On Sunday night and on his home turf, C.M. Punk returned to the WWE ring for the first time in months. This dramatic resurfacing during a pay-per-view event at Allstate Arena had been planned for some time.
Not as deeply premeditated: The Chicago native’s wardrobe and spontaneous Stanley Cup Final prediction.
Punk wore boots and tights emblazoned with a Blackhawks crossed-tomahawk logo that included a subtle personal touch. Just before his match with Chris Jericho ended, Punk looked at a camera and shouted “Blackhawks in seven!”
So a day after demonstrating his puck love for the world, the WWE star talked with the Tribune about the Hawks, the Cup and his lifelong affection for hockey.
Q: How long had the idea been percolating to get the Blackhawks gear together?
A: Well, I’m not superstitious about anything in my life — except for playoff hockey. I get really kind of sketchy and weird about it. I don’t like talking about it, I don’t like making predictions. But I knew I wanted to make the gear to support my team, that was the basis of it.
I was at Game 7 against Detroit, when we won in overtime. I was at Game 5, when we won in overtime against the Kings. So it was in the back of my mind the whole time. I didn’t want to commission the gear too early to kind of jinx them. It was always in the back of my mind.
Q: Where does one go to get Blackhawks wrestling gear?
A: We have three lovely seamstresses that actually work full time with the company. I go to one in particular. I kick around ideas with her, tell her what I want, we come up with it.
Q: Did you design it or did she have the logos in mind?
A: The logo is actually a little bit of a cross between the Blackhawks logo and my logo. If you look really closely at the top of the two tomahawks, it’s a little fist with an ‘X’ on it. It was actually her idea. She came up with that.
Q: How far back does your Blackhawks allegiance go? To when you were a kid?
A: Yeah, just basically because I grew up in Chicago, and I always just loved hockey. Because it was, to me, more difficult and tougher than any other sport.
I remember being in eighth grade, everybody else in my class was rooting for the Penguins in ’92 (in the Stanley Cup Final), and I was the only local kid rooting for the Blackhawks. I thought that was ridiculous.
Q: Why? Because Mario Lemieux was on the Penguins and all that?
A: Yeah, if you remember back then, it was trendy to like the Penguins. So like all the cool kids like the Penguins because of (Jaromir) Jagr and Lemieux.
Q: What are some of your favorite Hawks memories or games?
A: I didn’t go to a whole bunch when I was a kid. I remember seeing them play at Chicago Stadium, so I was fortunate enough to see them play in that building. And I’m fortunate enough to have been at the triple-overtime game (against the Bruins), Game 7 against Detroit, Game 5 against the Kings, most recently. Those were all really, really, really good hockey games.
Q: You get to know any of the guys on the team at all?
A: I’m not one to try to parlay whatever fame I have to try to get tickets or hang out or anything. I can kind of be low-profile sometimes when I want to be.
Q: You did ‘Shoot The Puck,’ though, a little while back, right?
A: I did ‘Shoot The Puck.’ Maybe a little over a year ago.
Q: Was that terrifying or kind of fun?
A: No, that was a blast. It was a blast. I’m not gonna claim to be Sidney Crosby or anything like that. I’ve been on the ice before. My skating is probably worse than my basketball slam dunk, if that paints a picture for you.
Q: What’s stood out to you about the experience of being at the United Center for these games lately?
A: I love the atmosphere. I’ve hugged and high-fived more strangers in the past three weeks than I have in my entire life. The camaraderie of the fans, how loud the UC gets, the national anthem is always a great moment, it’s a lot of free overtime hockey. Honestly, it sounds corny when you say something is ‘magical,’ but it’s been magical.
Q: And the ‘Blackhawks in 7’ prediction?
A: That flew right out. That was nothing that was planned. It was something I said at the last minute.
Q: That’s just the belief you have in these guys?
A: I didn’t think we were going to get swept, and I certainly didn’t think we were going to sweep Boston or anything like that. It would have been nice to head to Boston for tonight 2-0, but I even thought that was a little unrealistic, because they’re such a tough team. I think if you’re a hockey fan, your gut feeling on this one is it’s going seven.