Monday, August 1, 2011

From the Vault: Part 2 of my 2002 interview with WWE Champion, C.M. Punk

Here is part two of my interview with C.M. Punk from 2002. Hard to believe this interview is nine years old! Myself and Al from conducted this interview. Back in June, I posted part one.  This is a very honest and revealing interview. Hope you enjoy this blast from the past!

CM Punk Interview Part 2

AL: You and Ace are still close. If there are problems between you and Danny, can I make a jump ... are things still cool with Danny and Ace?

PUNK: As far as I know, business is business. I saw Danny at the MAW show in Chicago. I said hello and goodbye to him, like I normally would. It's no big deal. I think everything with them is fine.

PUNK: I've got a messed-up left knee. I don't know exactly what's wrong with it, because I'm stubborn and I never really go to the doctor. I've got a dislocated AC joint in my left shoulder, which always winds up hurting at some point in most of my matches. That needs surgery to be corrected, which is something I'm sort of looking into right now. I've really procrastinated about it. I've had a messed-up lower back that I've got to go to the chiropractor for a lot. Just the normal wear and tear stuff. Stupid shit like broken fingers. My left knee is always screwed up, but here I am doing a pedigree off the top rope. That never helped. But I never thought twice about doing anything. I've gone into a few matches with Chris Hero and said please don't forearm me into my shoulder. Shit happens.

TONY: Have you ever been 100% healthy?

PUNK: Yeah, a while ago. It's been a while. When I separated my AC joint, I didn't really know what I did. The next weekend, I worked Adrian Serrano. Here I am working a shootfighter. He's tugging on my arm. I'm screaming at him and punching him in the stomach as hard as I can. He's punching me back. That's one of the funniest matches I've ever done.

TONY: So what bookings have you missed so far, and what are you going to miss?

PUNK: I obviously have missed at least one booking every weekend. I was going to try to work a couple of Chikara shows. I was supposed to work Donovan Morgan the weekend after I got hurt in Indiana.

TONY: For who?

PUNK: I have no idea. I got hooked up with Robert Lemke, a k a Mohammed, and I was going to drive to the show with him. They asked if I wanted to work Donovan Morgan, and, yeah, I'd do it.

AL: Have you ever worked Donovan Morgan?

PUNK: Never worked Donovan Morgan. I'd like to.

TONY: You've worked a lot on the East Coast and the Midwest. Ever get any calls to do any West Coast wrestling? Epic Pro Wrestling or XPW

PUNK: Me and Cabana got an offer from Chris Daniels - if we were ever in California - that he'd try to get us booked on a show. It was that sort of thing. And he's a real standup guy and he's helped us out a lot. So I'm sure if I was in California, I'm sure they'd put me on. But I've never gotten anything - except King of the Indies. I was contacted to work on this year's King of the Indies, from Roland Alexander.

TONY: When is that?

PUNK: The end of October, the weekend of my birthday.

TONY: What do you think of the West Coast talent?

PUNK: I haven't seen those guys. I haven't seen Super Dragon, I haven't seen B-Boy. Obviously, Chris Daniels hails from the West Coast now. Daniels is awesome. Morgan and Modest, I've seen a lot of their NOAH stuff. Nothing really too standoutish, but I think once they let those guys do what they can do, they'll really shine. They're over with the crowds. That's cool, good for them. I want to check out the last Super 8 to check out the Morgan-AJ Styles match. I heard they had a really good match. I haven't really gotten a chance to see a lot of stuff. Because I suck. I sat on the couch for three weeks and watched the same god damn tapes over and over again. Horrible.

TONY: Was it ever hard to get motivated for a show? Are there some you look forward to more than others?

PUNK: Sometimes I look forward to shows more than others, but that doesn't stop me from going out and giving my all. Some shows I don't look forward to at all. It depends on where they are and how far away they are and how much sleep I got. The intensity is always there, but the desire to be at a certain place at a certain time. I could always count a thousand reasons why I should be home. But I'm always out there, always wrestling. I'm not complaining. I love doing it and there's no place I'd rather be. But a lot of the times, me and Prazak and Cabana find ourselves in the middle of nowhere, trying to find food at 4 in the morning, laughing at each other because we're a bunch of idiots working for chump change half the time. I could write a book someday about all the crappy stories I've got.

AL: Are there any other guys getting close to that consecutive week thing you had going?

PUNK: I have no idea. I hope someone does. I think in regards to working every weekend, I think I proved my point. I'm sure when I come back, I'll be working every weekend, but if there's a day I'm not booked, I don't think I'll really mind. I'll take a weekend off here and there. I've proved my point about working every weekend and trying to get my name out there. I think it's someone else's turn to go break the record. I dare somebody to do double and triple shows every time.

AL: But you never did the three shows in one day?

PUNK: That'd be hilarious. I don't think that's ever going to happen. I had my window of opportunity, and it didn't happen.

TONY: What do you think are your best matches of 2002?

PUNK: I've had a lot of really good 3-way dances lately. You'd have somebody who would cancel or somebody would no-show. Ian would put me and Cabana in a 3-way with somebody. I think me, Cabana and Quack was really good. The second time with me, Cabana and Hero was really good. My 55-minute match with Hero was good. Me, Cabana and Guerrero from Dayton was a lot of fun. What was fun for me in that match is that Eddy Guerrero hates 3-way dances. The first time I worked him and Rey, he explained to me, 3-way dances, they don't make any sense. So me and Rey bounced things off each other, and I think Guerrero was really impressed with what we came up with. So the next night in Morris, he said, I know what you do, just go out there and wrestle me. So, to me, that was a nice compliment. We just went out there and call it up. The second time I was in a 3-way with him and he walked up to me and said, this is your match. How cool is that? He said I'm following you. Eddy Guerrero is following me? You don't expect that, you don't know what to do with it. I talked to Cabana and said, he wants us to call it, I don't know what to fucking do. He's Eddy Guerrero. He hates 3-way dances. What can I do?

AL: A lot of people hate 3-way dances.

PUNK: You know, I hate 3-way dances. A lot of times it's two guys wrestling and one guy standing there with his thumb up his ass. It doesn't look right. Everybody should be trying to pin everybody else. Especially in an elimination match. This is what really drives me crazy, and I've probably been guilty of doing this because it's just instinctive. But if it's an elimination match, why are you gonna break up the pin? Wouldn't you just flop on top of the other guy. But I'm probably guilty of that, too. But I had a fire lit under my ass because I hated them so much and I wanted it to make s ense and I wanted to have all three guys doing something at the same time. Me, Hero, Quack and Cabana came up with great shit. Me, Cabana and Hero were doing 3-way chain wrestling. Just keep going. See what happens, and that was a lot of fun.

TONY: What is wrong with indy wrestling in 2002, and what is right?

PUNK: I think people who wear T-shirts in the ring. Too many people wear those god damn parachute pants, too. Those drive me crazy.

AL: Why are people wearing T-shirts and parachute pants?

PUNK: I should talk, right, I wear basketball shorts. For some reason, I don't look right in tights. A lot of guys are maybe nervous, or concerned about the way they look. So they should get in the gym. A lot of egos on guys - and everybody has an egos - but there are egos on guys who shouldn't have an ego. Guys who run their mouths on message boards and wrestle once every two months. They think they know everything about the business. What's right? Guys like Cabana, Hero, Ace Steel and American Dragon, Reckless Youth, Mike Quackenbush, Low-Ki. Guys who aren't really out to kill somebody, but that match isn't filled with horrible punches or daylight on kicks. They snug work. Here's what I like, a guy who's not afraid to take a bump. It's 2002, and everyone knows pro wrestling is fake. The goal is to get the two people who go, I know these guys are friends, but I think they're really pissed at each other tonight, because they were beating the shit out of each other. That's putting the realism back into wrestling. There are a lot of guys who are doing that. I think Chikara, and Ring of Honor add a little more realism and less cartoonish stuff. I can't stand to watch WWF, they don't have a single guy who can throw a punch without them cutting a camera angle so they won't look bad. You hear the WWF denounce working stiff. Calling guys like Ki and Daniels who kick people as hard as they can outlaws. So be it. If I'm an outlaw, I'll gladly accept that. The last wrestling outlaw was Bruiser Brody and I love Bruiser Brody. So give me his nickname, I'll gladly take it.

AL: You talk about their guys can't do this or that, but they have some of the best wrestlers in the world. They have Eddy Guerrero.

PUNK: In my opinion, Eddy Guerrero is the best worker in the world right now. They got Benoit. But a lot of the guys coming up from developmental territories are all cookie-cutterish. They all work the same. They all have the same build. They all wear the short little trunks. There really is not a variety. You've got guys like Jericho and Benoit - there are a lot of good workers in the WWF. But I don't think they let them do what they can do. Look at what Jericho was doing in WCW compared to what he's doing now in WWF. If you're looking at longevity, that's the way to go. But I think he peaked when he was in WCW. I still love the guy.

AL: What about NWA. They're using Low-Ki, they're using Christopher Daniels. You're right there, when you're healthy. Any possibility of that?

PUNK: It's just like the Super 8, I think there's always a possibility. There have been a few contacts with people. I don't know how many damn tapes I've sent them. I've never sent a tape to anybody in my life, and suddenly I'm sending all kinds of tapes. Jerry Lynn is working there. I'd much rather see Ace in there. Ace totally deserves it. He's been doing this for 11 years, and that's a long ass time. He and Doug Williams are probably the most underrated wrestlers in the world right now. I really would like to see Ace get in there. I think Ace and Ki would have a kick ass match. I haven't seen their MCW match yet, but I hear it was really good. There's a chance you're going to see some familiar faces on that show, sooner or later. If it lasts. It'd be a nice thought, at least.

TONY: You and Cabana have had a trillion matches. How do you come up with new spots and keep from getting bored?

PUNK: You've got to keep thinking of new shit, stuff to do. Make this spot a little different. Maybe in a place I'd one-up him, he turns around and one-ups me. A lot of the people have seen a lot of our matches, but they all evolve. The same spots can turn into different things. Me and him haven't had the same match twice. We're always thinking of different stuff to do. If anyone's put up with my dumb ideas - and vice-versa - it's him and me. We can always bounce stuff off each other and say no, that's stupid.

AL: Is that how you end up on top of a pop machine? You wrestle each other so many times?

PUNK: That had something to do with it, but also, Minnesota was the place where we cut our teeth. That's where we started. We watched Danny and Ace and Pearce. When they brought me there, I was a fat kid. I started working out. Eventually I got better and we came into our own. It's sort of like me and Hero at the last House of Hardcore show. We just looked at each other and were just like, let's destroy this place. We did it. I think a lot of it was called on the spot, because you can read the crowd a little better that way. If you go out and the crowd is dead and you're going through a match all mechanical and you don't wrestle with your heart ... but it turned into a huge feud and it's like, let's do a spot off this Pepsi machine. It was his idea and I of course backed him 100%. That's one of the sillier things I've done in my life.

TONY: How many more years do you see yourself wrestling?

PUNK: Shit, we'll be wrestling as long as Tracey Smothers is alive. I love Tracey Smothers.

TONY: If you could book any 5 guys, who would you book?

PUNK: I get 5 guys?

TONY: The 5 guys you'd say, "We have to sign these guys."

PUNK: Tracey Smothers, Ace, those are the top 2 right there. Ace could teach all the rookies something and Tracey could teach Ace something. Cabana, Hero, Chris Daniels. Those would be the 5. Of course, there'd be more people, you can't have a fed with just 5 guys, but those would be the guys.

TONY: Would you like to be a guy who trains one day, after you're done with wrestling?

PUNK: I think that'd be something I'd be interested, but honestly, only if Cabana would help me out. We could have our own little Danny and Ace clique.

AL: What would you call it? Theirs is perfect - Steel Domain - it works.

PUNK: I have no idea. It'd be a really dumb name, I guarantee you.

TONY: In Milwaukee, you gave a fan a spinebuster.

PUNK: That was bad. I was walking back from the match. I was about to turn around, flip off the fans one more time. Somebody dumped an entire pitcher of beer on me, and I didn't see who it was because they did it from behind. So I whipped around I grabbed him by the throat and put him in the air and cocked back to hit him, and then I realized - it was a girl. I obviously didn't punch her. I kind of dropped her, and she took a bump. I felt bad. I looked up, and there are 3 guys running at me. So I proceeded to get in a fistfight with those guys. All the boys cleared out of the locker room and started tackling people. There are chairs flying everywhere and shit. I kicked one guy. Carmine put a guy in a chokehold, I swung at him, the guy ducks and I hit Carmine in the face. That was exciting.

TONY: Your characters are so off the wall, do you have a lot of fans attacking you?

PUNK: Yes. There were 3 weekends in a row. I got into a fan fight hat trick. And it's not something I'm exactly proud of, but I was pretty much provoked. I still shouldn't have done anything.

AL: Were they all in the same fed?

PUNK: No. The first weekend was in Mid-American. I was at the Dairyland Greyhound Park and I was walking back and some kid took a swing at me. I was jawing at him, and he reared back and wanted to punch me. I ducked out of the way, I grabbed him and threw him on the ground. I kicked him really hard. I didn't punch him, I just kicked him. I looked up and his two friends had their hands in the air, like they didn't want any part of it. Then the locker room emptied.

The next weekend I was in Detroit and the same thing happened. It was Bumpin' Uglies. Brawl at the Hall show. It was me and Hero vs. Ace and Cabana. Ace and Cabana were in the ring and me and Hero were making our way around ringside. I was doing the drug-free thing and - this is a really weird situation - the guy threw a worked punch at me. He was just rough housing, and he was way into it. So I grabbed him in close and I said, you made the biggest mistake. I don't want you to get in trouble or anything. Then out of nowhere, Hero just blasts the kid. All Hero saw was the kid swing at me and then me grab him. There was a guardrail and his friends are stepping over the guardrail and me and Hero just started swinging. I looked up and Ace is looking at me, shaking his head.

Then the next weekend I can't even remember where I was, or what happened. I just remember everyone making a big deal about the fan fight hat trick. It's not something I'm proud of. But once swung on, I will defend myself.

TONY: What's the key to being a good heel, and making people hate you?

PUNK: I'm an asshole. I will not lie. There are a lot of people reading this interview who are laughing and agreeing with me. But you ask people their opinion of me, a lot of people won't say anything good. It just comes natural. I know how to interact with fans. I know how to pick the one thing that's really gonna bug the shit out of a guy sitting in the crowd. I make eye contact. I'm not afraid to push it to the limit. Some people might be a little afraid. I'll challenge the biggest guy in the crowd. I'm just doing my job. Plus, it's fun as hell.

TONY: What's the key to being a good face?

PUNK: I think being a natural babyface is something that comes along once in a great while. Ace always says I'm a natural babyface, so if Ace ran a promotion, he'd put me as a face, which drives me crazy. But I think you've got to connect with the fans. You just slap hands and kiss babies. A lot of people just keep their head down without realizing there are people on all 4 sides of you.

AL: Hopefully.

PUNK: Yeah, hopefully. Everything's key. The music's got to work. You can't be a big babyface coming out to a death metal song, in my opinion, at least.

AL: So you use the Ole song?

PUNK: You have to use the Ole song. More than one person knows that's what you have to do to get over.

TONY: What do you think of the other guy in Chicago who uses your music?

PUNK: Everybody's got to do what they've got to do to get over.

AL: Do you think he even knows it's your song.

PUNK: He knows it's my song. He knows. I don't know how you don't know that.

TONY: Did you talk to him about it?

PUNK: I talked to him about it. The first time, I asked him politely to stop using my music. I said I didn't have any heat with him. Maybe you didn't know it's my song. I asked him if he knew who the Bouncing Souls were. He said who? That really pissed me off. That means he doesn't listen to the Bouncing Souls, so where else would he have heard my music. But, I love Egotistico Fantastico. I can't wait to work him.

AL: And you mentioned you want to work Eric Marx.

PUNK: I like Eric Marx. He's a nice kid.

TONY: Is it possible to have a real superfed in the Midwest?

PUNK: No, it's impossible. Nobody could start a superfed. All the promotions on the East Coast couldn't get along. Somebody like Jerry Jarrett's got to come out of nowhere and pick who he wants to be in his promotion. Everybody talks about the Midwest scene. It's Wisconsin, Minnesota and Indiana. To me, the Chicago scene just sucks. It's ridiculous.

TONY: So what is wrong with it?

PUNK: Too many shady workers.

TONY: Can it be fixed?

PUNK: Sure, it can be fixed. People won't listen and do things the right way. I mean, there is more than one right way, but everybody thinks they know what's right. And everybody's going against the grain. It ain't gonna work. You won't see Zenner get along with Whack and DeCero.

AL: Or Zenner get along with anyone.

PUNK: No, apparently he likes me, it's just Jayson Reign and Danny Dominion who don't. ... something like that. And that's not somebody I'd want to work for anyway. Have the balls to say you don't want to use me. Don't blame it on someone. Don't scapegoat someone. That's cheap. That's really cheap.

AL: I was thinking about Ian. Going into the Morris show, he sounded like he was ready to conquer the Midwest. He was really pumped up about it. Then he hasn't been back to Chicago for whatever reason. He can't find a place. He drew maybe 500 on not a very nice night.

PUNK: A very shitty night. Isn't that the night Big Don spun out of control and got into a car accident? Morris was a nice place to run. Ian's probably going to end up doing a show there once a year as a fund-raiser for the football team. I can't imagine it's going to be a regular venue. We haven't run there since February, or whenever it was.

TONY: Do you think if Ian starting running here, the other promotions might start working harder, once they see how hard they work?

PUNK: I think the promotions around here work hard. I don't think there's anybody who sleepwalks, or mails in a match. I think they work hard. I just don't think a lot of them are any good.

AL: Working hard could be relative, there might be a difference between what they do and working Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

PUNK: But there's also a difference between a really good show and a show where every single guy goes out there to try to tear everything down. There have been matches with me and Cabana in the opener, or me and Ace in the opener. You don't go balls out. You don't do everything you normally do. Do a few little things and pop the crowd. On a show where from ring bell to ring bell, every guy goes out and the crowd can see the same spot 4 or 5 times. It's got to build up. That's what I like about the IWA shows. Ian tells the guys on first, you get 8 minutes and finish maybe with a fisherman's suplex.

AL: Don't take it out in the crowd in the first match.

PUNK: Exactly. But a lot of guys do that.

AL: Do they just not know?

PUNK: To them, that's what makes a good match, but they'd be hard-pressed to put on the match that I talked about where it's nice and basic, you get the job done and do what's asked of you. Instead of playing your cards in the first match. There's nothing wrong with it if it works, but I think the crowds are totally desensitized by it.

AL: Is that how it was in the old days, in the backyard shows in the LWF? Is that why people came out?

PUNK: That's when wrestling had just started getting hot. So I think it was a mix. We ran a high school in Tinley Park and yeah, we drew like 1,000 people. I can't figure out how. That boggles my mind. I'm not gonna say the show was horrible. But if somebody in Chicago would draw 1,000 now, they'd be able to put on a better show. At least I hope if somebody had 1,000 people, they'd want to bring that many people back. I don't think anybody in Chicago has had a decent show with 1,000 people there in a while.

TONY: What makes a good indy promotion - from top to bottom?

PUNK: A little bit of everything, but one guy who calls the shots. You can't have 18 guys running around. The workers get confused. You have to have high flying, you have to have mat wrestling. In that imaginary fed you were talking about, Daryck St. Holmes would have to be the 6th guy. St. Holmes is a different breed of wrestler. He's not going to do the same thing everybody else is going to do, and I'm confident that if you put him in a match with anybody, it'd be a really great match. A little bit of hardcore is OK. I'm not really down with the light tubes, but the occasional brawl through the crowd. You put one guy on top and get a new direction. I don't want to hear people say they want to be 1997 ECW. Jayson Reign was always telling me that's what he wanted MCW to be. Just be yourself. If people liken you to a certain fed, that's fine. But I don't think it should be your goal.

AL: So MCW isn't its own thing. Does IWA stand out. Is IWA its own thing?

PUNK: I think IWA is its own deal. Ian's been a lot of places and he knows a lot of people. He can bring in the hardcore guys. He's got the high flyers. He's got the cruiserweights, like me and Ace. He knows all kinds of old-school guys. There's Tracey. Someone can go to a show and see the Japan strong style, like Cabana and Hero beating the piss out of each other. They can see me and Ace do a lot of technical, quasi-Japanese stuff. They can see somebody fall through a light tube. They can see Todd Morton and Tracey Smothers do Memphis, old-school. There are a million and one things. So IWA borrows a little from everything that Ian's seen. By integrating everything that Ian's seen, I think IWA is its own thing.

TONY: So maybe that's why other promoters aren't as good, because they don't know as many people.

PUNK: Definitely. I got nothing against Brad Drake, the guy running the i8. He seemed depressed. I said what's wrong. He said we only had 170 paid. I'm like, dude, this is your first show, 170 paid is phenomenal. I said what did you want. He said he needed 300. I said 300 is a lofty goal for your first show. I don't know if you plan on doing this once a year. But you got 170 paid, and maybe there were comps. The crowd was full. They were loud. They were with the show the whole time. I told him I thought the show was excellent. But a lot of guys who've never wrestled - let alone ran a show - they have weird goals. They're not necessarily impossible, they're just a little rough. A guy running his first show might want 1,000, but that's not going to happen.

AL: You have worked AWA. What do you think of that production? They draw some places, and some places not so much.

PUNK: Yeah, but Dale Gagne is a business man. He does paid shows, and I've done paid shows for him where there's nobody in the crowd and I've done paid shows for him in front of some insane amount of people in bizarre locations - Indian reservations and casinos. He always makes his money, and he pays the boys fairly well. He helps everybody out. I like working for Dale. He is a businessman. He's not gonna tell me I need you to fall off this table. He'll tell you I know what you can do, just do it. I just go out there and entertain a crowd, and I get paid well for it. He's a businessman, so there are times he might be shady, but I don't mind. I like working for him. There are AWA shows in the Steel Domain circle that are legendary for ribs. One time I was climbing through the roof of a hotel dumping water on people. When we go to some bizarre places like the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, things tend to get a little rowdy. Police are usually called.

TONY: You mentioned wrestling is at a downpoint. What do you think it's going to take to get back up and drawing fans again?

PUNK: My opinion is people would like to see more realism in wrestling. The NWA-TNA stuff, they're heavily pushing the cruiserweights, because they're good workers. But I don't think anybody's doing anything too crazy, so it looks too worked. I think honestly what the fans would rather see is the strong style, the Japanese. Or at least something where guys are hitting each other. You don't have to murder somebody, but I work stiff. That's not necessarily the way I was taught. But I'll admit that I love it. When I come back, the first time I get cracked real hard with a forearm, I'm probably going to wind up smiling. Because it's something I miss already. Basically, I'm not gonna sell it unless I feel it. I think that translates to the fans. They're not gonna pay attention to it if it doesn't look like it's gonna hurt. So guys throwing weak punches and not being stiff - you don't have to be overly stiff, just snug - I think that's what fans are interested. Something with a little more realism. We don't need Doink the Clown. I'm not saying we need Kawada to kick people's heads off either, but you've got to have a happy medium. WWF wants to denounce everybody who's working stiff. Well, look at the ratings. They have decent guys, but I can't harp on it enough that it's too watered down.

TONY: What makes a good worker? What's the key to getting your name out there?

PUNK: There's a huge difference - and not a lot of people realize this - between being a wrestler and being a worker. A worker can do anything with any given situation. If you work out an entire match and in the first two minutes somebody gets hurt and you don't know what to do. You don't know to go home or something, you've got to get experience and be able to react. But I think what makes a worker nowadays is not somebody who just sits on his ass and works once a month. It's somebody who accepts every single shitty show that comes their way. They're in the gym five days a week. Respect the guys around you. Watch tapes. Get better. Chris Benoit didn't get to where he is by wrestling once a month. He got more of a hookup than some people. But my mentality is I'll take any booking and drive anywhere to get where I want to be. It's made me what I am today and I don't regret any of it.

AL: Do you think for some people, instead of watch tapes and learn, it's watch tapes and copy?

PUNK: Just lifting stuff off tapes is probably the wrong thing. ... Tracey Smothers told me something. He said when he was coming up, he wasn't even taught how to do a piledriver, because that was somebody's finisher. Nobody would show it to you. Everything's stolen and I didn't invent all the moves I do. ... When you're first starting out, you see guys and you want to emulate them. They you evolve and put your own twist on it.

TONY: Do you have any uncertainty at shows, maybe a show won't happen?

PUNK: You mean going to a show and it's not there? No, just when we got kicked out of Canada was the closest thing.

AL: Yeah, what was that about?

PUNK: I've never been stiffed. There were a few times where I got paid and I didn't even work. Canada, we drove from Chicago to Michigan, then drove another 5 hours to Canada. We were supposed to work each other on a huge show. We got searched at the border. ... It was me, Cabana and a ring announcer from Michigan by the name of Kevin Hart. We got searched, and all kinds of ridiculous things ensued. I have a big mouth so I probably insulted someone. I had multivitamin packs in my pocket. She said these are drugs. I thought fuck that.

TONY: Why should somebody book CM Punk?

PUNK: (long pause) I'm a hard worker. I will have the right attitude and make sure the match is in my opinion the best match on the show.

TONY: What do you think of the coverage in the Midwest, compared to the East Coast?

PUNK: The guys who deserve it in the Midwest are getting coverage now. I think a lot of people cry about that. I don't really think the Midwest as a whole deserves a lot of attention, but then I don't think a lot of things on the East Coast deserve attention either. I think people should focus on what's good. There is good and bad everywhere.

AL: When you say coverage, are you talking 1wrestling?

PUNK: All of it's on the East Coast, the magazines, 1wrestling. They're gonna pay attention to what's local to them. When they report on a show, you won't see a live Midwest report because they don't live out here.

AL: I don't know if anyone's coming out to the T-3 or the Sweet Science.

PUNK: Then again, they don't advertise.

AL: You mentioned while you were injured, you got a lot of response from fans. Do you ever wonder if anybody notices what you're doing?

PUNK: I got a lot of cool people either called me or emailed me that I didn't expect, wishing me well. A whole bunch of people sent me emails to my hotmail account, which I read, and then accidentally deleted because I tried to reply to everybody but screwed up. I know Terry Allen emailed my hotmail account, but I deleted it, so I don't have his email address, but I want to thank him. Ace and Vic were calling me that night at the hospital to see what's up. Cabana stayed at the hospital with me. I got emails from a lot of guys I've never talked to, guys on the East Coast and West Coast. So I know people are paying attention. There are 3 girls who always went to MCW shows who gave me a get-well card. That was cool. I don't remember their names, but thank you girls. I've got to thank all my friends, Chez, taking care of me. It's been an interesting experience. I didn't think that many people would stand up and take notice if I was down and out, but a lot of people have.

TONY: You and Vic were very close. Did you know he was thinking of retiring?

PUNK: I talked to him before. Honestly, I don't think he had that much more to go anyway. He was thinking of wrapping it up in 2003. Before he hooked up with me and Ace and Cabana, he said he was thinking of hanging it up then, but he was having fun again. It's nice to know my dumb ass made him want to wrestle more. I don't want to pressure him. I'd like to see one more good match, Ace or Cabana. We should have a Vic retirement barbecue. He's the best fucking wrestler ever. I love Vic Capri.

TONY: What do you think is his main reason for retiring?

PUNK: Severe arthritis in his neck. I think that's fucked up, you have to retire. Vic Capri has become one of my best friends. I would much rather have him be up and about instead of in a wheelchair or dead. He called me. I was laid up in bed. I had my phone by me and I was real selective about whose call I'd take. Capri called me and said he was gonna make the announcement. I was the first guy he called. I will admit I hung up the phone and cried. I was pissed off. I wish it was me instead of him. He's a friend, and I'd rather have harm befall me. It sucks. It shouldn't happen to people like Vic. I don't wish harm on anyone, but there are a million and one people it should happen to before him. He doesn't deserve that. But that's life. I cracked my skull. I wish I didn't, but I did. I wish I didn't have to take time off, but I have to do it. He's not only one of the best workers in Chicago, but he's an awesome friend. He's helped me out in a lot of situations where he didn't need to. That's my definition of a friendship. He's gone out of his way when he didn't have to. He's helped me in the gym. I've seen him every day for the past 6 months. Now I broke my skull and got hurt and I haven't seen him for 3 weeks. So I'm Jonesing for Vic Capri.

TONY: Do you think he'll return?

PUNK: That's a tricky question. I don't want to ... he's hurt.

AL: You want to see him return.

PUNK: I definitely want to see him return. But I don't want to see him kill himself. If he thinks he can go, he can go. I'm not pressuring him to come back. He'll know. I just don't want to see him do anything stupid. Him not wrestling, it sucks. It's really hard to deal with. I dealt with it worse than me fracturing my skull. The doctor told me I fractured my skull and I laughed. I thought I had the hardest head. But Capri tells me he's done, and that hit me a lot harder than fracturing my skull.

AL: How many times did you work against him?

PUNK: Three times. Another thing that sucks - and this is being selfish - is I know we have a lot more in us. We've got a lot better matches. We were talking about tagging up in LWF, we were working on a tag match, me and him vs. Ace and Cabana in IWA. We were thinking of turning it into a cage match. We had a lot more to do. That's the thing about sudden retirement. There's a lot we wanted to do. Maybe he'll feel a lot better after taking 6 months off. Who knows? It's a shitty situation.

TONY: If you could watch one more match with Vic Capri, who would it be against? Who should it be against?

PUNK: Hands down, Jayson Reign, because those 2 have so much history together. They're the epitome of Chicago wrestling. But no, since Jayson's retired, we can't pick Jayson, so the second choice ...

AL: Would you want it to be you?

PUNK: Would I want it to be me? God no. I'd shit up the place and I'd wind up cracking my head again. ... I know he loves working Ace. He and Ace had a best-of-7 match in IWA. That was good stuff. Cabana's matches are always really good. I won't lie. I would think it'd be one of us three - me, Ace or Cabana. Unless he could work Great Muta or someone like that.

AL: If you only had one match left, would it have to be Cabana?

PUNK: Yeah, I think so. Questions like that are tough. I like working different guys for different reasons. I remember the two first times I worked Chris Hero, I hated it, because we didn't click. And all of the sudden, me and Chris for the title, it was bam, it was magic. We had an awesome match, had the 2-out-of-3 falls, then the 55-minute ladder match. Working Chris Hero is a blast. Working Ace is fun as hell, too. There are times me and Ace are sitting here watching TV at 4 in the morning and he'll be like, next time we work, I'm doing this to you. Working Cabana, he's the first guy I clicked with. It was boom, and me and him were off and running. We had some bad matches, but that's probably because we were goofing off too much and didn't make it look good in front of the 5 people who were there. I think overall, it'd be him. I love working him, so if I could have a silly 6-way dance, that'd be cool.

TONY: Watching Vic retire so young, do you worry that you might have to retire early?

PUNK: No. I don't know what's wrong with me. When I took the bump, I knew something was wrong right away. I thought I broke my neck. I don't know why. It was at the base of my neck. I felt all this pressure. The doctor told me it was the blood spilling into my spinal column. Which is pretty scary when you think about it, but here I am laughing about it. I'm obviously not immortal. I always joke around with Chez like I'm indestructible. It's my mentality. I'm not gonna jump off a 4-story building, but I never think I'll have to retire because of something I do. I do what I do. If that winds up being it, so be it. But I can't think that way. I'm not that pessimistic.

AL: I'm sure you've seen some terrible things happen to guys in the ring.

PUNK: I've seen a lot of bad things.

AL: Do you feel fortunate that although what you have is really bad, that you probably will be able to come back, while other things that look a lot more innocent could turn out to be a shattered leg?

PUNK: Yeah. I guess if you want to break your head, you've got to do it the way I did. It was the most painful experience of my life, but I'm better now. Three weeks after I did it, movies I'd watch reference people cracking their skulls and dying. It hasn't sunk in that it's that serious. Doctors were ta lking about doing surgery. I was like whatever.

TONY: How do you think Vic Capri should be remembered by the fans?

PUNK: Vic Capri is very selfless. He put anybody over, he didn't care. He always worked for the match instead of himself. He wasn't worried about getting his stuff in. A lot of guys are worried about themselves. He's a guy who made everybody look good. He took everybody he worked with and made them look like a superstar, and half the time put them over. Ace said there's a lot of guys in LWF - like Mimic - who should be kissing Vic Capri's ass right now because Vic Capri put him over. That's the wrestling business, it's built on jobs. But I hope those guys shook his hand afterward and thanked him. It's Vic Capri, he's such an awesome talent. I went over on Eddy Guerrero. I didn't deserve that at all. That's ridiculous. Somebody like me going over on Eddy Guerrero. The fact I got to wrestle him for the Intercontinental belt in Pittsburgh - that's ridiculous, too. He could have got in serious trouble for that. That's how much I appreciate Guerrero, and I kept thanking him until he told me to shut up, that's what I hope these guys were doing. Vic Capri is the Eddy Guerrero of Chicago, which is just fucking awesome.

AL: You mentioned a Vic Capri barbecue. I think maybe you were half-kidding.

PUNK: No, I'm serious. Maybe it doesn't have to be a barbecue. Brian Zenner, do something for Vic Capri. Name the T-3 after him. Don't just let him fall to the wayside. Vic Capri carried MCW on his shoulders for so long. LWF probably has something in the works for him.

AL: I know he wants to lay low, do you think he'd be willing to come back.

PUNK: And do a non-wrestling thing? I'd almost be inclined to say no, because the way I feel right now, the first weekend I was hurt I had an offer to do an interview segment on a show and get paid ... for Carmine in MAW. I could have done it. The next weekend, someone wanted me to ref. I felt kind of dirty, because the next time I step into a ring in front of a crowd, it's gonna be when I come back. I feel weird about doing a special guest referee, or even an angle, partially because I'm enjoying my time off. I mean, it's driving me crazy that I can't wrestle, but I proved my point - 88 weekends in a row. I'm chilling out now. If I hadn't been hurt, I'd still be wrestling.

AL: You talked about that back when it was in the 50s.

PUNK: People are probably tired of hearing about it - so what he wrestled 88 weeks in a row.

AL: But everybody has to have something to keep them going.

PUNK: That kept me going.

TONY: What else kept you going? I'm sure there are times you wanted to calm down.

PUNK: There's never been a time I wanted to calm down. You hear stories of guys who love the business more than anybody. There are guys who have paid more dues, and they're on top, but I have a sickening, obsessive love for this business. I've sacrificed so much, missed weddings, graduations. I hear a lot of, well, there are a lot of shows, but your friend will only graduate college once. She understood. And thankfully people around me understood. But there's also people I was really good friends with who I don't talk to anymore, because of wrestling. One time there was a person who said "wrestling or me" and I said "wrestling." I don't regret it. I love this business.

AL: Even if you're at a show with 15 or 20 people and you're looking at an 8-hour drive home?

PUNK: Never a second thought.

TONY: What about the sport do you love so much.

PUNK: I never considered myself an athlete. I've never did anything in high school ... I like wrestling, I like getting in there and fighting with someone, the physicality of it. I like the camaraderie with the boys. That's always fun. I've gotten to see a lot of places I wouldn't have gotten to see without wrestling. Maybe it's not a big deal to some people, but I got to see the sun rise in Philadelphia, driving 100 miles on a highway I've never been on in my entire life. I get a kick out of shit like that. I've been on a plane with Marion Berry because of wrestling. That shit would never happen before. I've met a lot of cool people. I've made lifetime friends. That's the key. I never know whether the next match is gonna be something I'm gonna laugh about or something that's really good. It's always different, whether it's the same building, the same place or the same guys.

AL: Have you enjoyed your LWF experience?

PUNK: Yeah, I've enjoyed my LWF experience. I don't want to get too involved in the behind the scenes stuff. I enjoyed the work in MCW, it was local and it's all my friends. Chetti comes in and we all go to Capri's and head out and go somewhere. That was cool.

AL: Can you keep up with those guys?

PUNK: Sure. Just because I'm drug free doesn't mean I don't cause trouble. I probably cause the most trouble.

TONY: What do you have booked for when you're back?

PUNK: One booking against American Dragon.

AL: And you mentioned Sweet Science.

PUNK: I don't really want to say, though, I mean, I'm not the booker.

AL: You would think, though, he'd want you.

PUNK: You would think. But I think that would be an appropriate time for me to come back. IWA is my home away from home.

AL: You mentioned you didn't mind LWF using the angle of Broox being your brother. The next step, down the road, let's say that got over.

PUNK: Oh, not gonna happen.

AL: Won't do it?

PUNK: What?

AL: Wrestle your brother?


AL: Has it ever happened.

PUNK: Yeah, I wrestled him once, in November of 97 or something like that.

AL: So no way?

PUNK: No, I'm not gonna be responsible for that.

AL: You're still able to coexist in LWF. There are no problems?

PUNK: Not at all.

TONY: You worried about people forgetting about you?

PUNK: I'm not worried about it. I'm sure it's gonna happen, though. I've said it a million times, I ain't nobody. People will forget about me. A lot of things do surprise me, though, like all the people sending me mail. I'm sure if I come back for Sweet Science, the crowd would be real receptive, because of the ladder match I had with Chris Hero. Every time me and Chris Hero would come out of that curtain, everybody was on their feet, as if we had just finished wrestling that match. So I'm sure the IWA fans will be very appreciative.

TONY: When you come back will you be able to perform like you always do?

PUNK: No, I think I'll be better. I'm gonna be scary when I come back. Think about it, I've been wrestling every weekend for two years and now I've got three or four months off? Forget about it. ... You're probably gonna see some new shit out of me.

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