In a new interview with Sports Illustrated, AEW’s CM Punk emphasized how reinvigorated he feels returning to the squared circle after a seven year hiatus. And although it’s uncommon for people in the locker room to express how excited they are to be around certain stars, Punk says AEW is different.

“It hits me on a different level for a lot of reasons,” Punk says. “I’m not the kind to stand in the back and wait to go out. I’m running around backstage and I’m mingling. There’s a group of people, with their faces constantly changing, always around. And just seeing the look on their faces, that hits me right in the chest.

“Wrestling is different. You’re not supposed to be a ‘mark’ and you’re not supposed to take pictures with someone you share a locker room with. The culture is different in AEW. I get excited when Adam Cole’s music hits. I think he can see that on my face,” he continued. “There is an excitement in the locker room, and then I see the fans, and it’s amazing. Every new city I go to, these people haven’t seen me in seven years. It’s like Aug. 20 all over again for me.”

Punk looks at his return similarly to how NHL legend Ray Bourque moved from the Bruins to the Avalanche. Bourque’s team would build momentum until they won the Stanley Cup in 2001. “The Straight Edge Star” says his story will take on the same direction where he will build his way back to the top.

“Ray Bourque, that’s exactly who I am,” Punk says. “You’re going to have to Google that if you’re not a hockey person, but that’s exactly who I am. I’m the f**king old guy on the team, and I’m there to score goals, block shots and do whatever the f**k I can to help the team win. I’m there in those in-between moments in the locker room to help people along. That’s my role backstage.

“To me, that’s the story I want to tell on the screen. I see some of the comments like, ‘CM Punk’s not in the story line.’ Yes, I am. The story is I’ve been gone for seven years and I came back. I’m starting at the bottom and making my way to the top. That’s the story.”