AEW star CM Punk recently sat down with NYC radio host Josh Martinez to talk all things AEW. Ever since AEW emerged as a competitor to WWE, there has been a lot of toxicity amongst fans on social media. Punk discussed the toxic tribalism in pro wrestling and how he deals with it.

“I get it. I think I go back and forth on this,” Punk admitted. “Your a Rangers fan. I’m a Blackhawks fan. We are in some ways at odds, but I look at it like, they’re both original six teams. I respect the Rangers, even though they haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1994. Mark Messier is a hell of a captain, great hockey player, tough as nails. So I look at it like that.

“A lot of times, there’s a ton of tribalism in sports, but there’s one NFL. I don’t think anybody’s saying that the CFL is better than the NFL or arena football is better, so it get tedious and strange, sometimes. And I think as long as people don’t take stuff too far and get personal with it, like some people get personal with me right out of the gate, and I’m just like, okay, whatever. A lot of it isn’t in the real world. Twitter, and Instagram and all that stuff is social media and is not in any way shape or form the real world. So that’s why I like to focus on the people in the building.”

Punk has been very open about why he chose AEW over WWE. His main point is that AEW offers many new things for him to do as opposed to WWE. Punk gave an example of what he probably would have done if he chose to return to WWE.

“I literally want to wrestle everybody, but I’m telling a specific story here of coming back, kind of restarting, rekindling my love for pro wrestling,” Punk said. “If I went back to WWE, what would I do? There’s a formula. There’s a track record and a formula. This is what they do. Batista comes back, he wins the Royal Rumble, he main events WrestleMania. Edge comes back. He’s in the Royal Rumble. I think he was in it twice.

“He might have won, I don’t know. He goes on the main event WrestleMania. There’s a formula and I was bored of that sh*t 10 years ago, so I’m bored of it now. I understand people saying that they don’t like certain things and all that, then it’s not for you. I get it. Like I said, I’m there for the fans in the building. I’m telling the stories that I want to tell, and I’m having fun doing it. You’ll know when it’s not fun for me because I won’t do it.”

Punk has been away from wrestling for over seven years. He is a long-time veteran of the business and has admitted he is very old school at times. He spoke on what differences he has seen in locker rooms today compared to when he started out in the business.

“I mean, it’s youth. There for certain is a youth movement in wrestling, and there’s a lot more cycle breakers in the locker rooms nowadays,” Punk said. “The people that never understood why they were treated a certain way, but we’re all on the same team, and instead of continuing to do that tradition, then passing that down, hazing, bullying, whatever you want to call it, there’s people like myself that are just like, we’re just tired of it.

“I’m not paying that forward. I’m going to treat people the way that I wasn’t treated, the way I thought that everybody should have been treated, with a smile and a hug rather than a ‘oh, you got to earn my respect’ or some weird macho bullsh*t. It’s just a more conducive working environment. If somebody wants to look at that and say that it’s soft, that’s fine. I know people in the locker room that are hard as nails but just because you’re a tough guy doesn’t mean you need to be mean to other people.”

If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.

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