CM Punk talks return to WWE, Paul Heyman, AJ Lee & more
FSW: Maybe it’s too far in the future, and I’m sure people ask you this one, but when’s your tentative debut? Are we talking a year, two years, six months? How long is this process?
PUNK: I’ve been here for two months now. “Come in the door,” I said to all the coaches, I said, “Whatever little I do know, forget it, and that I’m just a moldable piece of clay.” I think Duke (Roufus) really liked that because I don’t have all the . . . say I’ve been fighting for four years and I was trained by somebody different, Duke would have to almost kind of reverse-engineer everything, get rid of some bad habits. And different camps teach guys striking in a different way. So I’m learning under Duke Roufus, so he wants me doing everything a certain way. So I don’t have any habits and I don’t have the attitude of, “Oh, well, no, I learned it this way,” you know what I mean? I’m the most coachable guy here. I do what my coaches say. So it’s not really up to me anymore, 100 percent. I’m leaving it up to Duke (and the other coaches and trainers). The original idea was to come in here, train my ass off for six months and then sit down with all of them, have a little powwow and see where we’re at.
FSW: How many hours a day or week do you train? Is this your “full-time job” right now, or just one of many things kind of consuming your week?
PUNK: I definitely look at it as a full-time job. I’m here every day of the week. I take weekends off. But I’m here and I train with the pro team every day for two hours. Then some days I do two-a-days, so I’ll come back. I live in Chicago, so I’m driving back and forth. Or some days I’m staying up here. So on those days, normally two days a week I come back and do extra, or even when I’m at home I’ll do strength and conditioning, run. I’m very much all-in on this.
FSW: Since Jan. 2014, speaking of TV, how much WWE programming have you watched?
PUNK: None. I don’t watch wrestling anymore. I’ve tried to, but I have an aversion to it. You do something like that for however many years I did it, and it’s like a lifetime. I’ve seen enough.
FSW: How does that work with your wife (WWE’s A.J. Lee) still doing it? Does she tell you about it, given that you don’t want to watch it? Or do you watch her stuff?
PUNK: I will, yeah, I will watch her stuff. Chances are she’ll only tell me to watch when she’s excited about something. But, yeah, it’s my wife, she’s a grown-ass woman, she can do what she needs to.
FSW: With the benefit of hindsight, when you look back on it, are you glad you signed with WWE in ’05? Did the pros outweigh the cons, ultimately?
PUNK: Well, yeah, of course. Like I said, I don’t live my life with regrets. I don’t even think there’s really situations where I wish I would’ve handled myself a little bit differently. I wish I would’ve punched one or two people in the face. But, no, I wouldn’t change a damn thing. Absolutely not.
FSW: What do you remember most about those 434 days as WWE Champion?
PUNK: Working with Paul Heyman. That was the only thing that kept me sane. It was like a condition of, we get to work with each other because we don’t like anybody else. So, working with him . . .
FSW: I’m going to ask you the flip side of this too, but: The best part of your nine years in WWE was what?
PUNK: Turning chicken(expletive) into chicken salad. I think that’s what the best workers always did. I think they took whatever idea they were given and they made it better. I think they take bad situations and bad ideas and make them palatable to the audience. I think they take bad material and shine it up and make it digestible. It was always a challenge because there’s so much content with them. There’s the three-hour Monday, there’s the two-hour Friday and now there’s NXT and there’s Superstars and there’s Main Event, and there’s all these shows, and just trying to stay entertaining and trying to be riveting and trying to reinvent yourself every night, just staying over with the fans. That was always at least, for the most part, creatively stimulating.
FSW: OK, so what was the worst part of your time there?
PUNK: The worst part of it? After a while, I would say the worst part of it was their not listening and not understanding, and not getting a break when I probably needed one. Because who’s to say where I’d be right now? They’re always looking for the next guy, so nobody is really bigger than the company. Not that I ever thought I was, but I thought I was a pretty healthy cog in the machine. I thought I could’ve been afforded a vacation here or there.
FSW: Chances you ever work there again? Ever.