AICN ON THE MAT: The Dean has a sit down with CM Punk on wrestling, comics, and taking on The Undertaker in this weekend’s WRESTLEMANIA 29!
@’s by CM PUNK!!!
Welcome, everyone, to the debut of AICN ON THE MAT! The Dean, here, excited to bring you another interview with one of the coolest and most compelling WWE Superstars of all time, CM Punk. Last time, Punk and I discussed his love of comics in anticipation of his foreword to the hardcover collection of Marvel’s AVENGERS VS X-MEN (check out the AICN COMICS Q&@ here ), but it’s all wrestling this time as he’s only days away from perhaps the greatest opportunity of his career: a chance to end The Undertaker’s phenomenal 20-0 streak at WRESTLEMANIA!
More than any other form of entertainment, professional wrestling struggles to convince a general audience to suspend their disbelief in an effort to engage them in the ring’s unfolding story. Its outcome being scripted seems to deter the average viewer in ways that movies, or other storytelling mediums don’t, and the athleticism needed to perform in the ring year round is often overlooked because of it. CM Punk isn’t the type to apologize for what he does, or present the business to you differently in an effort to sell it. He’s a pro wrestler in its most classic sense, and his passion for what he does, on display whenever he’s in the ring, is as great a promotion of the industry, and its legitimacy in the world of entertainment, as we may ever see.
Don’t miss Punk take on the Deadman this Sunday, April 7th at WRESTLEMANIA 29, and check out the interview below for thoughts from the Best in the World…
THE DEAN: Hey, Punk! How are you doing today?
CM PUNK: Good, I’m good, how are you?
DEAN: Great, thanks, and I’m really excited to talk to you today because we actually get to talk wrestling this time! It was all comics last time, and we’ll check in on what you’ve been reading in a bit, but first I want to ask you how much fun it is to run around with that urn? Are you having good time with that?
CM PUNK: I’m having a blast!
DEAN: Do you have it with you? Do you get to travel with it?
CM PUNK: Yeah, well I just FedEx’d it to my house earlier, so it should be arriving there soon.
DEAN: The urn was something I always wished they made a toy of as a kid, but I guess they thought it’d be a little morbid or weird to have kids playing with an urn.
CM PUNK: Nah, I don’t think that’d be weird at all.
DEAN: No? Well maybe we can get some new Undertaker merchandise soon, or it’ll be the CM Punk urn kids play with if you hang onto it much longer!
CM PUNK: Yeah, there you go.
DEAN: So we’ve got WRESTLEMANIA 29 right around the corner; how different is WRESTLEMANIA season for you guys than the rest of the year?
CM PUNK: Uhhh, well everything is definitely much bigger, you know? I’ve been in a few of these now, so I don’t know. My excitement has sort of diminished over the years, but I mean I’m on the road all year round, so I think the most exciting thing to me is that I’ll get to be in like the same bed for more than two days in a row…that’s pretty cool.
DEAN: I suppose that would be pretty cool, and what about the weather for this one? You’re going to be wrestling outdoors at MetLife in New Jersey, and last I saw I think it was going to be like 50 or lower that night, so does the cold weather affect you guys and how you’ll be planning the matches?
CM PUNK: Oh I’m sure the cold is going to totally affect me, but I actually, I’m hoping it gets like really cold, I wish it’d be like a blizzard. That would excite me.
DEAN: That would be kind of awesome, and with you being a Chicago guy that’s our weather; that’s when we’re at our best.
CM PUNK: Yeah, and like could you imagine me and ‘Taker just slugging it out like old NFL footage with games being played in a blizzard or something? That’d be awesome!
DEAN: Oh man, and for the replays you could put like the old NFL films music to it. That’d be great!
CM PUNK: Yeah!
DEAN: But yeah, you’re going up against the Undertaker for this one, and his WRESTLEMANIA streak (20-0) at this point seems almost more prestigious than the championship title. Would you agree with that?
CM PUNK: I think the streak is definitely, especially at WRESTLEMANIA, it’s bigger than the title, you know? They’ve built it up so much, they’ve made such a story out of “who’s going to beat the streak?” and all that so, yeah, it’s definitely bigger than the title at this point.
DEAN: Yeah, only one guy is going to be able to claim that, right? So it definitely seems like a bigger deal, or a bigger prize right now.
CM PUNK: Exactly.
DEAN: I love this pairing, too. You and The Undertaker, who you guys are, it’s such a fun conflict because it’s like…I don’t know, it’s like Jack Burton going up against Lo Pan - this dark magic, supernatural Deadman going up against you, the snarky, quick-witted sort of guy.
CM PUNK: I like that analogy so much.
DEAN: Yeah? Awesome, I’m glad you agree!
CM PUNK: Yeah, and we know what happened when Jack Burton went up against Lo Pan…
DEAN: We do! Things would have to really escalate in the match, but how great would it be if the Undertaker got so mad that he threw a knife at you but you caught it? Easily the greatest WrestleMania moment of all time, right there.
CM PUNK: I think it might be, I think that’s a great idea.
DEAN: Well speaking of the title , you had an incredible 434 day run with it that was ended by The Rock who brought in a new belt. What are your thoughts both on the design, and then of The Rock being the guy to bring a new belt in?
CM PUNK: You know it is what it is. I mean, I’m the guy that said we needed a new title and got that thing made, but then it was sitting on the shelf for a couple of years. So obviously I wasn’t the one that got to debut it, but you know I’m just proud of the fact that I facilitated changing the spinner title, even if it was just behind the scenes.
DEAN: Well now the guy who is going for the title is John Cena, and the two of you have an incredible chemistry in the ring and this really interesting dichotomy that fans including myself just love. Do you think the strong emotional response that your matches with him invoke is a result of your contrasting personalities and styles, or is this more the clashing of eras as people expect you’re sort of changing the face of the WWE a bit?
CM PUNK: I don’t know that anybody expects me to start a new era, I just think a lot of people get tired of watching the same ol’ thing, you know? John Cena has been on top for a very, very long time and even when I was champ he was still on top, you know like he always main evented all the Pay-Per-Views and stuff like that, so…when it comes to me and John Cena I just think that me and him have tremendous chemistry, and when you put us in the ring it’s just always going to draw interest.
DEAN: A lot of people complain that the PG rating and label is an inhibiting factor on the WWE overall these days. Do you put any stock into the TV rating or think it has any impact on the quality of shows?
CM PUNK: I don’t think PG is a bad thing at all, you know? The wrestling I watched as a kid was PG, you know what I mean? I think people think that if it was…I don’t even know what the hell the next rating up is, but I mean if we were allowed to, or if all we did was show boobs and swear all the time it doesn’t make the product any better, you know it doesn’t make it “edgy.” It’s just a crutch, and an excuse for fans that aren’t happy with what they’re watching, and I don’t know, maybe they need to go watch Cinemax or something like that.
DEAN: (laughs) what about you? Where do you go from here? You’ve accomplished a lot in your time in the WWE, ROH, everywhere else, so with your recent title reign and then if you beat The Undertaker at WresltleMania, what’s left for you to accomplish?
CM PUNK: Nothing…(laughs) I don’t know what’s left, I really don’t.
DEAN: So you’re done. You beat The Undertaker, 20-1, and you’re done?
CM PUNK: Maybe…I just…yeah, I don’t know.
DEAN: Well while you are here, is there anything you try to consciously do to attract new viewers to wrestling? I mean you’re a comic guy, and like comics, wrestling has this immature stigma to it that’s hard for a lot of people to get past, so is there anything you do to try and draw people in?
CM PUNK: I just try to make it exciting. People come in with their own idea of what the WWE or what pro wrestling is, and I like to try and maybe change their mind on certain things.
DEAN: You’re labeled differently these days too as a “Sports Entertainer,” and not a pro wrestler. Do you think that’s an accurate title? Does describe what you do?
CM PUNK: No. I’m a pro wrestler.
DEAN: What’s the difference between the two?
CM PUNK: Umm…old-school values, and an attachment, or a belief in…what the business is, and what it should be.
DEAN: So like you said, you’re not out there filming something for Cinemax you’re out there to wrestle.
CM PUNK: Yeah, and you know I think a lot of people will be confused like calling certain people wrestlers and certain people entertainers, but you know you put on a pair of tights, and boots, and then you go step into the ring that doesn’t necessarily make you a wrestler, you know? And it’s not that that word ‘entertainment’ is bad, or that they’re trying to shy away from wrestling - wrestling is entertainment, there’s nothing wrong with that. But to me, I mean, it’s all entertainment, and what I do as part of that is go out there and wrestle.
DEAN: Well before we wrap up I said I’d check in on what you were reading these days, so what comics have you been into lately?
CM PUNK: I’m reading the new HIT GIRL stuff that just came out in trade, and I’ve been reading all the new Valiant stuff that’s been coming out via trade. That’s most of what I’ve been into lately.
DEAN: Are you liking what you’ve read so far of the new Valiant?
CM PUNK: Yeah, but uhhh…I mean I like it, they’ve got a couple of different spins on the old stuff but I just can’t help but feel like, well why don’t I just go back and read all of the old Valiant books that I have, you know what I mean? But it’s cool to see them back and redoing things for a new generation.
DEAN: I know what you mean, but they’re really starting to grow now, and take the stories in a different direction, so it’s only been getting better. But before I let you go, I’m sure your match with ‘Taker is going to be creating a lot of those classic WrestleMania moments that we never forget, but what’s one memory or one ‘Mania moment that’s your favorite?
CM PUNK: Ohhh, jeez…there’s just a million of ‘em, you know? I think there’s probably twenty to twenty-five moments that are bigger than anything I’ve ever done at WrestleMania thus far. But, ummm…Bret Hart and Stone Cold. I mean just that whole story leading up to it, that whole match and the way it ended…I guess it doesn’t get much better than that for me.
DEAN: Definitely hard to top that. Well alright, it was a pleasure, man, and I can’t wait to see what you guys have in store for us on the 7th, and if The Undertaker does wind up throwing I knife at you, I really hope you catch it.
CM PUNK: Thank you!
DEAN: Be sure to check out WRESTLEMANIA 29 this Sunday for a chance to witness history, as CM Punk attempts to end the 20-0 dominance of WWE Phenom, The Undertaker! Head on over to wwe.com for more, and keep checking back for more superstar interviews leading up to the granddaddy of ‘em all right here, with AICN ON THE MAT!
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