Wrestling Rewind

Wrestling Rewind: CM Punk’s Best In The World Documentary

Author’s Note: I truly want to thank the supporters of this website for their continued interest in Wrestling Rewind. Thought it was a cool concept to transcribe Old Wrestling PPV’s for Throwback Thursday. I personally want to thank Phil Brooks aka CM Punk for being my hometown idol. I was lost personally in 2011 and the rise of your character in the WWE gave me the motivation not only to be a wrestling fan again, but finding my true purpose in life.

Never allowed anybody to dictate your integrity. You proved your haters wrong. Despite what anybody says, you’re the foundation behind the modern day wrestling boon. As a fellow Chicagoan, i’m glad to have you as my local role model. Never had the opportunity to meet you in person. Never fit any mold in the corporate entertainment world, but there’s no questioning the fact that you were a true source of inspiration for wrestling fans all around the world. I just wanted to say thank you Phil for the memories and the inspiration.

The Best in the World Documentary on the WWE Network is a must watch for wrestling fans who’ve been told you can’t do this or that. You can’t change anything in this world if you can’t change yourself. This is a story of a wrestling fan who found his escape, had to overcome obstacles and became an underground hero. I’m going to transcribe this documentary in a movie script format. If I make mistakes, let me know. I hope this transcription does this documentary justice.

Signature comments and moments will be italicized in this article. 

CM Punk: I’m a guy for all intents and purposes, never should have even made it to the WWE. I’ve had roadblock after roadblock after roadblock thrown in my way. But, not only did I get passed those roadblocks, I did it while flipping off the people who put up those roadblocks. I feel like I have a responsibility to the younger wrestlers on the roster. The one’s who are not signed yet , and the future of pro 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.

Interviewer: So, Tell Me, What Was Life Like Growing Up Here In Chicago?

CM Punk: Oh, god. It feels so weird to me. It’s like a start from the beginning kind of thing.

Interviewer: Sure.

CM Punk: It’s like a freudian tell me about your mother and I’m like, UGH! My relationship with my family was never super good and I never got what I needed from my blood family. I was always neglected or, you know, whatever. This isn’t crying. This isn’t therapy hour. I could care less, but I watched, you know, my parents, when my brother turned 16, buy him a new car. My brother had the opportunity to go to college and flunked out and spent all their money, you know, so things like that, but like I was never afforded those. I always kind of thought I was liked adopted, like maybe I was from outer space or something like that.

Punk points out his space boy tattoo. I always just found it weird that like, you know, parents could have a kid and not like just 100% fully support them like in anything they wanted to do, you know? I watched all the resources and everything go to the brother who stole from me and I was just like, peace out. Like, i’m out of here, you know? And I’ve got, I mean, I can’t even say adopted, I just showed up one day, like at Chez’ place and was like I need a place to stay, you know? And I’m not saying this is going  to be for two days or three days or three months. It’s like, I can’t, I’m not going, i’m not going home, you know? Like, I have no home.

Chez (Punk’s Best Friend) : He’s always had a really hard relationship with his mom. They’ve always been really distant. They never got along. He slept at my parent’s house all the time.

CM Punk: I sort of became adopted by Chez’s Family.

Chaleen (Chez’s Sister): As long as I can remember, he’s always been a very integral part of my life, I would say.

Chez’s Mom: He’s just part of the family. Like Holidays, you know, Christmas mornings, it was sort of a natural thing.

Chaleen: With his parents, you know, I know that he does love his biological parents, but they aren’t close.

CM Punk: I am the kind of person who like if i’m not getting something that I need from somewhere, like to me, I don’t cry about it. I’m just, okay, well, i’m going to go here and find what I need.

CM Punk on His Father: The stuff with my dad having problems with alcohol was 100% real, you know. Like he never beat me or my mom or anything like that, but I just would always be like, oh man, he looks like he’s miserable right now. Why would you do that to yourself? Like, this doesn’t look like fun. It’s pretty heavy stuff, but I remember one time, and this is it. This is real life. You know, I remember one time my dad was like extremely late to pick me from little league, which is also probably a criminal sin because he was an assistant coach, so, he picked me up in his work van. He’s an electrician.

I remember like driving home and like he’s throwing up like the whole time. He was just like driving and just like, yeah, and I was a kid and like I didn’t know anything about anything. I was just like holy crap. I just remember getting on my bike when I got home and like riding away just like in tears, just like, please don’t let it be cancer. Please don’t let it be cancer, you know, because I didn’t know,  and it was just the cycle of life. That was an very eye-opening experience. Okay, you drink and that’s what happens to you. I’m never drinking. It doesn’t make any sense. That does not look like fun. It horrified me.

CM Punk: School was always weird for me because I guess I could always be classified as a nerd because I wear comic book t-shirts and old punk rock t-shirts and everyone just made fun of me because I have like one pair of shoes, one pair of jeans, and wear the same stuff all the time. Obviously, that sort of carried over until adult life. I remember like wanting to fit in, but I mean never fitting in like anywhere. You know, I realized very young that like, you know, these jeans aren’t going to make me cool and  if those people want to hangout with me because of what i’m wearing, I don’t want to hangout with them anyway, you know?

Maybe, you just find all these like-minded people in bands or in different schools like all over the world, like they share the same beliefs. And I remember reading Maximum Rock ‘N’ Roll one time when I was in detention and I was into Minor Threat, and they had an interview about being straight edge and all that in the Maximum Rock ‘N’ Roll and I was like, okay, I could hang out with those guys because they obviously give a damn what I wear or what I look and we all don’t have to drink. Awesome.! I get it. I’m straight edge. It’s something I identified with so I grabbed it and I ran with it.

Lita: The straight edge lifestyle is kind of an off-shoot, you know, of the punk rock thing. That’s just a total DIY  Culture. You know, you beat to your own drum, you do what you want, you can make whatever happen and it’s up to you. It’s not up to what society says and that universally speaks for CM Punk as a human being as well as punk, the culture.

Lars Frederiksen: When you kind of gravitate towards punk rock and stuff like that, you kind of feel like a freak and you don’t really fit in to the kind of normal clique up things in high school.

CM Punk: I like stuff that wasn’t cool, Comic Books and Pro Wrestling and Frankenstein and Universal Monster Movies.

Lars Frederiksen: And I think that’s tough, you know, for anybody. For me, I found music. For him, I know he’s found music. He found that kind of stimulation to kind of go, okay, everything is cool. He also found wrestling too.

CM Punk on The Moment He Became A Wrestling Fan : The infamous story now that’s been beaten into the ground is me seeing Rowdy Roddy Piper smashed a coconut over Jimmy Snuka’s head. And truth be told, like I don’t even know if that’s the first time i saw wrestling, you know? Because I certainly couldn’t see it like as it happened. That was like the moment, the coconut over the head and the trash talking and Rowdy Roddy Piper was just like, man, that’s me. Look at this guy on TV.

Nobody likes him. Nobody likes me. He wears this skirt. People make fun of him for the way he dresses. People make fun of me for the way I dress. He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s got the biggest mouth. Holy crap! I’m Rowdy Roddy Piper. I guess that was my ticket. I’m going to be Rowdy Roddy Piper and I’m going to have all the money, wear a skirt and piss people off. Like, who cares? I was very into pissing people off and I saw this guy doing it and making money. I was sold.

CM Punk On The Creation of The LWF:  I was about maybe 15 years old, I became good friends with my buddy, Larry, who I worked with. He was like, hey, we’re going to do this wrestling federation in my backyard. You know, I was like, well, I’m in, clearly. And I was like if you want do something, do it yourself.

It was very, my meager beginnings was very punk rock because it was just like, well hey, you know, eventually, parents get upset. You’re digging four giant holes in their backyard to stick posts in and tie yarn around the ropes and a bunch of kid get together and decide, you know what? Let’s build a ring! I don’t who it is, but then one day somebody was like, we should charge admission. We called ourselves The LWF, Lunatic Wrestling Federation.

Chez: And they had this like horribly dangerous makeshift ring, nobody do this at home type of thing, that they somehow assembled in the backyard and, literally, we sat on bales of hay.

CM Punk: The crowd started growing. We literally started drawing like 200-300 people. Like, it was ridiculous.

Chez’s Mom: Every week, they would go to his show and the night before, Friday night, they’d be making signs in the house, you know, that was about every single time.

Chaleen: Those were awesome. Like, those are some of the best memories I have of watching him wrestle. They’re just so fun. It felt like the biggest thing that was happening at school.

Chez: Like none of these guys even went to our school. Like, these are like the surrounding schools. But like, Monday, you know, if you’re walking through the hallways, it was like, “Oh, you’re at the LWF Show.” And like, “Did you see what, so and so did?” It just felt big.

CM Punk: Everybody in Chicago called us BackYarders, say we’re untrained, but the funny thing is that we went to their shows. We would go to their shows and just heckle the crap out of the them. There’d be 10-15 on a good night, there’d be 30 people.

Justin Roberts: I was 17 and working at a show in Chicago for PWI and CM Punk is with the LWF. They were the rebels. They’re doing their own shows. They were self-trained guys. They used to come heckle our shows and mayhem broke out somewhere out of the ring and out of nowhere, CM Punk sits next to me and puts his arm around me and says, “We’re taking over, kid.”

CM Punk: And we were doing shows and we were supposedly the clueless, untrained backyard guys and we’re drawing 900 to 1000 people, just completely unheard of.

Justin Roberts: He was the guy you always heard CM Punk through wrestling hotlines. I just never went out to see it. We always heard that they were just rebellious and, you know, it was dangerous because they were self trained guys.

CM Punk On His Fallout With His Older Brother: All the local wresters hated us. We weren’t trained. So, then it stuck in my head like, well, wait a second. There’s truth to what they’re saying. You know, if we’ve done this without supposedly knowing anything, like if we take the spirit of that, but actually learn our craft, like man, how unstoppable would we be? And that’s where the friction happened. The big thing in contention was my brother, he was in charge of all the money.

We started running real shows. So now you’re talking about like insurance and security deposits for buildings and renting guard rails, renting chairs. You know, one day it was like, he stole all the money. It wasn’t like a small chunk of change for a bunch of kids that were just goofing off, running, you know, pirate pro-wrestling shows.

Like, it was a lot of money and a lot of people to this day are like, oh it’s your brother. And i’m like, really? Do you ever steal from your brother? You know, like that’s not what brothers do, man. Brothers help each other, you know? Like, Toby from H20, he’s my brother. Lars Frederiksen, he’s my brother. These are dudes that love and support me. They don’t steal from me. I haven’t talked to him in like 12 years. That’s real life.

CM Punk on Joining Steel Domain Wrestling: I wanted to get trained and I started looking up schools and I  found Steel Domain. Run by Danny Dominion and Ace Steel, and off and on guy named Kevin Quinn.

Ace Steel: We had drills. We had training. We had alot of, you know, running the ropes and leapfrogs and drop downs and hip tosses and just, you know, what you would call the basics, so to speak.

CM Punk: Maybe two months after I started training, I met Colt Cabana.

Colt Cabana: And I remember, you know, you’d see the different guys coming in and out of the gym. Out comes this guy who looked like a total slob, colored hair, and tattoos, just dirty jeans, just looked such like a dirty kid.

CM Punk: Where we bonded was love of pro wrestling.

Ace Steel: At one point, Punk and Cabana had the keys to the place and they would come in on their off days and maybe just get in there on a Sunday.

Colt Cabana: We both were on the same page. This is what we wanted to do and we were from two completely different worlds.

Ace Steel: He was un-athletic. He had lead in his ass. To do a leapfrog over a guy, it wasn’t easy for him. On the other hand, you got a guy like Cabana who was, you know, he played college football. He was a natural athlete. So, anything I showed Cabana, running the ropes or whatever, he could pick up on that. While on the opposite end, the thing with Punk that was his strong point was connecting with the crowd.

CM Punk: The main story was me and Cabana found each other and instantly became best friends, you know, sleeping on floors and you just find all these other like-minded people all over the country that are doing the same thing. You network with these people.

I wound up meeting all these people and, you know, i’m working two or three jobs to support my wrestling habit and, but wrestling was like the priority. Like, I can’t tell you of all the things that I neglected and/or missed or just completely ruined. You know, I wasn’t into burning bridges. I would blow the bridges up like while I was still on them.

Cassie (Chez’s Sister): He sacrificed everything, you know? He knew that’s what he wanted and he went for it.

Natalie Slater: It’s why he’s a much better friend than a boyfriend because he’s so focused and he’s so dedicated that wrestling always came first. It didn’t matter if it was my birthday or if it was his birthday.

Chaleen: If you know him,  you know, better than to doubt him and he’s going to take any adventure he needs to take to be successful.

CM Punk: We would work anywhere we could. That was the big piece of advice I got. Work as often as you can.

Ace Steel: That’s why we had to take the road and go to Louisville and Detroit, Michigan and, you know, every weekend drive to all these places. It was the only way to get yourself press. They weren’t coming to us that’s for sure.

CM Punk: CM Punk vs. Colt Cabana became THE Match. We got booked based solely on that. People called us up and they’re like, we need this match.

Justin Roberts: I think you heard so much about Punk versus Cabana. You wanted to see it for yourself and it was never the same. They always bring different elements.

Colt Cabana: And together, we would go to Minnesota, to Kentucky, to Pittsburgh, to Dayton, to Cleveland, to Detroit, Milwaukee, everywhere. Everywhere and anywhere anyone would have us, we would wrestle there. We were wrestling for IWA Mid-South all the time, but that was where he had our first home. That’s where you established yourself. That’s where you grow. And we really grew as wrestlers.

CM Punk: They kind of were a blood and guts promotion. They hit each other with frying pans and light tubes and thumbtacks and like all that stuff. And myself and Cabana and Suicide Kid and I met Chris Hero. We were the wrestlers.

IWA Announcers: Punk is a technician in there. A lot of people hear that name, CM Punk, and they have a hard time imagining a scientifically gifted wrestler, but the reality is that’s just what CM Punk is. Punk sort of wrestled circles around him right there. Folks, let’s face it.

CM Punk: We’re doing all the emulating of Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko we could. I was always just a wrestler. To me, it always, I had to create this persona. It never occurred to me that I was a hell of a character myself, you know? So, my girlfriend at the time, Natalie, was also straight edge. You should just be a bad guy.

Natalie Slater : We were talking about it and i’m like, you’re like everything wrestling fans hate. The typical wrestling fan was a beer in one hand and so to be this like snotty, like smart mouth punk rocker with a like stupid haircut and ripped up clothes and then to be like, i’m better than you because I don’t drink.

And at that time, there was like lots of hardcore shirts that had this kind of language on it. Like, straight edge means i’m better than you was like definitely something that was like a sentiment kind of in the scene. So, yeah. I’m like you’re like the ultimate bad guy that they would hate everything about you. Like, you look weird and you don’t drink.

CM Punk: She came up with the whole idea. She’s like you should X your hands.

Natalie Slater: Back when like Punk bands used to play in bars a lot, that was mostly what the venues were, so when they were all ages shows, they would put x’s on anybody who was underage, so they would know not to serve them. So, like when the whole straight edge movement came about and there were like actual straight edge bands and people started kind of like adapting it as a lifestyle, they kept the x as like a sign of solidarity.

CM Punk: And I was just like, you’re a genius. My name is CM Punk and I am straight edge. That means I’m drug free. I’m alcohol free. And i’m better than each and every single one of you here today.

Chris Hero: They just loved it. You could never have to worry about the crowd being into the match because he had such a polarizing personality. Either you loved him or you hated him.

CM Punk: I enjoyed wrestling Chris Hero. Chris Hero liked wrestling me and it was just one of those things. We had chemistry.

IWA Announcer: This, quite possibly, could be the most significant feud in IWA History.

Chris Hero: We didn’t really have to communicate verbally at all. It was just I knew what he did. He knew what I did and it just worked.

CM Punk: Last night, in the barn, and Hero and I were doing a Tables, Ladders and Chairs Match.

IWA Color Commentator: They know each other like the back of their hands.

CM Punk: And my idea was I literally wanted to bring the whole barn down.

IWA Color Commentator: He just speared him through the wall. I know this our last night in the building, guys, but I dnd’t know we were going to tear the thing down.

CM Punk: I came up with the dueling rafters because I was literally trying to rip the barn down because I thought, what a way to go out.

Colt Cabana: It was nuts and the people were so into it. The stuff that they did in that match was magic for that crowd that was there.

Chris Hero: Just as it was going on, you know, we were kind of hitting everything.

Ace Steel: Right on the money, I mean they clicked.

IWA Announcer: They’re personifying what wrestling is all about right here, what the heart, what kind of heart it takes. They are tearing each other to shreds over that title.

CM Punk: At that time, it was the first time I experienced what I call magic. In the ring, I knew that what we were doing was good based on the fact that I could feel how captivated everybody who was watching was. There was thing tangible energy in the air. It’s magic. I had magic with Chris Hero that night. Definitely.

Chris Hero:  Everything aligned properly that night for us. And because of that match, that tape had gotten it sent out everywhere and people bought the tape etc. That kind of launched us as far as, OH! CM Punk and Chris Hero, who are these guys? And it was very instrumental in us getting opportunities.

And then, it was like Punk and Hero in Detroit, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia or whatever. So, we kind of like did the loop and every match would be just a little bit longer, you know, 40 minutes, 50 minutes, we had an hour draw and then, you know what? How about as an extra attraction to the match, let’s have a match, two out of the three falls with a 90-Minute Time Limit.

IWA Announcer: Over an hour and a half of some of the most brutal hard hitting wrestling high flying and technical wrestling you’ve ever seen.

Daniel Bryan: This is the first time I remember hearing on the independents these guys do an hour long matches and stuff. I was like, whoa!

CM Punk: I became obsessed with old school pro wrestling. And the champion would travel around all different territories and he would wrestle 60 minutes.

Colt Cabana: That was a big thing for Punk. He wanted to be the Iron Man. That was one of his unnamed nicknames, the Iron Man of Professional Wrestling.

CM Punk: I thought I was good, you know? I really thought I was good. And then, I got in the ring with Eddie Guerrero and I was like, holy crap am I bad. I mean that was a big step up in competition and that was a big test, but it gave me that attainable goal.

Ace Steel: If you’re talking about confidence level, set new heights climbing the ladder, Eddie helped him get to that.

Joey Mercury: Throughout the midwest, he was building up a good reputation as an incredibly hard worker, excellent on the microphone, fearless and unapologetically confident.

CM Punk: I am the greatest independent wrestler in the country today.

Joey Mercury: I didn’t liked him, but I respected him. He was smug and arrogant. He wasn’t always the best in the world, but he always believed he was.

IWA Announcer: CM Punk totting all the gold. He’s IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Champion, Light Heavyweight Champion.

Colt Cabana: And then all of a sudden, buzz starts going around. People started hearing about this. Tape trading became really popular. People knew who CM Punk was through reading the internet, through reading dirt sheets, through reading PWI, the wrestling magazine.

IWA Announcer: CM Punk, Dave (Prazak), correct me if i’m wrong, is only in his second year.

Dave Prazak: Second year, but he’s still one of the best damn wrestlers in this promotion, if the not the country, today. Only 23 years old is CM Punk.

Curt Hawkins: I mean I was in High School, you know, i’ve started digging independent wrestling because I knew what I wanted to do was to be a pro wrestler and what it was going to take to be a  pro wrestler. So, I started looking at independents and who was doing well there and like how that all works and he was the king. A lot of times, the indie guys don’t get enough promo time, but he always stood out. And I just became a huge fan of his, like obsessed.

CM Punk: Watch me because I’m CM Punk. Watch me because I am straight edge. Watch me because I am better than you.

Lars: I’m like a fan of indie wrestling. I’ve watched all kinds of wrestling, Japanese Wrestling, Lucha, American Wrestling, and he was making waves.

CM Punk Speaking To The IWA Crowd: Each and every single one of you, including everybody in the back or standing in the ring. Anybody that came out of that threshold gave their blood, their sweat, their tears, put their life on the line, we put each other’s lives in our hands each and every single time, we’re in this ring. And whether you like me or you hate me or you love me, we do it for each one of you. IWA Chants Break Out.

CM Punk Arrives To Ring of Honor: I ended up in Ring of Honor. The booker, at that time, Gabe Sapolsky, called me and Colt Cabana and wanted the CM Punk/Colt Cabana match that everyone else had probably already seen a dozen times because we’ve been wrestling each other every day for probably two years. That was in 2002.

Colt Cabana: We were traveling all over the world. We’re wrestling the independents. That was the big buzz and then this new company came up, Ring of Honor, and it was based off of all the stars of the independent scene in one building for one promotion. We were making a little bit of buzz on a bigger stage, not a huge stage, but a bigger stage than the barn we were doing in Kentucky.

CM Punk: I learned a lot here. I figured if this was the level I would, you know, highest level I would get to, i’ll try to learn as much as I can. So, I was trying to learn behind the scene stuff and I was really paying attention to small details and stuff that nobody else really was at that time.

Daniel Bryan: He fit in great, but Punk was interesting because Punk, although he’s a very good wrestler, what he brought to Ring of Honor was actually more of, not sports entertainment, but hard hitting interviews. Punk was wrestling guys like Raven, because all these older guys who are good at interviews and stuff, they wanted to work with him. His interviews were so fresh and so exciting.

CM Punk Promo on Raven: And since day one at Ring of Honor where fighting spirt is supposed to be revered, things aren’t supposed to be this way. I’d shake your hand like a normal man, but see the truth is I don’t respect you. I hate you. I hate you for everything you’ve pissed away, everything I scraped and I clawed for that I haven’t even earned yet, that you got handed it to you and you flushed it down the toilet for what? For Pills? For Booze? For Alcohol? For Women?

CM Punk: I had a huge rivalry with Raven and, actually, I credit Raven to being the first guy to actually sit me down and teach me a couple of things. You know, it wasn’t just go out there and do whatever you want to do. You know, explained why we did or didn’t do certain things. Me and Him, had a pretty good rivalry. I mean I remember a lot of Cage Matches and Dog Collar Matches and some brutal, brutal violent hardcore stuff.

ROH Announcer: I don’t think i’ve ever seen a feud boil to this level as we’ve seen the feud of Raven and CM Punk.

Colt Cabana: Ring of Honor was built on pure wrestling and those were the first two to kind of breakout. It’s a storytelling mode and they told great stories.

ROH Announcer: This is definitely one of the top feuds in Ring of Honor history, if not the top feud.

Colt Cabana: They did, I think, great business for Ring of Honor.

Daniel Bryan: By 2004, all of a sudden, Punk is a major player and he had these series of matches with Samoa Joe where they did a one-hour match and then they did a second-hour match and then they did a third match. All of them did good business and all of them were amazing matches.

Lars: He has this feud that was amazing, and then he proved that he can wrestle.

ROH Announcer: This match is easily, by far, the longest, single World Title Match in ROH History and this crowd in Dayton has yet to sit down.

CM Punk On His Rivalry with Samoa Joe: We just had a chemistry. It’s a chemistry I have with very few guys, you know, Cabana being one of them and Joe being another one. And at that point in our career, we were just, I mean we were young and we were hungry and hell bent on literally saying that we, this is the best wrestling company in the world bar none, and we were set out to prove it.

ROH Color Commentator: We are seeing the evolution of two great wrestlers do their absolute zenith.

Colt Cabana: Those matches were Epic. They go down in history as some of the great matches, really, you know, in the last 25 years.

ROH Announcer: An absolutely incredible display of wrestling ability, of athleticism, of endurance, and most of all, of courage.

Lars: When I watch that match, I was like, best match i’ve ever seen.

ROH Color Commentator: It’s the wrestling trilogy of the 21st century, CM Punk-Samoa Joe.

Curt Hawkins: Punk and Samoa Joe matches have pretty much put Ring of Honor on the map because the vibe they’ve created, you know, amongst the wrestling community, you know, the internet and everybody, you had to see these.

ROH Announcer: CM Punk, in a lot of ways, even above the title, has been the face of Ring of Honor.

CM Punk: My mindset during these matches with Joe, I was happy where I was. You got to understand, at that time, I was working, I was training guys Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday, I was wrestling in Nashville. Thursday, I was training guys. And then Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I was on the road wrestling and Ring of Honor was my 100 % priority.

I was making a very comfortable living and that was always my ultimate goal. So, I wasn’t trying to go anywhere else, you know? It wasn’t until a few months later when, you know, I felt like I did everything, I conquered everything, I told all my stories. I get very bored and I’m goal oriented. So, once I do one thing, I need to move to the next level. The only other place that i’ve never ever been was WWE.

CM Punk On Departing Ring of Honor: I remember walking here one day, I knocked on Gabe’s office and he looked up and I just had this look on my face and he just looked right at me and he said, you signed, didn’t you?  And then, I laid out this my brain child. I said, here’s what we’re going to do.

It’s going to leak that I was offered a contract or I signed with WWE. So, let’s use that. We use the internet to our benefit, right? They’re going to let me finish up and then I already talk to them and the only people who know that were them and us. Nobody else had any clue. Once news broke that I signed, it was, oh, so the next show is going to be CM Punk’s last show. And everyone came out to say goodbye to CM Punk.

Colt Cabana: Everyone assumed he’d lost the match and lost the title and he won it. And he got on the mic and he cuts one of his famous promos.

CM Punk Heel Turn in 2005: This belt in the hands of any other man is just a belt. In my hands, it becomes power. Just like this microphone, in the hands of any of the boys in the back, it’s just a microphone. You put in the hands of a dangerous man like myself and it becomes a Pipe Bomb.

Curt Hawkins: Oh my god, I was there alive again in New Jersey when he won the title and then to swerve them at the end, i’m like, what a prick! Like everyone, you know, only he could pull that off and it was like, it was unbelievable.

CM Punk: I am the devil himself and all of you, stupid, mindless people fall for it. Some of the fondest times in my career, man, just being able to manipulate people, you know, everyone always seem to know everything and pride themselves on being a smart fan, and yet nobody had a clue.

Curt Hawkins: And I think the best part was just the people think they’re so smart, and myself included, you know, you think you know but they kept swerving you. I was like, man, what is going on? Pretty Cool.

CM Punk: I legitimately signed my WWE contract on the title. It’s hilarious. Kiss my ass goodbye. So, I figured we’d wrap up the story in Dayton and actually have the farewell match in Chicago. I wrestled Colt Cabana and I don’t think I was ready.

I loved this place because it was the first time I saw a lot of my hard work pay off and I saw a lot of other people’s hard work, not only inspire me, but everybody else. And I was proud of this place. And as the time crept up on me, I started getting more and more emotional. That last night, it was a pretty emotional night not just for me, I mean for everybody.

ROH Announcer: And I’ve got to admit, i’m tearing up right now. There’s not a dry eye in the house.

CM Punk: I mean people in the crowd, grown men in the crowd are crying, you know and you’re wrestling your best friend.

Colt Cabana: It was a fun match. It was, you know, it’s what we have been doing, you know, probably over 200-300 matches together or against each other at that time and now he is moving on to a different chapter in his life and to have that match in front of that crowd, it got emotional at the end and it was special. It was a great way to cap off the end of the summer of Punk and watch him go into his new chapter and his new life.

CM Punk: I run because it’s the only thing you can do by yourself to kind of get away from everybody and from a working out standpoint, you know, I don’t need a spotter. It’s like me, a pair of shoes, and an iPod and I hit it. It’s fun. It’s challenging to me.

Chris Brannan (WWE Doctor): I see changes, especially recently, with him. I think he changed his diet around. You see the transition. You see how he’s changing his physique and his range of emotions, I think, is increased because of that.

CM Punk: What i’ve done to kind of change my body and get into the shape i’m in now, I think 90% of it is diet. At the beginning of the year, I cold turkey quit all meat. You would think that I might be able to eat if it’s named after me, but I still can’t eat it. And I just try to eat more whole foods, more raw foods. I can’t eat anything.

Kofi Kingston: He went, literally, went home for Christmas, came back and he was like, yeah, you know, i’m not going to eat anymore. I was like, what are you talking about? Like, this is what we do after the matches. There’s nothing else open besides like McDonald’s and Wendy’s and fast food and you’re going to try to be a vegetarian now? Alright. Okay. Well, we’ll see. If he says he’s going to do something, he’s going to do it and he’s done it. He took meat completely out of his diet.

CM Punk: Who orders a Veggie Burger at a ball game? I’ll do extreme things like if I feel like I need to cut up more, I’ll do a juice fast. You know, it cleans you out. You’re not eating anything, so your body is not digesting fiber, so your body uses energy for other stuff. You sleep better. You workout better. You get everything you need from all the vegetables. Vegetables and fruits are just straight nutrients go straight in your body-straight in your blood.

Kofi Kingston:  Diet is so important. I guess, you know, his big thing was that he wanted to make a change in his body and it’s definitely shown. You know, he’s a lot leaner and he feels better than ever.

CM Punk: Lifestyle change, man. It’s just such a far cry from where I was when I got into the WWE. When I got shipped off to OVW trying to be as big as I could because I figured I was coming to The Land of Giants.

Colt Cabana: At one point, he was like 240 and he was just like, I got to get big. That’s what they want. They want big guys, so I got to get big. And then he just, he was this big balloon of a wrestler and it’s like, that’s not your frame.

CM Punk: A ton of food and a whole bunch of heavyweights and I was sent to Louisville, Kentucky and I really didn’t want to be there. So the situation was kind of like dark cloud and negative.

Paul Heyman: I first met CM Punk when he walked into the doors of OVW in Louisville, Kentucky. He walked in with a real chip on his shoulder and he was pissed beyond belief that he had been relegated to the developmental area. Punk was the top guy for Ring of Honor, which at that time was run by my protege, Gabe Saplosky, and Gable would always get on the phone and tell me, this guy has it all.

This guy is so brilliant. This is guy is so talented. So, when Punk was signed by WWE, I was salivating at the opportunity to work with him, but I figured there’s no way his coming to OVW. This guy is going to be on top on Raw in no time flat. And nobody in WWE knew what to do with him because nobody ever really understood what they had. They just signed a guy that had some buzz.

OVW Announcer: CM Punk has got all the tools. He’s a former Ring of Honor Pure Champion.

The Miz: What made CM Punk the top guy at OVW at that time, he was respect by everybody. When he starts talking about wrestling. and how to help you or bad things and good things about your work in the ring, you listen because people want to know how to get better and if you can explain to them and elaborate to them how to get better, then people want to be around you. And if you’re in the ring and you can make someone look better than they really are, people want to work with you. And everybody wanted to work with CM Punk.

OVW Announcer: Talk about a young man who has walked in here and made a name for himself, i’m talking about Punk. Some of these people hate him, some of these people love him, but every one of them has to respect what he’s done here in OVW.

Paul Heyman: I actually got scolded several times when I was in OVW for writing, why isn’t anybody from Raw or SmackDown drafting this guy immediately?

Michael Hayes: When Paul Heyman was down kind of really taking the kids along and tutoring them down in OVW, we all heard a lot about CM Punk and what Paul Heyman was doing with him with a very high success rate. Of course, when Paul tells you this, you take it with a grain of salt because Paul is very good at embellishing and promoting and i’m not knocking Paul for that. That’s Paul.

Paul Heyman: You’ve got a main eventer on your hands down here. I’m having the time of my life working with him, but hello! Would somebody like to put this guy on television? And I would get memos saying he doesn’t even belong on OVW Television.

Michael Hayes: Paul thought that he was the next Stone Cold or the next big star, I should say, and I think that hurt CM Punk quite a bit to tell you the truth. First of all, Paul never ever wants to go with the flow. He always wants to go against the grain. So, knowing Paul, is he taking somebody that’s average and he’s thinking in his mind that he’s going to make him better than average and it’s just more about Paul than it is CM Punk and, obviously, it turn out that was not the case.

The Miz: CM Punk always had that special something that you knew he was going to be good.

CM Punk: You cannot stop my legacy. You don’t have the fire inside that I have.

The Miz: He’s the type that if he’s not good at something or even if he’s just okay at it, that’s not good enough. He wants to be the best in the world and he wanted to know everything there is to do in the WWE as well as the wrestling business in general.

Paul Heyman: Every week, I gave all the talent in OVW the opportunity to come by, sit down and talk about the show with me. First guy in the door every single week, CM Punk. Last guy out the door every single Tuesday night, CM Punk.

CM Punk: The chance I got to work with Paul Heyman was amazing. And since I figured at that time and I was told at that time I was never going to be called up for television, I was going to make my time in OVW worth it. I would help write television with Paul every Tuesday night when he flew in. I would stay late Wednesday night and learn how to edit the show with Danny Davis and Paul Heyman. Paul taught me how to time out a TV Show, a skill that I dare I say nobody on this side of the camera i’m on knows how to do.

Paul Heyman: He wanted it. He had the ambition. Question after question after question after question and he was just absorbing this knowledge.

CM Punk: They taught me a lot, not just inside, but outside the ring because I figured, you know, i’m here. I might as well learn. While everyone else was out partying or, you know, trying to sleep, I was just, I was awake for six months, just six months straight.

OVW Announcer: What an amazing competitor this man, CM Punk, is. His ability to turn adversity into an opportunity.

CM Punk: I love going to work, you know? I did a complete 180 where it’s like I hated being in Louisville and then I turned that around and I made it a place I love to go to.

OVW Announcer: Do you hear the crowd here at Davis Arena? CM Punk! CM Punk! Screaming at the top of their lungs.

CM Punk On Paul Heyman Being His Mentor: The only reason I wasn’t messed with or given a new name or told to wear new gear or repackaged to something i’m not, it’s Paul Heyman. I owe my career to Paul Heyman. 100 %. You know, everything I did prior to WWE, you know, I would say, I couldn’t have done it without me and as weird as that sounds, yes, there were promoters who booked me and friends who helped me along the way, but like CM Punk was always my vision and predominantly 100 % me.

And then, when I got to OVW, I mean he helped me navigate the land mines, you know? And when ECW got rebooted under Paul Heyman, I was under his umbrella and he would not have me called up under any other name and he was telling all these people that I saw/say that oh, he’s never going to be on Raw. He’s never going to be on SmackDown. We’re never going to call him up. We’re going to eventually get rid of him. And then, Paul was like, we’re doing this ECW thing. Give him to me. Let me have him and I will show all of you.

CM Punk on The Transition from OVW to ECW, Plus Having a Tour Bus : It literally goes against every fiber of my being, but it’s a lifesaver and it’s a career extended. Because the way I came up, you jammed as many people in a car as you could, you drove across hell and creation for a hot dog and a handshake and it just goes with the whole Punk Rock, do it yourself credo and the roots of where I came from, it was very independent and, you know, you slept on floors. You slept at rest stops. You slept in the car on top of other people. So, to have this, this is a very lavish, almost to me, unnecessary, extravagant sort of way to travel. It’s an investment in my future. And it’s an investment in my knees, and my elbows, and my sanity, really.

I’m as hungry now as I was then. The difference, obviously, in pay scale, is tremendously different. So, when I started on the road, when I got called up from OVW to ECW, the thought was, okay, this isn’t going to last forever, you know? I need to make as much money as I can in a short amount of time and I need to save that money. Because it’s not really about what you make. It’s what you save. There was already a group of OVW guys that have been called up. I was familiar with them, so I would travel with them. I mean I knew what I was getting into and I was prepared for it. I’ve been backstage before. You know, I just jumped in with both feet.

Joey Styles: Welcome to the world premiere of ECW.

Kofi Kingston: A new platform to introduce new characters and, you know, for CM Punk, it really kind of gave him a chance to showcase his skills on a different level and really be like the, I don’t want to say big fish in the small pond, but obviously, ECW compared to Raw and SmackDown was, I guess, the small pond.

CM Punk ECW Vignette: Don’t let these tattoos fool you. I’m straight edge. I’m a man of great discipline. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs. My addiction is wrestling.

Paul Heyman: To me, the next generation of ECW Superstars started with CM Punk. He was my first draft pick. He was the first guy I wanted from the developmental system. I wanted CM Punk to be the superstar, the wrestler, the personality that inherited the legacy and brought that legacy forward into a new generation for ECW. They (WWE Universe) embraced it and they let the world know you’re witnessing the debut of a brand new star.

Taz: This crowd react to see that he’s getting a pretty strong response from the ECW fanbase.

Chaleen: I remember the first time I saw him, it was ECW.  I was a Freshman in College. I was in the dorms and I sprinted down my hallway and I knocked on every single door and i’m like, my brother is on TV. So, I had my whole wing of the norm like in my room and spilling out into the hallway to watch him. It was so surreal to see him doing that.

Joey Styles: Huge opportunity for CM Punk who has competed in Japan and Europe, but is now competing on worldwide television.

Paul Heyman: He was hitting on every level and the audience knew it, and Punk knew it, I knew it, and no one else would accept it because it wasn’t supposed to happen that way. The attention was supposed to be on other people. And the fact that CM Punk was getting this momentum almost rubbed everybody the wrong way.

John Cena: He built a name for himself like, I guess, the last territorial wrestler.

Michael Hayes: He had a reputation from being one of The King of The Indies, if you will.

John Cena: It’s just you kind of hear about these guys. The stories become bigger and more overwhelming and, you know, you’re always a critic. So, when you finally see the product, it never lives up to the hype and that’s not a dig at him. That’s just like, oh, you got to see this. It’s the greatest. It’s the newest thing. And then when you see it, you’re like, ehh? And it wasn’t that he wasn’t good or wasn’t polished. He is, but when you come in with the legend of John Henry’s Hammer and you can’t live up to that. So immediately, I became like, Huh? Who’s this guy? Is that it?

Paul Heyman: No one got CM Punk. He was different. He was unique and they didn’t get him.

Scott Armstrong: You look at the dude and think, oh, this is the guy who’s going to park our cars or this is the guy who’s going to steal our cars, one of the two. But when he puts his gear on, he just transforms. He becomes somebody else.

CM Punk: My goal was to just show them, show everybody that I was the real deal, you know? To me, my hard work would outshine everything and I would bust my ass just like I did in OVW, just like I did in Ring of Honor and just like I did everywhere else i’ve been and eventually, you know, hard work and perseverance pays off and the cream rises at the top.

Daniel Bryan:  If you would’ve asked me can he be a star in the WWE, I would’ve said YES! Can he be the face of the WWE? I was like, there’s no way. It’s not that he doesn’t have the ability, he’s not what they’re looking for.

Michael Hayes: CM Punk is not and was not at that time, the typical WWE prototype. What we usually look for in our superstars from size stature, to the way CM Punk looked, you know, with the tattoos and the kind of scruffy look which of course didn’t bother me, but I would say that there were some higher ups (chomp chomp) in the organization that would say that’s not my poster boy for this company. And that hindered his growth as far as from a company standpoint. But it never hindered his heart. Probably in the long run, best thing that ever happened to him.

Jim Ross: Paul was always very high on CM Punk. Now, there were some in Talent Relations at that time that have actually contemplated cutting Punk, that Punk was on, you know, endangered species list. And if we don’t see some improvement or if he doesn’t do things differently that he might be on the list of thanks for coming and best of luck on you future endeavors. Heyman always fought for Punk because Paul felt that this guy had something special.

CM Punk: My experience in ECW, I think for the first six months, was awesome, you know? But I had Paul Heyman there. I had Paul Heyman holding my hand, walking me through the minefield. And then, I think it was December 4th, Paul Heyman, you know, quit or got fired, depending on who you talk to, and from then on, it was full on, ok, this isn’t going to last very much longer mode. But it didn’t stop me from working hard.

Triple H: Shawn and I had talked about it. You know, he was a guy that we thought had a lot of potential. And Punk kind of always had that, I think a little bit of the attitude that was missing from a lot of guys. And I don’t mean attitude in bad attitude or anything else. I just mean in the, hey, i’m going to do this whether you want me to do it or not. Like, I’m going to go take this. This is mine to take.

Tazz: There’s no doubt about it. CM Punk is relentless.

Joey Styles: CM Punk earned this championship opportunity, John Morrison, the champion.

Tazz: A very focused, a very driven athlete is the challenger, CM Punk.

CM Punk: Once again, it was one of those things where they looked at John. They looked right through me and they said John is our guy. He’s going to be the man. Awesome!

Tazz: This guy has got everything you need to be a star.

CM Punk On His Rivalry With John Morrison: I love Morrison to death, but he wasn’t ready at that time. I’m not saying I was. I wasn’t the perfect choice by any means, but I thought I was way more ready than he was. And then me and him proceeded to have some of the worst garbage, you call them matches, on PPV. So, I think we had three straight where it was just, we were victim of time constraints and just about anything else and both of us being young and stupid and trying to cram 15 minutes of stuff in 5 minutes and the matches weren’t good.

They weren’t good at all. My last shot at John Morrison and the ECW Title was in Cincinnati and I remember it extremely well because it’s still, to this day, I think it’s one of my best matches ever. For whatever reason, me and him just clicked that night and it was one of those things where we just went out there, and I don’t like to use the word, “Oh! It was magical.” But during the match, I was feeling it like we got something here and eventually beat him with the GTS and, you know, the rest, they say, is history.

Joey Styles: CM Punks’ Long Journey To The ECW Championship has come to fruition.

CM Punk: And I won that title and I grabbed on to it and I remember thinking immediately, you know, because the paranoia and everything, “Well, this isn’t going to last long. You know, like this as good as it’s going to get. Alright. I win.”

CM Punk: This is nuts. You know, I’m at Wizard World. My first job when I was 14 or 15, I worked at a comic shop and I remember the first issue when wizard came out. I was able to meet the face behind the name. You know, it’s pretty mind blowing. Holy Crap! Mr. Stan Lee, how are you? Punk takes a picture with Stan Lee and Chris Hemsworth. Very cool. Very cool experience. And the fans, they were excellent. I signed autographs for I think four hours. Took pictures with over 500 people.

CM Punk Fan #1 : Meeting him was the greatest experience of my life!

CM Punk: The Q&A, I was blown away by it. A lot of smart, intelligent questions and I had fun.

CM Punk Fan #2: He’s not the prototype of a guy from the ’80s, huge hulking guy. He’s just an everyday gut that does something amazing.

CM Punk: It’s humbling. I fee like it’s full circle, you know? My first job is in a comic shop and nw people are paying to finding a room to listen to me talk. It’s been a great experience.

CM Punk Fan #3: Today, I’m dressed like CM Punk. We’re here. We’re dressed like super heroes, and in a way, Punk is a little bit like a super hero. You know, super heroes are cool. They’re smart. They’re strong. They’re bad ass and Punk is ll of those things.

CM Punk: I love the art. I love the stories even more. The characters, I think, standout to me, you know? There’s a lot of characters I can identify with like, maybe say batman. He’s The Dark Knight. He’s maybe not the nicest guy in the world, but he certainly lives by a code. It kind of sounds like me.

I’m certainly not the nicest guy in the world, but I am straight edge so I do have morals and beliefs. I feel like i’m constantly fighting, whether it’s opponents in the ring or the office to get what I want or to get what I need, to get what the people want, it’s a constant fight just like a super hero is constantly fighting, whether it’s forces of evil or, you know, whatever you want to say. The fight is constant. It’s 100 %.

CM Punk on WrestleMania 24 : When I first got called up, obviously, it was, to me, just a matter of time before I got released and it seemed to be everybody’s feeling towards the subject of CM Punk. You know, “Oh,  he’s an indie guy. He’s just going to get released.”

So, you know, and i got my one WrestleMania under my belt and I kept reaching these goals of where I would tell myself like, well, okay, you know, if I get fired tomorrow, you know, at least I did this or at least I experienced that. So, going into that WrestleMania and winning the Money in the Bank, it was, you know, to me, it was like, okay, maybe this is the start of something

Jim Ross: The briefcase is hanging high above the center of the ring. Inside the briefcase is a contract. The contract means you could challenge any world champion, any time, any place, anywhere.

Michael Cole: Remember, every man that has cashed in the Money in the Bank has won a World Title.

Jim Ross: CM Punk just took his game to new heights.

Colt Cabana: It was the first time, I think, at least in my mind, as his friend, saying, WOW! They’re going to go with him. You know, after all this time and all the struggle and these battles of you’re not corporate enough or whatever, but the idea that he still loves wrestling so much. He finally won a little bit of an notch.

Curt Hawkins: I remember that was the first time someone won the briefcase and there was that kind of general feeling of like, oh, well Punk is not, he’s not championship material. You know, he’s going to be the first guy who doesn’t cash it in and doesn’t win the title and looks like a fool.

Jerry Lawler: Oh, wait a minute. Uh-oh.

Michael Cole: CM Punk is doing it. He’s cashing in Money in the Bank. The GTS. The Cover. Punk has done it. Punk is the champion. Punk’s the champion.

CM Punk: It was pretty insane. It was, you know, another moment where I was like, okay, this is it. I’m never looking back. I’ve made it to the top. I just won the World Title. This is Ric Flair’s Title. This is Dusty Rhodes’ Title.

Lars: It’s kind of a rad thing, to see that your boy is now, here’s this punk rock kid who probably never had a chance, to be honest, and he made a chance for himself.

CM Punk: I was ready to take on the world. I was like, okay. Here it is. Here it comes. This is it. You know, i’m going to kick every single door now and you know i’m balling up my fist and swing it to the world and here we go. CM Punk is on top. I’m going to show people what I can do.

Colt Cabana: Punk was now the champion, but what’s funny is he wasn’t the man still in the company. He wasn’t the golden boy. He was like this little outcast champion that, you know, that seemed like true wrestling fans knew. Well, that was their champion and then there was, John Cena, the machine’s champion.

Michael Hayes: He finally reached in his mind his dream I am now World Champion and he got no perks. And the very least thing he got was the proper recognition of being the champion. As a matter of fact, a lot of people thought he tarnished the championship. I would pretty much say most of the locker room at that time, really thought it was the wrong move. 

Scott Armstrong: When you go back over time with the Ric Flair’s and Triple H or those guys, and you look at that guy in a three-piece suit with his championship in his arm and you say, WOW, Man! He represents a company. And I just didn’t see Punk as that guy. He’s not meant to be the guy in a three-piece suit with a championship in his arm. That’s not who CM Punk is. He’s not the norm. 

Michael Cole: For the first time in recent memory, I believe the champion is actually the underdog.

Triple H: He wasn’t positioned as the guy. He wasn’t positioned as, you know, i’m a real, this will go behind the scenes a lot, so I don’t know if you guys would use this or not. I’m a real big believer in the title doesn’t make the guy. The guy makes the title. And I think it was kind of like the championship was trying to make him and I don’t think it works that way. I think it’s the opposite. I think it’s the guys that are the most successful, the guys that have a long-term value in that role are the guys that are there, not because of that championship. They get that championship because they’re there. 

CM Punk: I was, you know, competing for real estate on Raw with guys like John Cena, Triple H, Shawn Michaels and it just seemed odd to me that, you know, to me, the focal point should most always be the title. But i’m old school, you know? To me, the title means you’re the best. It means you’re on top. Everybody should be coming after what you have and it just wasn’t presented in that light. 

Michael Hayes: Well, I think at that time, there were some rivalries going on that superseded the title. Sometimes, there are stars that are bigger than the title. It’s just having the title was not their drawing factor. Their characters and their personas and how they connect with the audience was their drawing factor. And it was almost like the World Title on Punk, at that time, was like, uh, that’s cool. What else is going on? And that had to be really tough on him. 

CM Punk: It’s just one of those deflating things. It’s just like I have this title. I don’t, you know, almost looking around like you’re quasi invisible and you shouldn’t be. You’re the champion.

Colt Cabana: I was excited about that long run he was going to have and the opportunity to travel the world and represent the company and then it just kind of got taken away from him.

CM Punk & Randy Orton Backstage Interview at Unforgiven 2008: I think since i’ve became champion, the odds have been, obviously, stacked against me, but it’s been like that my entire life. The chances Punk would be a whole hell of a lot greater if the guy holding the championship wasn’t an absolutely fluke. See, i’m proving people wrong so you and everybody else who thinks i’m a fluke. Punk gets destroyed by Legacy. 

Mike Adamle: As a result of what happened moments ago, it appears that CM Punk may not be able to compete.

CM Punk On Being Stripped Out Of The World Heavyweight Championship:  You know, to be told a day of, I was excited. I was ready to go out, you know, Cleveland and give them a show and I was excited about the concept of the Scramble Match and all that stuff and I was ready to go and the I get there and they tell me, you’re not on the PPV. It was like, okay. Alright. And Why? Oh, we’re going to do this thing. Randy is going to kick you in the head. The Chris Jericho/Shawn Michaels program needs the title. And I was just like, okay. I mean just very deflating. Very disappointing, you know? I mean it just sucked. In a word, it sucked. 

Lars: Seeing like here’s this guy’s potential, why aren’t you running with this dude? You’re giving him all the opportunity and then, you know, when he wins the belt and then he doesn’t even have a match like lose the belt? It’s like, are you serious? Like, why would you push this guy and then kill him? What are you doing? What’s the thought process? 

Triple H: There’s a lot of factors and I think kind of sometimes, it’s a little demoralizing to a talent. You know, this is tough to understand. Like you hear, that your whole life, you dreamed about how you’re going to become the champion, if you want to be good in this business, you’re going to become the WWE Champion and then it’s, well, you’re going to become WWE Champion, but really not really kind of.

We’re going to give this to you and you’re not really going to be the guy and you’re not going to be the feature guy and you’re not going to be opening segment or last segment. You’re gonna be the guy that has the title in the middle of the card somewhere. We’re not changing your position. We’re just giving you this to hold for a little bit and then taking it away. It’s a tough thing. 

Jerry Lawler:  The dyanmic duo of CM Punk and Kofi Kingston.

CM Punk on Tagging with Kofi Kingston: That was a blast and it was, to me, back to having fun. I learned real quick that i’m not going to be able to make everybody happy. I’m probably going to piss a lot of people off. If I can stay true to myself and least have fun while i’m doing it, then, you know, it’s a win-win. 

Michael Cole: Punk and Kingston have done it. They’re the new, World Tag Team Champions.

Kofi Kingston: For me, being in the ring with him, I got really lucky when we won the championship. So now, we’re traveling together and i’m getting all types of knowledge from him. And watching him in the ring, I had the best seat in the house. 

Michael Cole: CM Punk is the number one contender. 

Jerry Lawler: The future opponent of William Regal and the Intercontinental Title. 

William Regal: The rivalry that I had with CM Punk was probably the best thing that i’ve done on WWE Television as far as wrestling quality. 

CM Punk: I developed a relationship with him prior to me even signing with WWE and he’s one of the guys that believed in me from the start and he said he wanted to work with me and that’s a hell of a stamp of approval and I had a lot of fun getting the crap beat out of me every single day. 

Michael Cole: One thing we’ve learned about CM Punk over the year is that he’s a survivor. 

Ace Steel: Punk and Regal getting to work together was just great to watch. It was just nice and stiff. 

Michael Cole: You know you’re going to be a fight when you’re in there with the Intercontinental Champion. 

Lars: Him and Regal had these great amazing matches. 

Jerry Lawler: CM Punk, New Intercontinental Champion in his hometown of Chicago. 

CM Punk: It’s another one of those i’m still fighting for real estate sort of thing. Here I was looking around at everybody, like okay, I was the Heavyweight Champion. You know, I was that guy. And then, hey, I was the Tag Team Champion and we’re still not doing anything.  And it’s like they move me on and now I was the IC Champion and they, it was just like, it was still a fight to do anything. 

Michael Cole: Welcome to the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania. And we kick things off with the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. 

CM Punk: I was as shocked as anybody else. 

Michael Cole: Can Punk do it? Punk does it. 

CM Punk: So, my first thought was, oh man. What a rib! This briefcase, you know, I got to carry this thing around. I got to travel with it. 365 days a year, I got to carry this hell of burden and it’s plastered on the side of it, it says, WrestleMania, you know? So, I like can’t hide anywhere. I can’t hide in airports. I can’t hide in restaurants, but I did carry my gear in it. So now, i’m thinking, okay, this is another great opportunity. But surely, i’m going to be the guy that cashes in and loses, you know? Never in my wildest dreams did I guess that, you know, lighting would strike twice. 

Jim Ross: The Go to Sleep Connected. Both legs are hooked and CM Punk.

Todd Grisham: For the second consecutive year, CM Punk has cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and won a championship. 

CM Punk On Not Getting His Hopes Up: I mean about the same if not a little bit less excited, because you know, they’ve already proven their track record, so it’s almost just like, okay. Two-time champion here. Let’s, you know, Hooray! I’m trying to get excited about it and i’ll tell you why I was excited about it. 

CM Punk On Becoming A Bad Guy In WWE:  Earlier in the day I had a meeting, Michael Hayes finds me and says Vince and I need to talk to you. So, I walk in and I sit down and Vince looks at me and he goes, I have a challenge for you. And I’m thinking, great! I love challenges. What do you got for me? He says, we’re eventually going to see if you can run as a heel and i have my reservations, but Michael here thinks you might be able to do it.

Now, i’m insulted. Now, i’m like, i’m literally am sitting down like, are you kidding me? So, he tells me this and once again I go, what’s the challenge? He said I want to see if you can be a heel. I said, Vince, what’s the challenge? Is he fucking with me Michael? What is he doing, you know, I want to see if you can pulls this off. I don’t know. And I was just like, okay. Well, sit back. In three months, i’ll be the best heel in the company. The biggest bad guy you’ve ever seen. Don’t worry. 

Michael Hayes: I think, at first, Vince looked at that and went, I don’t know if he has that within him and I saw that within because I saw a man who was dying to come out and be the guy and he had the perfect guy to do it against in Jeff Hardy. 

CM Punk: I finally got something I could sink my teeth into and that was the most exciting part for me.

CM Punk Promo on Jeff Hardy: You see, now I know why you people love Jeff Hardy so much. It’s because you are all just like him. The reality is none of you have the strength to be straight edge. 

CM Punk On Scripted Promos: That was the first time somebody would hand me. Oh, we wrote your promo Mr. Punk. And they would hand it to me and it was written from somebody else’s perspective about how I view the world and everything like that. Nobody could ever know what’s in my brain and I realize it was up to me. I decided, you know, they put the title on me for a reason. They’ve given me the ball. I need to start doing this stuff myself, you know? It’s the only way to get the job done.

So, from that point on, anytime anybody would hand me something just to prove a point, I would rip it up right in front of them and just throw in the garbage. Sometimes, it’s on the floor. They’d be like, oh, here’s your, i’d be like, hey, thanks a lot (crumpling papers). And yeah, that’s a little harsh, but, you know, I was proving my point. Like I understand that they have a job to do, but you come to me. Find me. We can work on it together. Don’t hand me what you think is in my brain because you’d be wrong 100 % of the time. 

Michael Hayes: There were a couple of times, and I think Punk will tell you this, he can be a real moody prick and that would come out and shine, and not just to the writing team, those guys that he knew he could tear up in front of, you know, whatever they were suggesting that he say, also to me. And even people higher up. You know, he was very opinionated. He knew what he thought he should be saying and doing. It seemed like the more successful Punk got, the more he wanted to control what he was doing and really didn’t want a lot of help from the creative team.

CM Punk Promo On The WWE Universe: The people who cheer for Jeff Hardy are just slaves to the vices associated with his, living in the moment.

CM Punk: You know, honestly, a lot of the ideas, I am not saying they’re all mine, but a lot of the stuff, was stuff that I was doing on the indies because  was doing the straight edge thing for almost a decade already.

CM Punk & Jeff Hardy In-Ring Promo: Jeff you are a dreamer man. A guy like you could never beat me. I’m straight edge.

CM Punk: A lot of it was rehashed from what i’ve done previously but just not such a grander scale. It was a lot more fun. You gravitate towards Jeff because it’s the easy way out. It’s easier to be weak like Jeff because you sure can’t be strong like me.

Colt Cabana: He is a great good guy, but he’s just an amazing bad guy and the first three or four years he was a good guy in WWE, you know, he was a fan favorite and I was just like. “Oh, just wait til he eventually and like it brought him that whole new life.” 

CM Punk: And you can boo all you want. I know why you boo, you know why you boo it’s because I tell the truth and the truth sometime hurts doesn’t it?

Colt Cabana: And that’s where he is the best.

CM Punk: Jeff look at yourself. You’re a joke.

Colt Cabana: He is a great guy. He is great to his friends, true to his friends and there is that crabby side of Punk that we all know, that you all see at the airport, you know, trying to get an autograph.

Jim Ross: We’re seeing the true colors of CM Punk.

Colt Cabana: And that’s real, that comes out on those microphones.

CM Punk: Jeff i have to get rid of you to teach these people the difference between right and wrong. I have to get rid of you so they stop living in your moment and they wake up and they start living in my reality.

CM Punk On Losing The Title To Undertaker:  After the Jeff thing, I thought it was all gang busters, I thought we did great business. I thought we told emotional stories, you know, I thought I more than held up my end of the bargain, you know, and Jeff was leaving and you know, he did me a great favor and I thought man we got all this heat and then they tell me that i’m  just gonna wind up dropping the title to Taker and then I said, “Okay, what am I, you know, rematches, what am I doing after that? They gave back to the old, we don’t know. 

Michael Hayes: When Punk won the title for the second time and had successful run with Jeff and then ran into The Undertaker and I know for a fact that Punk earned The Undertaker’s respect inside the ring which The Undertaker never thought he was going to give to Punk and admitted he was wrong.

Jim Ross: The matches that CM Punk had with The Undertaker validated that CM Punk is absolutely bona fide a WWE Main Event Star. That made CM Punk in my view a made man in WWE.

Michael Hayes: That help Punk’s career a lot and people started looking at him a little differently but not everybody.

CM Punk Describes The Inspiration Behind His Tattoo’s: My first tattoo was the cover of The Operation Ivy Album, Energy and I decided to get one because I thought I was a little bad ass kid and then it all kind of gets blurry because it was just like straight edge, straight edge, straight edge, and I immediately wanted to just dive in head first. I never wanted to have a real job, so I immediately got, I think I was 17 I got a drug free tattoo on my knuckles and then i went all out straight edge rocker on my stomach. Like, I was just all in.

I mean I have so many now that I tell people all the time that i’m a very heart on my sleeve kind of guy. It’s right there, you know, and everything I love and everything I represent and believe in, i’ve tattooed on my skin at some point. I almost feel sorry for everyone who doesn’t have tattoos because to me they don’t believe as strongly as I believe. They don’t have that part in their life. I have tattoos other people have and it’s everybody i love them to death that means something.

We’re family, you know, all of us and I guess the most important one out of all that is the 31. The 31 with the stars. Each star represents one fore Charlie, One for Chez, Cassie and Chaleen. You know, my little sister is my best friend, my brother and the number 31 represents the jersey number. You do not have to be blood to be family. And this is never more evident than, you know, my life, the way I turned out and everything. I have met a lot of good people in wrestling and if I can surround myself with people I love everyday, that to me just makes life easier. 

CM Punk on The Straight Edge Society: So, when it came time for the WWE to tell me that I needed a big guy, I wasn’t believable enough. I was going to wrestle The Undertaker and they said that we weren’t really sure if you could beat up The Undertaker which was, man that was offensive to me and to me there is only one guy for the job and that was Luke Gallows. 

Matt Striker: First disciple, Luke Gallows walks along side his savior, CM Punk.

CM Punk: They want to put me with somebody, why not one of my best friends because he is good, and he’s everything they’re looking for and he’s everything I need. So, let’s do this. And it worked perfectly because he takes the Festus character and you said that CM Punk got him off drugs that’s why he was like that. I think it’s a great partnership.

Matt Striker: Luke Gallows has clarity of mind, clarity of body, and clarity of spirit, all because of the pastor of purity, CM Punk.

CM Punk: And I thought I had the brightest future with that crew. I’m surrounded by all this talent, Gallows, you know, and Serena, and Joey is an excellent worker.

Matt Striker: Joey Mercury is part of the Straight Edge Society.

CM Punk: Me and Joey have known each other, I mean, you know a decade, maybe more.

Joey Mercury: Punk is furiously loyal and he’s gonna hate that i’m saying this. I have been let go from WWE in 2007. At that point, me and Punk have gotten close enough to where we’re riding together. I had a very serious drug and alcohol addiction, you know, i’m rooming with the guy who is straight edge. He really was getting heartbroken and wanted to help me. And, I got fired from WWE and basically I fired myself because they had no choice in the matter. They had tried to help me and I was beyond help at that point.

Fast forward to a year and a half later, I’m starting to get sober for real this time, you know, and Punk was still in contact with me everyday and my house was in foreclosure. Punk said, are you in trouble with your house? And I said I’m gonna lose it. And Punk said, no you’re not, i’m gonna buy your house.

Punk wrote me a check for in the six figures to bail me out and to buy my house. I don’t know if i’m his best friend, but he is my best friend. For what he has done for me. You know, and you fast forward a year past that and you know what Punk said, I want you back and I want you with me. 

CM Punk: He was my friend. So, yeah, I do anything to help out Joey.

Matt Striker: It’s such a holy presence from CM Punk, a man who feels that he can save society from it’s carnival of ills.

CM Punk: Now, there was a lot of stuff that I was getting away with that the office had no clue about. Was I trying to be Wrestling Jesus? Yeah, absolutely. Because it was extremely offensive to a lot of people. Luke Gallows, Joseph Mercury, like I specifically had them named that because they were apostles. Was Serena my Mary Magdalene? 100 % Absolutely. And I think we could have been the biggest thing. 

Kofi Kingston: Having people come out and shave their heads.

CM Punk: Now, what is about to happen is a symbol of commitment against this poisoned society of which I live.

Kofi Kingston: And pledge their allegiance, it was almost like cult.

CM Punk: I would tune in like Slate Saturday Night and watch all the infomercials with Benny Hinn and like all these religious people and it was a really fascinating time. Ladies and gentlemen at home if you feel the need to put your hand on the television screen, you go right ahead of and do that, but I need everybody in this arena and around the world right now to stand up and admit that you are all addicts.

Lars: He was like this Messiah, so like this Fo-Jesus which was touching a lot of people’s, pushing a lot of buttons.

CM Punk House Show Promo: I am the greatest thing to have ever happened to you people! And you know it.

Joey Mercury: I have heard more than one occasion somewhere in the crowd say, he’s the fucking devil.

CM Punk: In Nashville, Tennessee, I had a grandmother who jumped the rail to slap me in the face and the quote was, “You are not Jesus Christ and you will burn in hell for your sins.” That’s exactly what I wanted. I turned right to Gallows and said we did it. We got them. And that was the desired reaction I want. I wanted this emotional, just guttural, just hatred. I wanted people to slash my tires, set my car on fire, chase me out of town with pitchforks and torches. 

Daniel Bryan:  When he was doing the Straight Edge Society, there was nobody, nobody who was getting as much heat from those people as CM Punk was. He was the most hated man in the company.

Michael Hayes: For awhile that thing was very, very hot.

CM Punk: It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that you people boo me because you are apathetic and you feel sorry for yourselves.

Michael Hayes: And Punk embraced it. It was so art imitating life and life imitating art as a leader of that. I mean he was the leader behind the scenes, he was the leader in the ring. Pretty much like everything he does, he’s a controller. He likes to control what’s going on and most successful stars do.

CM Punk SES Pledge: I am the leader of a Straight Edge Society. Make the pledge to stand on my side, one nation under Punk, indivisible with integrity and sobriety for all .

CM Punk On Disbanding Of The Straight Edge Society: I can’t gush enough about the Straight Edge Society. I mean partially because it was 100% me, I created that. That was the brain child of me getting stuck. I main evented SummerSlam and the next PPV was in a dark match against R-Truth and I went to Vince and said that this is unacceptable and I went home and I wrote 14 weeks of TV and the next week I came and threw it on his desk and said that’s what i’m doing, right there, that’s it. I’m not doing this anymore.

I don’t even know if he looked at it. I think just the fact that I was ambitious enough to be like there could have been one coversheet and a bunch of blank pages and he was just like awesome cool, you know whatever and I was kind of tucked away on SmackDown, so I could get away with more. Man, I can’t say enough about it. The Straight Edge Society was awesome.

It should have been more there were a lot of things that led to it’s demise and a lot of those things pissed me off and got me to the point where I was done. That was the last straw. Straight Edge Society fell apart, unraveled, fizzled and die with a slow death. That was it, I was done. I gave them chicken salad and I watched them turn it into chicken shit. Here I was taking everything that they’re giving me and making it gold and I tried to reciprocate it and it just wasn’t happening. 

Michael Hayes: I think when Punk and the SES thing was doing so well and then Punk felt that people were tying to jostle it around and it wasn’t his vision anymore. You know, he did become very disgruntled. Those are things that happened because at the end of the day, no matter what you think, no matter what Punk thinks, no matter what I think, the person that runs this place and owns this place and is responsible for this place will make their decision and that’s they way we’re gonna go.

CM Punk On His Live For Music : I am a huge fan of music and I’m one of those people that listen to all sorts of music. Obviously predominantly punk rock and hardcore. I got heavily into Minor Threat, Operation Ivy, Operation Ivy becomes Rancid and then here we are in Clifton Park in Northern Lights. We’re here to see Rancid today. I am friends with the band which is pretty mind blowing considering, you know, I first got an Operation Ivy album in like the early 90’s and it was after they had already broken up.

I figured out that they formed the new band called Rancid, so like in 1994, I heavily got into Rancid. It turns out that Lars from Rancid is a huge wrestling fan, so when worlds collide about I don’t even know how long ago, we hooked up and meet each other and we’ve been pretty much best friends ever since. I listen to music, I don’t wanna say to escape or to get away because I don’t live in a fantasy world.

I don’t try to run away from anything, but it is very much a way to relax honestly. Anytime i’m frustrated especially with my position in WWE, I throw my headphones on and I could smash a work out. I can go running and just get lost. Forget about it, try to leave stuff at work. A lot of times, it wouldn’t help, but anytime I throw my headphones on and listen to music, I got a place to go. 

CM Punk’s Professional Boiling Point: I was the most pissed off guy in the planet. Frustration level was at a 10 or maybe an 11. I don’t think there was anybody in the company that was more pissed off and more justified, but this is of course this is my opinion. I can detail so many different things, you know, so many straws that broke the proverbial camel’s back.

The big one was Miz being in the main event of WrestleMania 27. There wasn’t a better bad guy in the business than me and to watch somebody literally just get handed this and, you know, I was standing there looking at everybody like, he likes to say, really? That was me standing there like I just didn’t get it and it was an monumental slap in the face to somebody who has much pride as I do.

I just figured that in my world, the best good guy fights the best bad guy at the best show of the year and it was just another time I got passed over. To me there wasn’t really any validation for it. It wasn’t because he worked harder than me, it wasn’t because he looked better than me or he was the better bad guy. Nobody could tell me any good reason as to why I was once again, you know, taking a backseat. 

Michael Hayes: I’ll never forget it was Long Island, New York at The Nassau Coliseum and we were getting really close to the time that Punk’s contract was finishing up. And, I went down and I asked him and he told that I really don’t wanna leave here, I just don’t like the way things are. He said, I’d like to see some change and I think change would be for the better. Sometimes you have to play the hand your dealt. He said, no, I don’t. I don’t have to play anymore at all.

CM Punk: They were trying to get me to sign a contract probably two years out from when my contract expired and I did a solid 12 months of just ignoring them. You know, i’ll talk to you later, I got do this photoshoot, oh, they need me to do this interview, you know, and I would skirt around it and then then probably about a year out I said i’m not interested. Their response was what do you want? And I said, I wanna go home.

Curt Hawkins: I was with every week and I was pretty sure he was gone. I mean he’s sitting there every week, you know. It was like a countdown.

CM Punk: Fed up is an understatement. I was tired, I was sick, I was mad, I was feeling depressed, I was upset, crabby, probably wasn’t too much fun to be around. I’m kind of hard to deal with as it is. Just literally crossing off days on the calendar, counting minutes, counting days.

Kofi Kingston: You know, I remember him saying, it was always stuck with me as he said that I wish I didn’t care. Because he could just come in re-sign a new contract, get paid, and go about his business and live a very comfortable life, but really it’s not about the money for him. It’s really about being able to be that top tier guy.

Daniel Bryan: There are a lot of people who just do this for money, lots of them. You know, there are guys who are hiding in the back right now hoping that they don’t get pick for a Superstars match today because they just like to chill out and earn their money just not do anything, you know. Punk is not one of those guys. He wants to be the guy who’s in 30 minute matches. He wants to be the guy who everybody looks to for advice, for direction. He wants to be the leader.

John Cena: He is the first guy i’ve seen in a long time who wanted walk in the door and own this place. 

CM Punk:  I walked into the building in Las Vegas, the Thomas & Mack Center, I was feeling really liberated like this is it. It was my second to last TV. I walked in and one of the writers came up to me with a big smile on his face because you’re gonna love this. They’re gonna give you the microphone and they want you to air your grievances. And I just looked at him and I was like, surely you can’t be serious .

Colt Cabana:  And he texted me and he’s like well, they said I can say whatever I want and all is he has ever asked for is that microphone. That’s all he has really told me even like five years later, all I want is that microphone, that opportunity.

CM Punk’s Pipe Bomb Promo: John Cena, while you lay there, hopefully as uncomfortable as you possibly can be, I want you to listen to me. I want you to digest this, because before I leave in three weeks with your WWE Championship, I have a lot of things I wanna get off my chest. I don’t hate you, John. I don’t even dislike you. I like you a hell of a lot more than I like most people in the back. I hate this idea that you’re the best because you’re not. I’m the best. I’m the best in the world. There’s one thing you’re better at than I am, and that’s kissing Vince McMahon’s ass. You’re as good at kissing Vince’s ass as Hulk Hogan was. I don’t know if you’re as good as Dwayne, he’s a pretty good ass-kisser, always was and still is. Oops, I’m breaking the fourth wall. 

I am the best wrestler in the world. I’ve been the best ever since day one when I walked into this company, and I’ve been vilified and hated since that day because Paul Heyman saw something in me that nobody else wanted to admit. That’s right, I’m a Paul Heyman guy. You know who else was a Paul Heyman guy? Brock Lesnar and he split, just like I’m splittin’, but the biggest difference between me and Brock is that I’m going to leave with the WWE Championship. I’ve grabbed so many of Vincent K. McMahon’s imaginary brass rings that it’s finally dawned on me that they’re just that. They’re completely imaginary.

The only thing that’s real is me, and the fact that day in and day out, for almost six years, I’ve proved to everybody in the world that I am the best on this microphone, in that ring, and even on commentary. Nobody can touch me. And yet, no matter how many times I prove it, I’m not on your lovely little collectors’ cups, I’m not on the cover of the program, I’m barely promoted, I don’t get to be in movies, I’m not on any crappy show on the USA Network, I’m not on the poster of WrestleMania, I’m not on the signature that’s produced at the start of the show. I’m not on Conan O’Brian, I’m not on Jimmy Fallon, but the fact of the matter is I should be, and trust me, this isn’t sour grapes, but the fact that “Dwayne” is in the main event of WrestleMania next year and I’m not makes me sick!

Let me get something straight, those of you who are cheering me right now… you are just as big a part of me leaving as anyone else, because you’re the ones sipping out of those collector cups right now, you’re the ones that buy those programs that my face isn’t on the cover of, and then at five in the morning at the airport, you try to shove it in my face thinking you can get an autograph and sell it on eBay because you’re too lazy to get a real job. I’m leaving with the WWE championship on July 17 and hell, who knows, maybe I’ll go defend it in New Japan Pro Wrestling, maybe I’ll go back to Ring of Honor. Hey, Colt Cabana, how you doing?

The reason I’m leaving is you people because after I’m gone you’re still going to pour money into this company. I’m just a spoke on the wheel. The wheel’s gonna keep turning. And I understand that. Vince McMahon’s gonna make money despite himself. He’s a millionaire who should be a billionaire, you know why he’s not a billionaire? It’s because he surrounds himself with glad-handing nonsensical douchebag yes-men like John Lauranitis, who’s gonna tell him everything he wants to hear and I’d like to think that maybe this company will be better after Vince McMahon is dead, but the fact is it’s gonna get taken over by his idiotic daughter and his doofus son-in-law and the rest of his stupid family. Let me tell you a personal story about Vince McMahon. You know we do this whole bully campaign.

CM Punk: That promo is an entire WWE career of frustration being just  led out and not only mine. Every Diva and Superstar in the back. Everybody that has worked here and been released unjustly. I think everybody whose’s every worked here on any level has felt the frustration and , you know, it was almost the start of an revolution. I mean the feedback I got from that promo alone to that night was overwhelming.

Curt Hawkins: The vibe backstage was so indescribable like just people freaking out like on egg shells.

Kofi Kingston: You felt it. You know, i’m getting goosebumps thinking about it right now.

Lars: it changed the whole scheme of wrestling and that’s like to able to do that just because you’ve stood your ground and you kept your ideas that’s what the life is really all about.

Triple H: The moment where you go like there it is. Like the Austin 3:16 thing. There’s the moment. It was a launching pad.

Colt Cabana: And you know, that promo by anybody else, I think it’s just another promo, but the way he delivers it, the truth behind everything, the reality of a lot of it for that to come on live television and then literally after it, the internet explodes, Jim Rome is calling him, ESPN and Sports Illustrated, GQ Magazine, It put him in a whole new stratosphere in the world of wrestling.

CM Punk: Hello. It’s 5:30 in the morning. I’m on zero sleep. I’m in Boston and I’m about to go do a whole bunch of mania. I think my media aspect of life has changed from the last nine months ever since I cut the promo and just increased by ten fold. This is the guy right here. I used to do a lot of these, now I really do a lot of these. It’s giving me a lot of insight on days off which don’t exist.

94.5 Jamin Morning Host: Surrounding our studio is everyone in the building pretty much because the call came to stare at CM Punk. They love you dude.

CM Punk: I feel like an animal in the zoo.

Interviewer: You possibly getting followed?

CM Punk: There isn’t a situation that you could think of in your brain that i haven’t encountered like some of the most inappropriate stuff. I have been asked for my autography at a urinal. I have been asked for my autograph at a funeral. That was the one the really crossed the line. Every since I cut that promo, it’s a different level.

Andrew Belleson: Please, Welcome Chicago Native and WWE Superstar, CM Punk.

CM Punk: And I’m in the public eye more.

CM Punk Fan #4 at WrestleMania 28 Axxess: I like everything about him. I like that he speaks his mind. I mean I like that he’s an awesome wrestler and he goes out there for the fans.

CM Punk Fan #5 at The Allstate Arena: And he just stands for what real fans want and he wants change and I like change in the WWE.

CM Punk: I just think, I struck a nerve. I have reached a new level.

John Cena: His controversy, his decision to go or decision to stay really did put WWE on front street, but more importantly put CM Punk on front street.

Fred Toucher (98.5) : You made national headlines, you transcended wrestling publications and things when you’re going through your contract situation with the WWE.

CM Punk: I was just literally counting days like i’m just gonna go on vacation. I’m gonna go sit on my couch. I’m gonna do things that I, you know, haven’t ever had a chance to do. I have some freedom for once. When they told me that they were gonna go ahead and you know make a story out of it, that I was leaving, I was like do whatever you want as long as I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. If they wanted me to do it on television and say i’m leaving then that was fine with me. You know, it just made it more real. That’s why every time you saw me grab a microphone, it was 100 % me. 

CM Punk Promo in Baltimore: And now here’s that honesty I was talking about, the honesty that has probably gotten me in trouble more times than i’d like to admit, that brutal honesty i’m known for. July 17th, is the day with World Wrestling Entertainment comes to an end. 

CM Punk: I was really leaving. This is real as it gets. The clock strikes midnight, i’m outta here. I actually signed a two day extension, you know, just to cover the PPV cause otherwise I was done and it was, you know, I mean if I was anything less than the main event of that PPV I wouldn’t have signed that extension.

Colt Cabana:  You know, dirty little punk kid from Chicago. That was art. And I speak not only as his buddy, but as a Chicago fan, that was our guy.

Jerry Lawler: I have never seen this much hometown emotion.

CM Punk: I think that was definitely the most high pressure situation i’ve ever been in my entire life not just my career, you know. Everything I’ve ever done, it led me up to that point.

Jerry Lawler: It’s a weird feeling. I don’t know if I’ve ever witnessed anything like this.

Joey Mercury: It was 14 years in the making.

Scott Armstrong: MAN! That’s huge. This kid grew up there and now he’s in the middle of that arena sold completely out to see him against John Cena, this company’s number one. That’s huge for that dude.

Michael Cole: Cena versus Punk. One of the biggest matches in the history of WWE.

Daniel Bryan: It was something that you got legitimately excited about. You didn’t know what was going to happen. Including those of us within the company and it was really refreshing.

Michael Cole: An electric crowd, capacity crowd sold out 14, 815 in Chicago.

Ace Steel: I saw sitting in the front row, Cabana and I had no idea what was going to happen in that match and that was the best feeling.

Michael Cole: One of the most anticipated matches in history.

Booker T: And they are all cheering for CM Punk.

Michael Hayes: That was such a match. You can watch over and over again. You just didn’t know what was gonna happen.

Michael Cole: This has been absolutely extraordinary.

John Cena: We have these certain moments where in that ring you can step outside and enjoy it as a fan and there were moments in that match that I could just be like, Man! They’re going to be talking about this one for a long time.

Michael Cole: There’s not a person sitting down in the Allstate Arena. Everyone is on their feet.

Booker T: This is one of those matches that people will remember for the rest of their lives.

Michael Cole: GTS Connecting. GTS Connecting. Oh, my god.

Chez’s Mom: When he won that match, that was just amazing because that completely took him by surprise so I was pretty psyched about that.

Michael Cole: CM Punk is leaving through his hometown crowd with the WWE Championship.

CM Punk: It was amazing, I jumped right in the car and I drove home. Threw the title in the refrigerator.

Joey Mercury: I know he has told me that two conversations he had really changed his thought about whether to stay or go and one was with Lars, the other was with me, and Punk said, I don’t know what should I do, talk to me. And I said, what do you wanna do? He said, I wanna make a change, I wanna change this place for the better. And I said, you can’t change anything from your couch and I know from conversations since then that meant a lot to him. It put things in perspective for him. 

CM Punk: I resigned my deal halfway through the Money in the Bank Show. So, when that show started I was still out the door, I was still negotiating and as Vince said, you have me over a barrel here. I don’t feel like I sold out anything, contrary to what I said on television, I wasn’t in this for silly demands, it wasn’t even about the money, it was simply 100 % about the respect and being placed on the card where I deserved to be. It’s better for the whole company. 

Triple H: He’s a top guy, he’s a marquee guy, but not just to the world, not just to the fans, not just on the marquee, he’s a leader in the locker room now. He leads by example.

Michael Hayes: He has become a leader and not so much a loner and he’s embracing that. He’s going to the younger talent, talking to them, helping them tweak their matches, discussed them and he’s enjoying this big brother feel, if you will. Whether he wants to admit it or not, he is and I saw it. He’s having a good time.

Zack Ryder: Punk helped save my job basically because I started my YouTube show, Z True Long Island Story. My career was going nowhere. I have a lot of followers on twitter and Punk was one of those guys like, “Hey, Watch this show, Follow Zack Ryder.” That was such a huge-like I needed that. That was a huge boost for my career. The Buzz that he created, it was great.

Jim Ross: I think he’s a trail blazer. I think he has opened the door for a lot of guys that don’t fit that typical  8 X 10 look, and they have great passion and great condition and are athletic, they’re though, they’re smart, to make their way to WWE and earn a great living. 

John Cena: He’s one of the most dedicated pro wrestlers on this planet.

The Miz: CM Punk always tries to be better and to be the best and he’s not gonna come down for anybody. So, if you’re not working as hard as him and you’re staying in this tier then you’re not working hard enough because all our goal is to be bigger than CM Punk right now because he is the man.

John Cena: There’s no quitting in that kid. He amazes me everyday.

Jim Ross: CM Punk is one of those few guys that I have had the opportunity to work with in this whole business since in the mid 70s, that has this insatiable desire to be the best at what he does now. 

Paul Heyman: I think, he wants his legacy to be that he was the best in the world. That’s his dream. That’s his focus. That’s all he wants to be and he will give everything and anything to achieve that except his soul and his dignity. 

Outro: Thank you. My name is CM Punk! What I am is straight edge. I am drug free. I am alcohol free. And you’re alright with me tonight.

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