Ricky Starks Comments On His Backstage Relationship With CM Punk

CM Punk has had quite the impact on AEW both on-screen and off-screen since debuting with the company last September after more than seven years away from the business, and one of the ways he's changed things is in his mentorship of younger wrestlers in the locker room.

In an exclusive interview with Wrestling Inc., current AEW star and FTW Champion Ricky Starks commented on his backstage relationship with the current AEW World Champion.

"Punk is leadership in the truest form," Starks said. "I've asked him countless times about advice and things like that backstage and he's always willing and open to it. And so I do miss him. I feel his absence, for sure, in the locker room. I'm counting the days until he makes his return ... Punk has gone through multiple phases. He was around for that indie bit, but then he was around when WWE was bringing in indie guys, and he was in that system, and now he is on the other side of what wrestling is, you know, past that."

The Chicago native has not been at AEW shows recently, as Punk is dealing with an injury that required surgery, forcing him to be out of action for an extended period of time. Instead of forcing Punk to vacate the title, AEW held a tournament to determine the Interim AEW World Championship that culminated at AEW X NJPW Forbidden Door, when AEW's Jon Moxley took on NJPW's Hiroshi Tanahashi in the main event of the show. Moxley walked away with the title and has already successfully defended it against the House of Black's Brody King successfully on the July 6th edition of "AEW Dynamite."

Thus far, Starks has only found AEW championship success in the FTW Title, which was originally gifted by Taz to Brian Cage during the early stages of the formation of Team Taz. Starks defeated Cage for the title on the July 14th, 2021 edition of "Dynamite," sending Cage out of the group in the process. Starks would later defend the belt against Cage in what was, as of this writing, Cage's last match with AEW, though he has recently appeared as part of Tony Khan's Ring of Honor.

Team Taz entered a feud with Punk in Punk's first couple of months with the company, with Punk wrestling Hobbs in Punk's second match back. However, the feud never ended up going anywhere, which meant Starks never got to go one-on-one with Punk.

"That seems to be the pattern of my career, you just fall through the cracks with certain opportunities," Starks said. "Obviously, Punk had the match against Hobbs, you know, then he went right to having issues with MJF, I believe. So it was a matter of timing and that's no fault of him or me or anyone, really ... Once he comes back and he's fully recovered, I think the day that me and Punk actually have a match, we'll set the world on fire."

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