, just hear the stories,” Punk noted. “It was Harley and it was Haku. Those were the two that Andre – and people would tell me, ‘Well, he’s afraid of them.’ I don’t know if he was afraid of them but he knew not to mess with them. I think that speaks volumes, you know? People always talk about how tough Harley was, and he was. He could be a tough, mean, SOB.”
Punk had numerous endearing things to say about Race, but his absolute favorite story looked back at a moment when Harley stood up for Punk’s decision to lead a straight edge lifestyle. It included an obnoxious waitress, 20 shots of milk, and Harley Race’s birthday party.
“My favorite Harley story – It was his birthday, and we were in the bar, and we’re celebrating Harley’s birthday. And then all of a sudden, the waitress comes up and she’s got a tray of shots,” Punk began. “She puts the tray down and she’s putting shots in front of everybody. And there must have been, I don’t know, 20 or 22 of us in the bar. It’s Harley and all the wrestlers, you know? We just did a show in Eldon, Missouri and we’re in the bar eating and hanging out afterwards, and it’s his birthday so Harley got everybody shots. And the waitress puts one down in front of me and I said, ‘Can you get me a shot of soda? Whatever you’ve got – Coke, Pepsi, cranberry juice, whatever. And she was like, ‘Honey, Harley Race got you that shot. You’ve got to drink it.’
“Now, obviously she doesn’t know me,” Punk noted. “And I say, ‘I don’t drink’, and she’s like, ‘Honey, Harley Race got you that shot.’ And I say, ‘I understand that but I don’t drink.’ And she’s like, ‘Do you know who Harley Race is?!’ And I go, ‘Do you know who I am? I just worked for Harley Race. I know who Harley Race is. I appreciate the sentiment; I guess I’ll just sip my water if we’re making a toast.’ She’s just going on, and on, and on, and making a big deal about all this stuff.
“And finally, Harley comes over and explains to her, ‘Oh, he doesn’t drink.’ And that was the end of it, like she didn’t say anything else,” Punk continued. “She went, ‘Oh okay, I didn’t know’, even though I had already told her a thousand times. Like it was supposed to be this big slight, like, ‘Oh I’m not going to drink a shot’… In a second, [Harley] didn’t care. He just said, ‘That’s Punk, he doesn’t drink.’ That’s it, that was it and so that was the moment where I was like, ‘Holy s–t, this guy respects me. How cool is that? I’ve made it; I don’t need anything else – not money, not fame, not belts. Like, this guy was the closest thing to a living hero.
“So then I of course had to push the envelope. I felt a little bit left out that I didn’t get a shot, everyone else did, and Harley toasted when it’s his birthday. So, I walk up to the bar, I belly up, and I go, ‘Do you guys have milk?’ The bartender looks at me and she’s like, ‘Yeah, we’ve got milk.’ And I go, ‘1-2-3-4’ and I count everybody out and I go, ‘I need 20 shots of milk.’ And she was just like, [sighs] ‘Okay’. [She] gives me the twenty shots of milk, here I come with a big platter, I put it down , everybody gets a shot of milk. And I remember Harley looking at the milk, looking at me, and then looking at the milk. And he just goes, ‘Is that milk?’ And I went, ‘It sure is, Harley Race. Happy f–king birthday!’ And nobody wanted to touch their milk until Harley picked it up and raised his glass. And everyone raised their glass, made cheers with Harley Race, shot of milk,” Punk finished.
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Sportsnet with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.