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CM Punk Talks Differences Between AEW and WWE Locker Room Environments
Posted By: Joe West on Sep 04, 2021
CM Punk was a guest on the Moose & Maggie show on WFAN Sports Radio 101.9FM/660AM in New York recently, where he spoke about the emotions that were running through him when he made his pro wrestling return on AEW Rampage back in August.
“I can’t put into words what it felt like walking out there a couple of Fridays ago. Being a kid from Chicago [and] watching the Hawks and the Bulls play in that building. Watching Bret Hart wrestling his brother Owen in a steel cage in 1994, it was neat. There were a lot of things going on in my head and my heart. But it was all good. It was a hell of a moment.”
Of course, the big question is "why?" Why return now after all this time? Punk has an answer for that.
“There’s a dozen good reasons to come back, but if you really look at the landscape of things, when I left there was no AEW. A lot of people assumed that I probably would have went straight there. I don’t know how true that is, but watching them make a big splash on the scene two years ago, and grow into this company with TNT firmly behind them…watching for two years and seeing how everything developed and realizing that this place is possibly all I ever wanted in professional wrestling, so really the question is why wouldn’t I go there now?”
Punk spoke about the differences between the backstage environments between AEW and WWE.
“I know the place has changed, but when I showed up in that locker room for the first time in 2006 it was a shark tank, and the culture there is very much they would like to pit guys against each other. You want to try to steal this guy’s spot or take what this guy has. I’m a student and fan, and there were a lot of territories that had multiple top guys. Guys could rotate in and out. WWE seemed to be focused on one guy and wanted everyone to fight over banana peels to be that one guy. There were a few guys that helped me in the locker room, but I would say the majority of the old-timers who really helped me was prior to WWE. Eddie Guerrero, Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes, Tracy Smothers – all these guys had been there and done that and they loved helping the young kids. I feel like there’s a lot of people in the WWE system that didn’t want to help as much as they could have or should have because they were busy protecting their spot."
He then elaborated.
“I never got any time off the entire time I was there. There was a point I was begging for time off, and here I don’t think that’s ever going to happen. I feel like if I tell Tony, he’s already asked me. We were out to dinner the one night and he goes ‘do you guys plan on going on vacation any time soon?’ I was like ‘I just got here’. It’s much appreciated….this isn’t to harp on where I used to work, but when I do media and stuff like that, it comes up. I know there are people rolling their eyes and saying he’s being dramatic when he says he would’ve died. Listen, you don’t know my life and the staph infections, concussions, and the pressure to go out there. I put a lot of that on myself. I would not have stopped. I would not have taken myself out of that bad situation until I did. I had to break that cycle because no one in a position of power there would have stepped in. Everything is just different now. I realize I can be happy, and I can be a pro wrestler, and I can still do movies, television, MMA commentary, and be a great husband, which is the number one thing I’m trying to do.”
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