At a Q&A promoting episode three of Heels, attended by Wrestling Inc.’s own Nick Hausman, CM Punk talked about how his wrestling past helped prepare him for the role. He also delved into his reputation of being hard to deal with, indicating that’s not entirely accurate.
“I was on television twice a week, 52 weeks a year for eight, nine, ten years? So I get that all the time,” Punk said. “And there’s this vicious rumor that I’m hard to deal with and I’m mean. I think it’s because I played a bad guy on wrestling television for so long, that people confuse the two. And yeah, there’s instances where I’m like ‘man I really did my job.’ And then there’s instances where I’m like ‘come on man. I’m out with my wife. Let me just eat.'”
Punk plays Ricky Rabies on Heels and has long hinted that a known wrestling name was the key inspiration. While he acknowledged Terry Funk and Michael P.S. Hayes as influences, the true inspiration for the character was a pro wrestler who unfortunately passed away a few years ago.
“Ricky Rabies is Tracy Smothers,” Punk said. “We lost Tracy a couple of years ago and he was a guy, he was the first name I ever wrestled. I wrestled Tracy Smothers in a barn in Southern Indiana in 1999 or 2000, something like that. And he just walked up to me and said ‘hey man. I’ve seen you work, you’re good. Listen, I can’t remember s**t so is okay if we just go out there and do it? I can’t memorize this and that. We can talk about it but I’ll just forget it. So can we go out there?’ And I was terrified because at that stage of my career I would have to sit down and be like ‘you want to do this and then I’ll do this and then we’ll go do this?’
“So I went out there and Tracy knew what he was doing. And I remember at one time in the match he grabbed somebody’s nachos. And he had the nacho cheese in his hand. Now I’m in a barn in Southern Indiana, there’s no shower, there’s no nothing. I drive from Chicago all the way down there, five and a half, six hours, and then we get the car and we drive back. And we’re lucky if we get gas money. He’s about to hit me with this and he goes ‘block it. Hit me with the cheese brother.’ I was like ‘f**k yeah!’ I learned how to work because of Tracy Smothers. I only wish he was here to see this ridiculous s**t, because I think he’d love it.”