CM Punk is on the cover of “WWE Magazine’s” October issue, which features an “explosive, controversial” interview with the Second City Saint. The self-proclaimed “Voice of the Voiceless” was given another soapbox to voice his concerns with WWE’s brain trust, his fellow wrestlers who deserve a better shot, and whether anything will change following his return to the sports entertainment organization. Highlights from the interview are as follows:In your estimation, what do you feel is wrong with WWE right now, and what would you do to change it?
What’s wrong with WWE right now is that there isn’t enough youth. Most of the ideas are old. They worked in The Attitude Era or in the ’80’s—and I’m not necessarily saying that they’re bad or they’re wrong —but they need updating, they need tweaking. There needs to be some young minds spinning the webs, so to speak. I’m sick of seeing people who are excellent wrestlers get passed over for people who have abs or who were good second-string linemen in a European football league. I think there are a lot of people who, on their own terms, have made their own personas and perfected their craft simply out of love for what they do. They’re not trying to be bodybuilders or footballs players who fail miserably and then call their uncle or their dad and say, “Hey, I’ll give that wrestling thing a shot because I suck at everything else.”
Why do you think it’s such a strike against guys who—like yourself—are fans but aren’t from a sports or bodybuilding background?
Now, this is complete speculation. I can’t even tell you what somebody else is thinking. I can only say what I think works. And I’m not going to be right 100 percent of the time just like they’re not going to be. Somewhere along the way I think we lost the Midas touch. This whole thing became uncool. I think the people who love it aren’t going to go do something else if they get fired. Like Colt Cabana. He’s a perfect example. He is a wrestler. If he gets hired and it doesn’t work out, he’s wrestling somewhere else the next day. He’s not trying to shoehorn himself into an accounting job. He’s a wrestler. He’s always going to be there. So I just think if you love wrestling sometimes—maybe-you’re punished. You’re placed last in line. The attitude is: You’re always going to be here, maybe we can use you later if we need you, but right now we’re going to use this guy because he was good at college football, but he didn’t quite make it in the NFL.
Another one of your gripes is about how the WWE Championship looks. How would you redesign the title? What is the definitive look of that particular championship for you?
Oh God. How long’s this interview? Honestly, I think old Dwayne used to have a cute little blue cow on his title or something. Then, of course, Stone Cold had the Smoking Skull Title. I don’t know. I think I could Straight Edge the hell out of that thing. A couple of “X”s might make it look good. Make it look like a title should look like, and not make it look like some sort of weird, rapper bling. I feel the definitive look, though, is what I like to call “Bret Hart’s Title.” I think everyone likes to call it the “Winged Eagle Title.” That’s a little redundant. I’m pretty sure most eagles have wings. That’s the one that always sticks out in my mind.
This anger with your job has been festering for a while. Was there one moment backstage when you felt you’d had enough?
I can name one off the top of my head. How about main-eventing a pay-per-view as the World Heavyweight Champion against Undertaker and then, a few months later, being in a dark match against R-Truth at WWE TLC? That’s pretty ignorant in my mind. This is the problem. We do this too many times to too many Superstars. It’s a startstop kind of thing. The company likes to spotlight certain people. Like, “This week, Kofi’s cool,” and then, the next week, “We changed out minds we like Dolph this week.” It flip-flops back and forth ad nauseam, and the next thing you know, the people couldn’t give a crap about either guy.
When did the powers that be really begin to take your leaving WWE seriously?
I told them probably a year out. They would say, “Hey, how about we talk about your contract?” And I would just say, “No, I don’t really feel like it.” And they would say, “Okay, back off. Punk’s crabby and temperamental. We’ll get him next week.” And the next week it would be, “Hey, let’s talk about it.” And then maybe eight or ten months out, it was, “Hey, I really want to sit down. We really need to sign you a new deal.” And that’s when I straight up said, “No, I’m not interested.”
Take us back to your title match at WWE Money In The Bank. What did you do differently that day knowing that could have been your last day on the job?
I don’t think I did anything different that day. I’m a man of my word. I wasn’t going to skip out on my contract earlier. I was going to let it run out. These are the terms I agreed to and the dates I agreed to do, and I was definitely going to finish up. But I think I talked so much about everything and everybody that all eyes were on me and it created a high pressure situation. Thankfully, I thrive very well in those situations. I’d say I pulled it off. All this stuff I talk about, about being the best in the world, I certainly proved it that night. The match went near the 35-minute mark. But I wrestled for 93-minutes one time back in 2002 or 2003 in a Two-Out-Of-Three-Falls Match.
You mentioned on the Bill Simmons BS Report podcast that you had made the decision to come back and resign at WWE Money In The Bank. Do you think your decision was at all clouded a little bit too much by all the emotion going on that day?
I can definitely put it aside. I can be a robot if I need to be. Resigning was something that was on my mind day in and day out whether I was at the gym or sleeping. I was dreaming about it, I was really trying to figure out what the best decision was for me and my future. Call me crazy, but I was also trying to figure out what was the best decision for the company as a whole. I love what we do. I’m not going to get along with everybody I work with. I’m certainly not going to agree with everything all the time, but at the end of the day, I want everybody voice to be heard. I want this place to succeed. So I had to weigh my options.
Another thing we noticed is that you used the “W” word a lot in your tirades these last weeks. how much do you dislike saying “sports-entertainment”?
I don’t hate it as much as you would think, but I really do think It’s ridiculous when you’re not allowed to say “wrestling.” At the end of the day, that’s what goes on in that ring. That ring is our stage. What we do on that stage is we wrestle. I’m not playing grab-ass. I’m out there fighting to win. Wins and losses mean something. Wrestling happens to be damn entertaining.
So is it weird to call yourself a “Superstar” as opposed to a wrestler?
I don’t think it’s weird. I think we’re all Superstars. Absolutely. I don’t think there’s anybody else who can be called that. Would you call Brad Pitt a Superstar? Do I think Brad Pitt can do what we do? Absolutely not! Brad Pitt gets scripts and lines to study months ahead of time and he has a very controlled setting in which he looks the best he possible can. He has makeup on, there’s lighting, there’s people doing the sound and everything. We go out there on live TV every Monday night and kill it. That’s where the entertainment part comes in. It’s more entertaining then a Brad Pitt movie. There are no retakes, you know? There’s no Take 1, Take 2—”I screwed that up, let me do it again.” If we screw up, we screw up. That’s the entertaining part.
One thing you did change is your entrance music, to Living Colour’s “Cult Of Personality.” Did you consider anything else?
No, that was the one. It was a throwback to my Indie days, but it also just fit. I have tremendous guts, I’d like to say, and it was just a gut feeling that this was the right thing to do, to change my music now. Did I like my old song? Absolutely. Was it recognizable? Sure, I had it for five years. Was it time for a change? Was it a risky thing? Yes and yes. But ultimately, I think it was the right move. I haven’t been able to get the song out of my head since last Monday. It’s a song that came out in 1989, when I was on my little league team, and now it just jumped into the iTunes Top 200. That’s powerful. That should speak volumes to the WWE management. They should say, “Holy crap, this kid has the power to do something like that. Let’s see what else he can do.”
What’s really different now that you’re back? What are we really going to see that’s not status quo?
I don’t want to ruin any surprises, but I will tell you that when the Ramones were voted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, there was one surviving member of the original lineup left alive, and it was Marky. Marky originally was completely being in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. This is, after all, the establishment that shunned the entire band for it’s entire career, and he wanted nothing to do with it. He was extremely adamant that, “No, you don’t get the privilege of having the Ramones in your little club.” My good friend, Lars Frederickson [of the band Rancid], got on the phone and said, “Marky listen to me. You almost have a responsibility to the underground to accept this award and be in the Hall of Fame to show that you are as big as the Rolling Stones, you are as big as the Beatles, you’re as good as Led Zeppelin, all these mainstream bands that the Ramones maybe never got credit on the same level as.” And that’s kind of how I feel about WWE right now. I’m the guy who, for all intents and purposes, never should have even made it to WWE. Then I had roadblock after roadblock thrown in my way. Not only did I get past those roadblocks, It did it while flipping off the people who put up those roadblocks. I feel I have a responsibility to the younger wrestlers on the roster, the ones that aren’t signed yet, and the future of wrestling as a whole, to help make this place better, and to change this place. I certainly can’t change it by sitting on my couch in Chicago.