WWE News PUNK NEWS: The Big Annual C.M. Punk Interview with Helwani - A.J. Lee leaving WWE, training for more than one UFC fight, hardest part about transition, Punk or Phil Brooks?, Reebok deal, how the UFC deal came about, more
Jul 24, 2015 - 3:30:34 AM
PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO BOOKMARK US & VISIT US DAILY
By James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor
Former WWE star/current UFC roster member C.M. Punk opened up about a wide variety of topics in his annual on-camera interview with MMAFighting.com reporter Ariel Helwani from Punk's Chicago home.
UFC is in Chicago this weekend for a "UFC on Fox" fight card that Punk says he will attend. Punk noted it will be the second time he attends UFC in Chicago following the infamous series of events in January 2014. That was when Punk attended a "UFC on Fox" card the night before the Royal Rumble, traveled to Pittsburgh for the Rumble where he ended up wrestling his final match, and walked away from WWE the next night at Raw. In the middle of that sequence of events was Helwani, who interviewed Punk that weekend at his Chicago home.
Punk and Helwani agreed that Punk was in a much better place for Thursday's interview than back in January 2014 when Punk was miserable and days away from leaving WWE. Punk says he did not know at the time that he was about to leave WWE, as the final straw had not happened yet.
Notably, the interview does not include discussion of Punk's current legal battle with WWE physician Chris Amann. Punk is accused of slandering Dr. Amann in a podcast interview with Colt Cabana in November 2014 when he talked about the "final straw" events from January 2014.
Highlights of Helwani's present-day interview:
- Punk commented on his wife, A.J. Lee, deciding to leave WWE in April.
Punk was asked if he was relieved when A.J. left so that he did not have to remain connected to the product or company. "No," Punk said. "I really think she was working somewhere and doing what she loved, and people were making it hard for her to work there. It was a crappy situation. They made it so it was no longer ideal."
Punk said he would support A.J. if she decided to return to WWE, though. "She could go back tomorrow, I wouldn't care. It's her decision," Punk said. Notably, A.J. was in the room during the on-camera interview and made a cameo about 35 minutes into the 45-minute interview.
- Punk said he wants to have his UFC debut fight by the end of the year to fulfill his desire to fight within one year of announcing the UFC deal. But, he and his accountant are also thinking about the beginning of 2016. Punk half-seriously said his accountant is concerned about a big payday at the end of the year affecting his taxes.
Punk said ideally he would have his first UFC fight in Las Vegas at year-end or beginning of 2016, then have his second fight in Chicago later in 2016. He said there would be too much pressure having his first fight in Chicago.
Punk noted he's not looking to have just one fight, which is the perception from the outside. Asked if this is not a one-time thing, Punk said, "I hope not. I got a sweet deal. Why would I want to fight once?"
- Punk said he will be marketed in UFC as "C.M. Punk," not his real name of Phil Brooks. He also revealed that his entire MMA training at Roufusport in Milwaukee and journey to his first fight is being filmed for a documentary/TV special by an ESPN filmmaker.
Regarding his living situation, Punk confirmed that he and A.J. recently rented a house in Milwaukee so that he could train 2-3 times per day throughout the week "to absorb information" without having to travel back-and-forth to Chicago.
- Punk said the toughest part of his MMA training is transitioning out of the pro wrestler mentality of taking care of his opponent. He said Brock Lesnar had the same issue of still being in "wrestler mode." He said a swift punch to the face usually wakes him up to understand he's training for a real fight.
- Punk said part of him wishes he would have transitioned to MMA before he signed his last WWE contract four years ago, but he's fine with it because he does not have regrets about his career.
- Punk has visibly slimmed down to 190 pounds, and he says he will slim down even more to 170 pounds for his fighting weight.
He also said he plans to take advantage of UFC's marketing deal with Reebok, which will put an extra $2,500 in his pocket without having to do the hustle of finding sponsors. Punk noted that he worked out his UFC deal himself without a manager or agent.
This led to an in-depth discussion of how Punk joined UFC. Punk went back to October 2014 when he was sitting on the couch with Cliff Compton watching baseball playoffs and movies when UFC president Dana White called him.
Punk recalled White and UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta saying they wanted to meet with him about joining UFC, which took Punk by surprise since he wasn't sure if they were serious. At the time, he thought it was a joke, but he figured they thought it would make for good business.
Punk noted that he was still in the middle of legal issues with WWE stemming from his departure in January 2014. He said that he was trying to wrap things up before moving on with his career, which was going to be MMA training anyways. "UFC just expedited the process," he said.
Punk said that White and Fertitta presented him with a deal, answered his questions about why they wanted him to be on the roster, and delayed a decision so he could talk to A.J., who was on an international WWE tour. "Then, everything snowballed from there," Punk said, noting that UFC initially wanted to announce his signing in November, but pushed it back to December.
Asked why he thinks UFC was so adamant about getting a deal done, Punk said he figures it was to beat other promotions to the punch in addition to "being good business." Punk noted he received feelers from other companies before UFC contacted him, but nothing serious.
Helwani asked if he shopped himself around before UFC signed him. Punk said that was not the case because he was not mentally in a position to move on to do anything else because he was still tied up with WWE. "I wanted to wrap it up, move on, and start training for MMA," casually entering the MMA world. But, now that he's in UFC, he figures he sinks or swims on the biggest stage.
- Punk confirmed that he does not watch wrestling on TV anymore, but still hangs out with wrestlers from time-to-time when they're in Chicago.
Punk relayed a text from Daniel Bryan congratulating him on the UFC deal. He noted that they aren't close friends, just social, and have not spoken much since he left WWE due to it being like a separate world. "It was cool of him to reach out," Punk said.
- Overall, Punk said he hopes his WWE journey and now UFC journey inspire people to pursue their goals. He said if he can change one life and talk to that person about it, then it's worth it for him.
"I have the reputation of being a jerk because I tend to not let people get away with b.s., but I appreciate fans," a refreshed and reinvigorated Punk said.
THE TORCH REACHES MORE COMBAT ENTERTAINMENT FANS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. PWTorch.com launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.
He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.
He has interviewed big-name players in person incluiding Vince McMahon (at WWE Headquarters), Dana White (in Las Vegas), Eric Bischoff (at the first Nitro at Mall of America), Brock Lesnar (after his first UFC win).
He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)
REACHING 1 MILLION+ UNIQUE USERS PER MONTH
500 MILLION CLICKS & LISTENS PER YEAR
MILLIONS OF PWTORCH NEWSLETTERS SOLD
PWTorch offers a VIP membership for $10 a month (or less with an annual sub). It includes nearly 25 years worth of archives from our coverage of pro wrestling dating back to PWTorch Newsletters from the late-'80s filled with insider secrets from every era that are available to VIPers in digital PDF format and Keller's radio show from the early 1990s.
Also, new exclusive top-shelf content every day including a new VIP-exclusive weekly 16 page digital magazine-style (PC and iPad compatible) PDF newsletter packed with exclusive articles and news.
The following features come with a VIP membership which tens of thousands of fans worldwide have enjoyed for many years...
-New Digital PWTorch Newsletter every week
-3 New Digital PDF Back Issues from 5, 10, 20 years ago
-Over 60 new VIP Audio Shows each week
-Ad-free access to all PWTorch.com free articles
-VIP Forum access with daily interaction with PWTorch staff and well-informed fellow wrestling fans
-Tons of archived audio and text articles
-Decades of Torch Talk insider interviews in transcript and audio formats with big name stars. **SIGN UP FOR VIP ACCESS HERE**