The following are several excerpts from an interview that GQ.com held with CM Punk:
GQ: But when a story comes along that captures people’s imagination, like what you’re doing now, it does become relevant. How does that not happen more often?
C.M. Punk: That is a fantastic question. I don’t have the answer. If it happened more often, it wouldn’t be as special, right? I hear a lot of people compare what I did three weeks ago to Stone Cold Steve Austin. Everyone’s just waiting for that next polarizing character. I think that’s why this worked. I’ve been saying I’m that guy for five years. Different people are afforded different opportunities. I’ve been given some awesome opportunities, and I feel that I’ve always knocked them out of the park. But I’ve always been scaled back after that. This time, the genesis of it is that I’m leaving. I’m done. I’m tired. “What are they going to do, fire me?” That’s been my attitude for months and months now. That finally resonated through the television screen. And that’s something that everyone in this economic world can 100% relate to.
GQ: Is that parallel to Austin why you wore a Stone Cold Steve Austin T-shirt when you were delivering that promo?
C.M. Punk: I do a lot of weird little things like that because people talk about it. I don’t think it’s any secret; I think the biggest match any wrestling company can do right now is C.M. Punk vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin. I’ve thought that since I was 15. I’m straight edge. I don’t drink. I don’t do drugs. I don’t smoke. And that is the perfect protagonist or antagonist to Stone Cold Steve Austin, depending on how you want to spin it. It writes itself. You would have to try really, really hard to fuck that one up. The idea of being on television is to wear your T-shirt so people see it and maybe buy it. I had gone out previously in the night and wrestled. You throw your T-shirt on the ground, and I don’t know what the hell happens to it after that. I came to the back, and I was looking for another T-shirt. I sent somebody to go and get one, and they came back with a XXL. I was like, “I’m going to be swimming in this thing.” And it’s always creepy when you’re wearing wrestling trunks with a shirt because it doesn’t look like you’re wearing any pants. I had a Stone Cold Steve Austin shirt in my bag, and it fit me. I chuckled to myself and put it on. Am I planting seeds? I don’t know. I can’t guarantee to anybody that that match is going to happen. Do I want it to happen? Absolutely.
GQ: When somebody like you comes from the indies, how do you even get a shot in the company at all?
C.M. Punk: I’m a very goal-oriented person. In 2004, I was working for [independent wrestling company] Ring of Honor. I didn’t create the place, but I’m proud to say I’m one of the guys that made it a hell of a place to work, for young guys to learn. We did a lot of awesome stuff there, and I helped out. And I was really bored. I’d done everything: Been to Japan, been to Puerto Rico, wrestled in Europe. Every company that I was ever in, I’d become their champion. And I have a very strong bond to the old school. I’m friends with a lot of legendary wrestlers that I respect, like Harley Race. I look at what they did, and what they did is so drastically different to what an independent wrestler did in 2004. Me and my friend Colt Cabana were working four days a week, which is insane and unheard of. But then you look at guys like Ricky Steamboat and Ric Flair, who wrestled every day of the week, twice on Saturday, and twice on Sunday. I craved that. I always said that I was born 20 years late; I would’ve thrived in the territory days. But I was bored. I needed something new. I set the bar high: Working with the WWE. I figured out that if I went to work there then, they’d say I’m not big enough, so I kicked my own ass and got into mega-shape. I ordered my own gear. They contacted me, and I said, “Give me three months to get into shape, so when I go there, you can’t say no.” That’s what I did. In any situation, the cream rises to the top. I didn’t have an easy go of it; they hired me and sent me into their developmental system. But I’ve always worked my ass off. I’m never satisfied. It’s like that now; that’s what keeps driving me. And I think that’s how I worked here, because I don’t take no for an answer.
GQ: What are some of your lowest moments in the company?
C.M. Punk: I’m not Superman. Eventually, the grind gets to you. If you’re away from your friends, you’re not traveling with anyone you like, and you’re doing stuff that doesn’t creatively stimulate you, that’s when it becomes a job. Sometimes, I think it’s easy to see who’s talented and what works. Oftentimes, they go the other way, and that’s frustrating. I was really bummed when Cabana got fired. I didn’t feel like it was my fault, but maybe there was something that I could’ve or should’ve done to prevent it. He’s a super-talented guy. I’m brutally honest; he knows that. I can look at him and be like, “Maybe trim up, work out harder, do more cardio.” But when he’s in the ring, he’s the most entertaining guy. A company slogan is “We put smiles on people’s faces.” That’s what that guy does, and he does it with his wrestling style. It’s amazing. I was so bummed when he got fired because I want the best for my friends. If I could somehow trade places with him, I probably would, just so he could experience what I have. He deserves it. My buddy Luke Gallows got fired; that sucked. I was with the company when Chris Benoit’s murder/suicide went down; that was a pretty fucking low point in everyone’s life. I still can’t explain that one. A lot of people don’t like to talk about it. It still blows my mind.
Professionally, what bums me out is not feeling like they ever really got behind me. My fan base, how I became popular, was really despite them. It was very organic. Instead of giving me the ball and letting me run with it, they would give me the ball to keep it warm for somebody else. I always just want to be the guy.
You can read the rest of the interview here.