A man with 11 championships under his belt, CM Punk is a major star to World Wrestling Entertainment fans. Still, it’s not easy being famous: The public isn’t always polite, just like the man who interrupted his conversation to take pictures of him on the treadmill.
What: John Cena, Randy Orton, CM Punk, Chris Jericho, the Miz, the Big Show and Mark Henry are among the WWE stars appearing.
When: 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23.
Where: U.S. Airways Center, 201 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix.
Details: 602-379-7800, ticketmaster.com.
Punk follows the straight-edge lifestyle, meaning he stays away from alcohol and recreational drugs. He talks about being straight edge and the WWE life in a phone call from a Texas gym.
Question: What is it like being a WWE star?
Answer: You know, I really can’t compare it to anything else. It’s probably the busiest job in the world.
Q: Do you get much down time?
A: I was home for six days a week before Christmas. That was like the first time in 10 years that happened. I kind of went crazy after three days. It’s a bit of a culture shock.
Q: WWE has a huge international following. Do you have a favorite place to visit?
A: I love going to Japan. They treat pro wrestling like it’s baseball over there. They have amazing fans. They’re very respectful.
Q: Are American fans not respectful?
A: It’s just a lack of “excuse me” and “please” and “thank you.” I’m a pretty approachable guy, but I’ve had my headphones taken off my head in the gym, people poking me in the back like I’m a farm animal. It’s a part of the game.
Q: With so many young fans, you must find yourself being a role model.
A: Absolutely. I’m the straight-edge guy. I’m a damn good guy to look up to. But I approach it the way Charles Barkley approached it. I’m not a role model. Everybody should choose their own path in life. I don’t get preachy with the straight-edge stuff.
Q: Do people put you on a pedestal because of it?
A: I find myself being a target as opposed to being put on a pedestal. I get criticized a lot. There are people who are skeptical about it or scared by it or intimidated by it.
Q: Do you mind that a personal choice like that has become part of your public persona?
A: No, because it’s who I am. People say, “When did you decide to be straight edge?” I was born this way. It’s nothing I really decided (pause) and, right now, while I’m talking, on the treadmill and doing an interview, there’s a guy standing over here, taking pictures … (He politely asks the guy to stop, which doesn’t seem to go well). All right, and now he just flipped me off, and I’m the (expletive). See what I mean? (sighing) … Anyway, I don’t think I have a persona per se. I’m not trying to be something I’m not.
Q: What’s the biggest misconception about sports entertainers?
A: That we’re not athletes. That goes hand in hand with it. That’s what we do. I don’t know anybody who works harder than we do. We don’t have time off. We don’t have a season off. These are some of the toughest people I’ve known in my entire life.
Q: Can you ever skip training?
A: I always feel better if I get in the gym and do something. I do various things: Weights, running, jiu-jitsu, kick-boxing, yoga. I’m in underwear every night; you have to go the gym.
Q: Because of the physical aspect, it’s a job with a definite window. Does that worry you?
A: Sure. I don’t want to be broke. But they always say it’s not about how much money you make. It’s about how much money you save.
Q: What about acting? So many WWE people go into the movies.
A: That’s not up to me, but it’s nothing I’m actively pursuing. I never say never to anything, but it’s nothing I’m looking to actively do.
Q: You are really active on social media. Do you enjoy it?
A: Twitter is hilarious. It’s like the whole world having your phone number. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. You get to chat with people that you normally don’t get to chat with, maybe touch some of the fans who interact with you.
Q: Your real name is Philip. Does anyone still call you that?
A: Well, you just did.