CM Punk exclusive
Skysports.com caught up with Mr Money In The Bank ahead of Judgement Day on May 17.
By Phil Jackson
Last Updated: 14/05/09 11:38am
Skysports.com caught up with Mr Money In The Bank CM Punk ahead of Judgement Day, which is live on Sky Box Office on May 17.
The two-time Money In The Bank winner has yet to cash in his championship challenging contract, with Umaga the latest fighter to stand in his way.
And as Punk concludes his preparation for the match with the Samoan Bulldozer, Skysports.com caught up with the Straightedge Superstar to talk about his rapid rise up the WWE ladder, and the bumps he has taken along the way.
Q: Which wrestler did you most admire growing up? Who was an inspiration?
A: That's a hard question to answer because there are so many. Shawn Michaels is definitely one and he is pretty relevant because he's still with the company. Ricky Steamboat and Bret Hart as well, those three guys are probably the big ones.
Q: Was there a particular moment or match where you thought 'this is it, this is what I want to do'?
A: Ever since I can remember remembering this is what I have wanted to do. This is the only thing I have ever wanted to do. I generally equate watching Rowdy Piper smash a coconut over Jimmy Snuka's head thinking 'wow I want to smash stuff over people's heads and get paid for it'.
Q: Do you think it's important to keep the old and new breed together in the business? How do you see that going forwards?
A: There are plenty of veterans involved that don't actively wrestle: Arn Anderson, Ricky Steamboat, even though he just competed at WrestleMania and Backlash, Mike Rotunda [aka Irwin R.Schyster], Dean Malenko. These guys are still around even though they're not in the ring, they're still there with their wealth of knowledge and they're there for the young guys to pick their brains. It's important to have the connection with the past. Without them and what they did we're nothing.
Q: Mickey Rourke's film 'The Wrestler' highlighted some of the brutal realities of wrestling and I was just wondering how many times do you fight a week? How do you cope with that strain on your body physically?
A: Normally in the States it's four times a week. Physically you've got to stay in shape. I stretch, I work out, I drink a lot of water and I try to eat right.
Q: What about injuries? It's not like football or something where you can be treated if you get injured in a match?
A: Injuries happen, although luckily in my WWE career I've been relatively injury-free. We have doctors and trainers on staff, but I also think wrestlers are a little more knuckleheaded than other people. For a wrestler to be injured and be out, well I think there are a lot of other athletes in the world that would be out with lesser injuries. I think us wrestlers have the mentality of just tape it up and go. You get a lot of bumps and bruises - a lot.
Q: What's the worst injury you have ever had during a match?
A: The worst injury I've ever had was a fractured skull.
Q: Did you realise at the time?
A: I thought I broke my neck at the time. I was giving a guy a neckbreaker and his head wound up on top of mine and everything just sandwiched and hit the mat at the same time and my head was turned. It felt like somebody took a pot of warm water and poured it inside my brain. Everything got hot so I thought I broke my neck. I still had feelings so like a knucklehead I continued to wrestle for 12 more minutes. Afterwards it was a chore to walk from the ring to the back and as soon as I got in the back I hit the floor and couldn't get up. I couldn't open my eyes, I couldn't see and was throwing up.
Q: Did the doctors tell you that you obviously shouldn't have continued to wrestle?
A: No they didn't say anything like that they told me that they were shocked because I walked into the hospital. They were like 'how did you get in here?' I said 'I walked' so they said 'the bad news is you have a fractured skull. The good news is you should have died.' I was out two months.
Q: Have you ever inflicted an injury on someone with the Go To Sleep finisher?
A: I've broken a nose or two that's about it. It happens, you finish the match.
Q: Do you have a favourite finishing move other than your own?
A: I'm a submission guy, so for me, you can't really beat Bret Hart's Sharpshooter. I just love submission holds.
Q: And a current wrestler?
A: I'll mention Evan Bourne; he's got the prettiest shooting star press [aka Air Bourne] I've ever seen in my life. It's just spectacular looking.
Q: What's the best match you've ever had?
A: About a year ago on SmackDown I had a really good one with Edge. That sticks out in my mind. My championship win for the ECW title against John Morrison and probably the Money In The Bank from last year.
Q: What makes them stand out more than others?
A: Well the first two I thought were just great matches and I'm my worst critic so for me to say they were anything it's got to be something special and different for me to watch it back and still like it. The Money In The Bank thing was just probably my most high profile win. I was at WrestleMania and I won one of the biggest titles.
Q: You've enjoyed a rapid rise since moving to the WWE, where do you see yourself going from here?
A: I guess when you get to where I'm at you can say the only place to go is down, but I got the Money In The Bank briefcase again so I'm just looking forwards.
Q: Who are you looking for? Is there anyone in your sights?
A: If John Cena can regain the gold then that would be fun. I'd cash in the Money In The Bank contract for that.
Q: Who other than yourself would be a wrestler to keep an eye on over the next year?
A: I would keep an eye on Kofi Kingston because he is kind following in my footsteps. He has got his foot in the door, is constantly doing the right things and wowing everybody every time he is in the ring. Evan Bourne I've already mentioned. Those are probably the two big ones and I'm also a huge fan of Beth Phoenix. I think anything she does is awesome.
Q: What would you say to someone who has stopped watching wrestling nowadays or someone who has never got into it? What is the appeal?
A: Nowadays it's bigger and more insane than ever. It's literally the best entertainment for your dollar. It's part soap opera, part action movie. There's loud music like a rock concert, explosions like four or five pyro, gorgeous women, people you can get behind and root for, underdogs, people you want to see get their teeth kicked down their throat. To me, it's the greatest thing in the world.