By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
CM Punk appeared on the Kap & J Hood Show hosted by David Kaplan and Jonathan Hood on ESPN Chicago on Monday. The following are the highlights of the interview that can be heard in full at ESPN Chicago.
Punk on the outpouring of affection: I’m a Chicago guy. I’m a Chicago sports guy. I cried when the Cubs won the World Series. I cried when the Blackhawks won the [Stanley] Cup, the time that I was alive when they won the Cup, not back in the sixties. You know, it means a lot. And I think it means a lot because I’m so attached to Chicago and sports especially. I understand. So anybody who’s making fun of that dude [for crying], you’re making fun of me too. There’s nothing wrong with being emotional at a sporting event or anything you like. I’ll cry at a Marvel movie.”
Punk on where that night ranks among the last seven years: “I’ll take it back further, honestly. I was discussing this with a couple of my friends. That might have been the greatest moment, the greatest night of my career… Just the entire night couldn’t have gone more perfect. The way we set it up as the worst kept secret, man, selling out the United Center on the rumor that I was going to be there, never announced, never advertised. It shows the connection to the fanbase that AEW has, that they get it. They want to be involved, they want to be entertained, they want to go to shows and have a good time. So we didn’t feel the need to beat them over the head to get a TV rating. And don’t get me wrong, I know executives at TNT love their ratings, but to me pro wrestling has always been about moments and getting people to feel something. It was the perfect storm, the perfect night.”
Punk on what impresses him most about the AEW roster: It’s a very young roster and the youthful exuberance. It reminds me of another love of my life, which is punk rock. It reminds me of all the kids that used to go to punk rock shows in bowling alleys and VFW’s and stuff. They really found a place where, ‘Man, I really fit in here.’ And they feel at home. That’s what impressed me the most. It’s great that everybody is nice. It’s great that everybody is happy to see you. I understand that maybe some of that might be honeymoon phase, but I really feel optimistic that it’s not. They are young and they are hungry, and what they lack in experience they make up for with effort, and that’s just tremendous. I look at it like I’m the veteran slugger on a major league team, and I’m coming onto this team that’s just full of prospects and a lot of people maybe count them out. They’re so eager to go out there and not only entertain the fans, but they want to have fun doing it. And I think when the performers in the ring are having a good time, I think that resonates and I think the fans can see that and it helps enjoy the moment.”
Punk on his preparation for his match with Darby Allin at AEW All Out: “I think it’s a lot of ‘Can Punk still go?’ ‘Can Punk still wrestle in the ring? ‘Can he be entertaining?’. Fortunately for me, I was never a guy that did a whole bunch of crazy flips and stuff like that, so I don’t have to go back and try to do these amazing athletic feats. My goal is to tell a story. And the way I get ready for this is to watch a lot of Darby Allin matches. It’s not different than a sports team watching tape on the team that they’re playing. I watch him and see what he can do, and then I get to get creative about it. And that’s how I get ready. Obviously, I’m in a television show that’s called Heels that’s on the Starz network. I’ve been in the ring. We’re filming wrestling. I have gotten in the ring and I have been training but not super extensively because it beats your body up, so I’m trying to be smart about it. But mostly just watching tape on him and I’m impressed by what I see.”
Powell’s POV: It’s great that Punk stood up for that crying fan who was shown on TNT. You had to know he would get the meme treatment, but it’s been cool to see Punk and a number of pro wrestlers from various companies speak out in defense of the fan. It’s received enough online buzz that I’m wondering if AEW will track the fan down and give him a moment with Punk on one of their upcoming television shows. Punk also spoke about Chicago sports during the enjoyable 15-minute interview.