The Super Bowl of pro wrestling is Sunday, and one of the Windy City’s own will occupy a huge part of the spotlight. Chicago native CM Punk will take on The Undertaker at Wrestlemania, set for 7 p.m. Sunday on pay-per-view; the event takes place at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Both competitors are no stranger to streaks. Punk held the WWE championship for 434 days, and The Undertaker is 20-0 at Wrestlemania. Punk spoke to RedEye about his records, passionate fans and “the only thing that matters” to him.
You have a history with the Undertaker. You had a feud with him for the World Heavyweight Championship and have had a mixed bag of results, so what makes you think you’re going to come out on top at Wrestlemania?
CM Punk: I’m so much better than I was back then. Wiser. Smarter. And I’ve been doing this every day for the past God knows how long. Undertaker’s been off for over a year. And on top of that I’ve got the [Undertaker’s] urn.
How important is it to you for your match against the Undertaker be touted as the main event of Wrestlemania?
CM Punk: I think it’s the only thing that matters to me, you know? I think I’ll go out there and make it unfollowable, you know, make people talk about it the next day.
You held the WWE championship for 434 days, a record in the modern era (past 25 years). How did you feel when your streak came to an end?
CM Punk: Hey, records and streaks are made to be broken. I look forward to the next guy who breaks the 434-day streak to beat my record. Just like I’ll beat the Undertaker’s record.
Did you hear about the reaction on the Internet when you lost? Did you see that video that went viral, of that guy who was really upset at you losing?
CM Punk: I never bothered to watch it. Everybody sent it to me, and [we] were laughing, but I never set eyes on it.
How do you feel when you hear fans expressing that sort of sentiment about you?
CM Punk: That’s nuts, that’s crazy. That’s dedication and passion to being a fan. So it’s always interesting to hear those stories.
Finally, I understand you’re a comic book reader and have sung the praises of Jason Aaron’s “Scalped” from Vertigo. Is there anything you feel others should read?
CM Punk: I think the best thing coming out currently, that I’m reading, is probably “Locke and Key.” It’s got a horror overtone to it and it’s so well-written. It’s characters are nicely fleshed out; it’s very good.
To navigate the world of high school, some teenagers start rock ’n’ roll bands. Others build wrestling rings in their backyards and have throw-downs with dreams of sports entertainment glory. CM Punk fell in the latter category.
“There was no manual when I was a kid to deal with my parents or high school or bullies or whatever, so a lot of the time you figure it out yourself and you do it yourself,” said Punk.
Punk, a 34-year-old Chicago native, wasn’t your standard bloody backyard brawler, either. “My mindset on everything – everything I do is like punk rock – is do it yourself,” Punk said. “I wasn’t jumping off my roof, I was trying to technically wrestle like (wrestling legend) Bret Hart in a backyard.”
Over the years, Punk has gone from backyards to the biggest show of them all: on Sunday, April 7, he’ll compete at WrestleMania 29 at East Rutherford’s MetLife Stadium.