By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
ET Canada interview with CM Punk
Host: ET Canada’s Shakiel Mahjouri
Interview available via ETCanada.com
CM Punk on if Heels was a therapeutic experience: “Oh for sure. I think therapeutic is a good word for it. It was fun to be involved in something that was wrestling that wasn’t wrestling. There was no politics and none of the silly drama that you have to deal with backstage. I’ve been saying it a lot lately, it was fun just making the art and not worrying about anything else.”
CM Punk on how Hollywood’s impression of pro wrestling has changed over the decades: “I think the meek have inherited the Earth. I think a lot of people who are shot-callers or are on their way to being shot-callers in Hollywood used to be or still are huge professional wrestling fans. I think they grew up watching it, they get it, and now in their chosen profession they get to kind of turn the light onto it, so to speak, shed a little bit more light on it and show it the love that they’ve always given it. Guys like Michael Waldren. He’s writing the next Star Wars movie. The dude loves pro wrestling. He was the writer on Heels. That’s what I mean by the meek inheriting Earth.”
CM Punk on working with Stephen Amell: “I can’t say enough good things about Stephen. I think Stephen is not only an accomplished actor. This is a guy that has gotten into the ring on a number of occasions for a number of different companies. It wasn’t just about., ‘Oh I need to wrestle in the WWE’ for Stephen. It was just, ‘Oh, I need to wrestle.’ He’s wrestled for WWE, he wrestled for Ring of Honor. Before AEW was a thing, he did their one-off show in Chicago. So just a guy who follows his dreams, does what he wants. He’s just such a great dude and I think that lends credibility to both sides of things. It helps Heels out tremendously but it also helps out the wrestling side of things. It makes Heels feel like more of an authentic show when you have someone attached to it who loves the source material so much.”
CM Punk on what he wants to see in a second season of Heels: “Oh yeah! There are a million things. I think this is a show where we can really do what a show like Friday Night Lights did. It’s a show about football, but it’s not really about football. It’s about the people and the family and the characters in this town. I think we can do the same thing with Heels. I think we can touch on road trips, awful behavior of wrestlers, steroids, drugs, concussions. This is real and I think we can tell those real-life stories while also peeling back the characters that are just small-town America, Duffy, Georgia. Honestly, the sky’s the limit.”
CM Punk on balancing Heels and acting duties: “We’re lining things up and we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. Obviously, it’s built into my deal with AEW that I have the freedom to explore other opportunities. I have such a great relationship with Tony [Khan] that all it really is, is a conversation. I think the more visible I am, the bigger roles I get, I think it’ll help AEW internally. That being said, I am being pulled in a couple of different directions, but my heart is 100 percent behind every project that I do. AEW being one of them. It’s going to be a busy year, but it’s going to be a good one.”
CM Punk on ring rust: “I think it was just quieting that voice in my head that doubted anything. Cardio is fine, timing is fine. I was always a storyteller. You’ll never see me do a triple-jump moonsault to the floor or anything like that. It’s more about tugging on people’s heartstrings and getting them to care about me as a human being, really. If I have an advantage over anybody, I think that’s one of them. I have this rare connection with the crowd. I just think I need more reps. I need to get out there more in front of a live audience and wrestle. I’ll be back to form in no time. I think I haven’t missed a beat. That was kind of the goal. To go out there and make it look like I’ve been wrestling last week. I think mission accomplished. I just want to get out there and hear the crowd more. That’s all I want to do is be in that moment.”
CM Punk reacts to fan offering him beer on ‘AEW’ programming: “The thing that was going through my mind in that moment was, ‘Man, this guy is lucky I’m not a heel right now.’ But it was a funny moment for me. I was just like, ‘This is hilarious.’ Sometimes it’s not about the gift, the gesture is more important.
CM Punk on which under-the-radar Marvel comics character would do well in the MCU: “Obviously, I’m a Marvel fan. Cinematic and comic book and otherwise. I think we’re all crossing our fingers for a really, really well done Fantastic Four movie. I’m a huge Ben Grimm [a.k.a] The Thing guy. I think that could be that next quote-unquote underrated character. He’s a lot like Drax, you know? He’s a big rough, tough, mean-looking guy but he’s gentle. I think that one given the same treatment they’ve given a lot of other characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe could really blow a lot of people away.”
CM Punk on whether he is impressed with John Cena’s comedy acting skills: “One hundred percent, but I’m also not surprised. I think a lot of people conflate the two. You see a guy like Dave Bautista killing it with this myriad of different roles. Dave can do comedy, Dave can do drama, he can do it all. Cena has always been that funny guy. I always thought behind the scenes, and I think anybody who has worked with him always thought. A lot of the guys at that top-level in WWE may not want to admit it, but all we are are theatre actors. We’re doing live theatre every Monday, every Friday, Thursday, Tuesday, whatever the hell the schedule is now. All that is, is theatre. It gets you accustomed to improv and working on the fly. I read James Gunn said that John Cena was the best improv actor he’s ever worked with. That does not surprise me in the least. We do it every week for decades. When we transition to film, I think people are pleasantly surprised like, ‘Oh wow, I thought you were just going to be this muscled up stiff guy.’ I’m not surprised that John is killing it.”
CM Punk’s horror recommendations: Have you seen ‘Starry Eyes’? You should check out ‘Starry Eyes’. A very, very well done film. Man, I feel like everybody’s eyes are on horror lately with the Mike Flanagan stuff on Netflix and the Halloween resurgence. There’s a corny film I discovered from the ’80s I discovered called Blood Rage you should check out, that’s a great one. And for the third one. You really put me on the spot here. I want to try and cast some light. I haven’t seen it yet, but there is a movie called The Stylist that I want to check out. [Jill Gevargizian] is the director. She’s a fantastic talent so I can’t wait to watch The Stylist.