When CM Punk grabbed the microphone on June 27 in Las Vegas, he would send a huge ripple through a world where athleticism and theatrics collide.
Punk delivered a work of brilliance, ripping WWE and its owner Vince McMahon, threatening to leave with one of the company’s championship belts.
With John Cena beaten down and laying in the ring, Punk said: “You’re as good at kissing Vince McMahon’s ass as Hulk Hogan was.”
Score one for Punk, who continued: “Vince McMahon is a millionaire who should be a billionaire … he’s surrounded himself with gladhanding nonsensical yes men … And I’d like to think that this company would be better after Vince McMahon’s dead, but the fact is it’s going to get taken over by his idiotic daughter (Stephanie McMahon) and his doofus son-in-law (Triple H) and the rest of his stupid family.”
Punk talked about other wrestlers getting their faces put on collector cups and Wrestlemania posters and appearing on Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien.
It was classic. Pure Punk. Outstanding.
Punk (Phil Brooks in the real world) pushed himself to the top of a world where the ability to speak into a microphone is equally as important to swinging a folding chair or finding a cool name for your finishing move.
There was a buzz among wrestling fans. Was it scripted? Was Punk out of line?
All of a sudden, WWE — and the 32-year-old Punk — had their attention.
Strangely enough, while the heavily tattooed Punk was getting accolades — he says the attitude toward him by some of the company’s decision makers didn’t change.
“There are some people who think CM Punk would have been a mid-carder in the Attitude Era. They have this predetermined assessment of me,” said Punk. “I don’t know if it’s jealousy. I don’t have six-pack abs and I can’t benchpress 400 pounds. I can’t believe I have to step over people to get their attention. They have an antiquated way of seeing things.
“I’m trying to save this business.”
He says he’s not the only one getting a RAW deal.
Said Punk: “Beth (Phoenix) and Nattie (Neidhart) are two of the hottest things going right now. The Divas of Doom are awesome. They’ve got a female fanbase that we’ve categorically denied and I don’t know why.”
Punk quickly knew he had produced TV magic on that day in June.
“Backstage, everybody was throwing money at me, saying, ‘We’ll pay your fine.’ The biggest compliments have been from the guys in the back. But Vince knows money when he sees it.”
The ability to speak, to improvise, comes naturally, he says.
“When I talk, my design is to piss somebody off. I’m not just saying, ‘you’re bald,’ or ‘you’re ugly.’ Doing this is ingrained in my DNA. It’s 100% mine, all me. Half of the stuff I know off the top of my head, the other half I come up with when I’m out there. The best stuff is always the kneejerk reaction. It helps when you get somebody great to work with.
“I don’t know if it’s something you can teach. (As a kid) I didn’t walk around with a pretend plastic microphone, but I was never afraid of talking back. I used to get the crap beat out of me. But people would tire out from punching me in the face before I would stop talking back.”
Punk is coming to Ottawa’s Scotiabank Place for Monday’s huge RAW TV show, a two-hour soap opera which has lasted for 18 years and 953 episodes — watched by millions around the world.
Whether they’re cheering or booing, Punk just wants the fans to make noise.
“If they’re yelling that I suck, that doesn’t phase me,” he said. “They can yell at me, swear at me. That’s all good.
“It’s shades of grey now. But I do think the best stuff, the best wrestling, is the good guy vs. the bad guy. That’s what the business was built on.”
“If you’re really good at being a bad guy, people appreciate it. It creates a dichotomy where they may yell for me, not at me.”
So what’s left for Punk?
“I’m running out of goals. No. 1 with a bullet would be main eventing Wrestlemania. Winning a Royal Rumble would be a feather in my cap. And I’ve never won the U.S. title, so look out Dolph Ziggler.”
Count on Punk to put his stamp on RAW at Monday’s show. Seems like he always does.