In an appearance on Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette, AEW star CM Punk talked about his time working on WWE Backstage at Fox, a move he does believe contributed to his return to wrestling with AEW. Punk spoke fondly of his time with the show, one that he only did because it was associated with Fox more than WWE.
“I think doing the Fox show with you. Honestly, I hadn’t spoken to you since I left probably, rekindled a friendship and was kind of the gateway to opening up the possibility in my head that wrestling could be an option,” Punk said. “I don’t know where in the timeline AEW kind of started or launched during the Fox thing, because there was a show. The Young Bucks, Omega, Cody, they did a show in Chicago before AEW was, I guess, officially a thing.
“I don’t know where in that I was doing the Fox thing, but the Fox thing was too good to be true. It was great. Because people legitimately were like, ‘oh you went back to WWE.’ No, I went to Fox! It’s amazing the way people in the real world treat human beings. Fox flew to Milwaukee, I was in Milwaukee. They were like, ‘we’ll come to Chicago or Milwaukee.’ Jacob Spoon and Ben flew to Milwaukee and it was kind of a formal but informal meeting.
“We ordered food and I was very adamant of, ‘guys, I don’t want anything to do with them. I don’t want to work for them. So, I don’t know if this is a Trojan Horse?’ I didn’t want that, and I was like, ‘I want transparency and honesty.’ And they were like, ‘we have Smackdown coming to Fox. We want an analyst show as a lead in or whatever, just like we have a football panel.’ I was like ‘makes sense, it’s a good idea.’ They’re like ‘you’re the guy, you’re the white whale.’ And I was like ‘well, I’m the white whale that probably has nothing good to say.’ But they were like, ‘we need honesty. We’re paying them a lot of money and we hope the show is good.’ I was like, ‘great.’ I thought I was fair on the show. When stuff was bad I was like, ‘eh.’ There was stuff I liked. But I think that was the whole start of possibly the idea. It was just an idea, and working with great people. Everybody at Fox was so great.”
Punk also touched upon his time with WWE, once again describing it as a shark tank where talent was pitted against each other for a spot. The former WWE Champion declared he never wanted to take anyone’s spot, preferring to make a spot of his own.
“My perspective is, I came up in a place that was a shark tank full of bullies that were protecting their spot,” Punk said. “And it wasn’t about what was good or bad or right or wrong, it was what I did was always bad and always wrong. And there were people who ran the show who told me to my face, ‘I don’t get it.’ And I’d be like, ‘well then, what the f**k are we doing?’ Cause if I’m in developmental, and to liken it to playing Triple A ball, I want to make it to the major leagues. And if I’m hitting home runs, and I’m the home run king in Triple A ball, and I get called up to the major leagues and the guy on the team on the team with the most home runs tells tells the hitting coach, the bench coach, and the manager, ‘that guy sucks.’ It’s just like, ‘we don’t just want to win games?’
“I came up around a lot of that, but I think that also makes me a cycle breaker. Kofi (Kingston)’s first day on the road I was like, ‘hey, you’re riding with me.’ He was like, ‘okay, great!’ Because I got there and I was picked on. I was already a grown ass man and I had these other grown ass men picking on me, and I was like, ‘why is this like high school?’ But that’s the culture, that’s what they want. ‘We want you guys to fight and we want you guys to want his spot.’ And I never wanted anybody’s spot. I wanted my own spot.”
Punk also got into how an act that’s over shouldn’t be pushed aside just because executives don’t get it, saying that the reaction of the fans is most important. He pointed specifically to an incident where a WWE executive/producer didn’t get him, and didn’t hold back on his criticisms for this unnamed individual.
“So when I got over, so to speak, there very much was a contingent that was ‘he’s one of us now. Watch us bury everybody!'” Punk said. “And I would be going, ‘nah man. That sucks. That’s not cool.’ And they’d be like, ‘oh.’ I love Jim (Ross), I do. But I think too often there’s, ‘I don’t get it, get it off TV.’
“I’ll use Orange Cassidy (as example), who I think at dinner the other night ate my sea bass. So there’s real heat there! But that’s a thing that I look at and go, ‘I don’t get it.’ But I listen to the people, and they react to him and they like him. So I’m like, ‘f**k yeah.’ Why would we throw that in the garbage?
“It just reminds me of when I showed up there and those same people were like, ‘I don’t get it.’ And I was like, ‘well, you’re 65 and you’re racist. I guess I’m super stoked that I’m not for you and you don’t get it.’ It’s not for me to get. It’s for the audience to get. And I think the culture for too long has generated this opinion that is just parroted by fans. And it’s like, ‘draw your own conclusions.’ I don’t like stuff because somebody else likes it. I like what I like. And if somebody else doesn’t like it, that doesn’t influence my opinion on that either way.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription