CM Punk Says He Is “Leading By Example” In AEW

CM Punk was on a recent episode of the AEW Unrestricted podcast with Aubrey Edwards and Tony Schiavone. Punk discussed his AEW debut and more of his plans in AEW. Punk has made a few appearances on commentary, and he spoke on doing commentary and how that came about in AEW.

"The commentary thing always started off as a joke. It always seemed like when I was hurt too," Punk stated. "I remember the first time I ever did commentary. I think it was for Ian Rotten's IWA, and I had fractured my skull, but I still would go to shows because I was a loser and I had nothing else to do. And I remember just being there, and Dave Prazak and me did commentary and I think we wound up doing a whole deathmatch tournament commentary.

"It was fun, and I think we were a really good team. I think we were really good at it. So that grew into when I was injured in WWE at one time. I would sit in and do commentary. I don't know it was just something that kind of came natural to me, and everybody was always like, 'Wow, you're you're really good at this! What the hell?' We had an idea of me doing commentary on one of Darby's matches, and we did that, but I was legit backstage going, 'I want to do the whole show.'

"I'm not trying to take nobody's job. I just think it's a cool way to get CM Punk on the show without doing the same things over and over. It's just a different look. Obviously, selfishly, I was like, I want to work with Tony, and JR and Excalibur, and I got to have a lot of fun and we got to do a cool little angle out of it, made it look different. I think maybe Darby put somebody through the announce table. That was a while ago, so we got to do something a little bit different. Doing commentary with those guys is a blast."

From the beginning, Punk has expressed is desire to help out the young roster of AEW. He explained how he wants to do that and what he prefaces when giving advice to talent.

"I think saying, 'I'm here to mentor and all that other stuff,' I think that can be a slippery slope because I don't think there's a one right way to do most of anything," Punk noted. "Through trial and error, I think I've found that just leading by example is possibly the best way to do stuff. When I was a kid, I would watch wrestling, and I would be like, 'Whoa, holy crap! Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels are great. I want to do what they do.' You kind of formulate the opinion in your head, well, those are guys that I want to emulate, and I want to wrestle like them. You want to be like them.

"A guy like Eddie Guerrero, same thing, and then you eventually wind up working with these guys and then you can pick their brains, but also, watch what they do, understand that there's a lot of hard work that goes into it. And then if you have the ability to ask them, 'Hey, why do you do this, or why don't you do this,' I think that's the best way to do it. I'm not there to watch the entire show and when people are done be like, 'Hey, you did this right. You did this wrong,' but I am there to help, and so if anybody wants the help, all's they got to do is ask.

"I always try to preface it with, 'Look, you can ask 10 people, you're going to get 10 different opinions. Mine is not correct. Just understand that and this is why I do certain things,' but also, I think just me going in the ring and doing what I do or just how I conduct myself backstage, doing commentary, whatever it is, I think a lot of people could just watch that and be like, okay, it's not 100% the only right way to do something, but that is the right way to do it."

Punk has taken influences from many of the greats in the industry. He spoke on what he still keeps in his promo and in-ring work, and named the legends that have helped him refine his style.

"It depends on what the situation is, but I think you can see fingerprints of a lot of different guys all over everything I do," Punk said. "Obviously, I'm known as a talker. Piper is a guy that I watched religiously, and I don't think the majority of Roddy Piper's greatness is realized based on stuff he did. I think stuff he did in California and in Georgia or for Jim Crockett Promotions, the stuff in Portland, I think that stuff is lightyears better than any of the stuff he did for WWF or anything like that, but his WWF stuff is so great too, but there's all kinds of hidden gems out there.

"I think Bret Hart is legit best there is, best there was, the best there ever will be. His stuff holds up. I was a Shawn Michaels fan when I was a kid because he did flashy stuff. He was cocky, but some of this stuff doesn't hold up the way Bret's does. Bret's is timeless. Brett is – it's corny, he's the excellence of execution, and he called himself that, but at the time, it was a cool nickname to me, but now, I look back and I realize, man, everything he does is fundamentally sound. He didn't misstep in the ring once.

"Everything he did, there was a reason for it. You watch his matches, and you're just like, oh, that's kind of how I want to build my stuff and what I want to model myself after and then same with a guy like Eddie Guerrero, just fundamentally sound, but then could do these amazing things. His understanding of Lucha and how to incorporate that into American style and make it make sense and blow your mind, it's tremendous. I worked with a lot of great guys. I got to work with Steamboat. I got to do stuff with Bret, Tracy Smothers, Chris Candido.

"Raven is a guy I don't think I've ever really mentioned him, and he needs the credit for being really the first guy that I worked with that would sit me down and literally be like, 'Okay, you're the sh*ts.' And he was a little harsh at times, and I would be like, man, alright. He helped me get a grasp of having stuff makes sense. He helped me a lot when I was just a dude doing matches, and it was more about, this is going to be like a New Japan Super Juniors match because they do cool moves. And he was a guy who was like, 'Just try to slow it down and have stuff make more sense.'"

If you use any quotes from this article, please credit AEW Unrestricted with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.