If you grew up watching professional wrestling like I did, then you’re well aware that Wrestlemania 28 is taking place this weekend at Sun Life Stadium — home of the Miami Dolphins.
One of the headline matches involves WWE champion CM Punk against Chris Jericho. The AFC East blog caught up with the world champ — yes, we’re well connected that way — to get his take on various topics.
Punk shares his thoughts on Wrestlemania, potentially walking to the Octagon in Brazil with UFC middleweight Chael Sonnen, and Dolphins stud center Mike Pouncey forming a tag team with his twin brother, Maurkice.
CM Punk, a year ago at this time, considering your contract situation with WWE, did you think you would be in this spot, defending the world title at Wrestlemania 28?
CM Punk: No, because I was leaving. At Wrestlemania last year — and I always say I thrive in high-pressure situations — my job was to steal the show and prove to everybody how awesome I was and what an amazing talent they were losing. I went out there with Randy [Orton] and we put on, in my opinion, the best match on the show of pure wrestling. I wasn’t concerned about what I was doing next year. I was leaving in my mind. I didn’t think I would still be here or holding the title.
At what point did that mentality shift? Did the pen have to hit the paper for you to finally realize you were staying in WWE?
Punk: Yes, absolutely. I didn’t re-sign until middle of July, I think. It was actually the day of [the Money in the Bank Pay Per View], I believe. It was after the show even started. So it was down to the wire.
You mentioned Chris Jericho has never been “The Man” like you’ve been. Can you elaborate? Jericho has held world titles in the past.
Punk: Sure, but there’s always, I think, somebody that has overshadowed him. I guess an argument can be made that John Cena is still “The Man.” But the numbers don’t lie with merchandising, ratings and everything else. We’re not trying to hotshot the title around or play hot potato with it. We’re giving people a champion they can believe in. And Jericho was never really that guy. He was never really, I guess, the ambassador John Cena has been and that I’ve been lately. That’s what I meant by that.
Mixed Martial Arts has become a big part of your life. Has that altered your style of wrestling at all or helped with in-ring ability?
Punk: Yes and no. It’s hard to try to translate a lot of stuff. I prefer to throw kicks and elbows instead of punches, but that was always a part of me. But I’ve always been a fan, so I don’t know if that stems from MMA. But I try to keep my pro wrestling, pro wrestling.
UFC No. 1 contender Chael Sonnen is a good friend of yours. What’s your prediction for his upcoming title fight against Anderson Silva?
Punk: Ah man, that’s a rough fight. I think the reason Chael and I are good friends is because we are both extremely honest. He shocked the world the last time when he took it to Anderson. And then it comes out that Anderson has an injury. I think there’s as many mind games in MMA as there is in pro wrestling. So I don’t know if this is true. I don’t know if Anderson had a broken rib, and I don’t know if that’s why Chael looked so good against him. But I know Chael is confident. I know Chael is the best 185-pound wrestler in the UFC. He may be the best wrestler [overall] in the UFC. His takedown is second-to-none, and that’s Anderson’s weakness. They match up on paper almost beautifully. Chael has to take him down, and he has to grind it out. Chael has to beat Anderson up, and he did that the last fight. Chael just has to work on finishing him. Obviously, I’m in Chael’s corner. I would love to be down there in Brazil, literally, in Chael’s corner. Because that just seems like my kind of environment, you know. I’d love to start a riot with my homeboy.
You beat me to it. I was going to ask if you’d put serious thought into walking to the Octagon with Chael in Brazil after you almost did in your hometown of Chicago?
Punk: I just got to look at the schedule. Because my Saturdays are filled with wrestling, chances are I’m not going to be able to be there. But I will be there in spirit.
Last question: Dolphins center Mike Pouncey plays here in Miami and has a twin brother, Maurkice, of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Any potential for them as a twin, WWE tag team?
Punk: Well, we have the Bella twins, and the Bellas look a lot better than the Pounceys. But, you know what, I’m always for celebrity involvement. If they want to get in the ring, clearly they’re good athletes. I’d love to see a twin tag team. That would be something. That would be cool.