The best wrestling moments tend to happen when you have no idea how a match is going to end. The Undertaker and Triple H at Wrestlemania 28, CM Punk vs. John Cena at Money in the Bank 2011, Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart at Survivor Series 1997…
And now, CM Punk vs. Ryback at Hell in a Cell.
In one corner you have the WWE Champion whose lengthy title reign seems destined for a date with The Rock at the Royal Rumble. In the other you have the undefeated newcomer whose “Feed Me More” chants have been erupting in arenas across the country.
I had a chance to talk to the “Best in the World” in the days leading up to his big title defense and asked him about the rise of Ryback, the return of the Rock, and the benefits to having your face plastered all over a video game store…
Gordon Holmes: What you do on Twitter is your business, but if you could refrain from making fun of the St. Louis Cardinals during this interview, I’d appreciate it.
CM Punk: I cannot promise anything.
Holmes: And…we’re already off to a bad start.
Holmes: One of the most important parts of being a champion with a long title reign is being able to have entertaining matches with a wide variety of opponents. In the past year you’ve had to face big guys like Big Show and Kane, brawlers like John Cena and the Miz, and technical guys like Daniel Bryan and Chris Jericho. Your opponent this Sunday, Ryback, is very different from all of those guys. Does facing someone with such a power-based offense change your approach to the match?
Punk: It doesn’t change my approach to the match. I’m still confident in my own abilities, but I’m not going to get arrogant because Ryback is a hell of a specimen. There’s potential for a title change on Sunday. There’s a potential for a title change anytime I get in the ring, but I always find a way to win.
Holmes: Is that a feather in your cap to be able to work with so many different styles?
Punk: Absolutely. I think the fans, whether subconsciously or consciously, know that whether I’m wrestling Rey Mysterio or Big Show or Kane or Daniel Bryan it’s going to be a good match.
Holmes: Sunday is Ryback’s first main event. What do you think he’s going through mentally as he prepares to take that next step?
Punk: I think he’s trying to get his head right. I’m positive he has butterflies. If he doesn’t, then something is wrong with him. It’s just what he does with those butterflies.
Holmes: Last time we talked you said one of your goals was to make more people into stars. Do you think Ryback has what it takes to break through and become one of those top guys?
Punk: Absolutely. But, it relies a lot on what he does in the position he’s put in. We need guys. Make no mistake about it; we need guys. Hopefully he’s one of them.
Holmes: The “WWE ‘13” video game is being released next Tuesday with a familiar face on the cover. Have you had a chance to sit down and try it out?
Punk: The game is excellent. The cover has never looked as good as it does this year. There’s tons of new features. You get to play as Attitude era characters, you can collapse the ring, you can collapse the guardrail. There’s tons of sweet new things.
Holmes: Is it better to have your face on a video game than it would be to have it on a commemorative cup?
Punk: Oh yeah. I can walk into any video game store and my face is plastered all over it. That’s pretty wild.
Holmes: Probably makes it easier to pick up girls.
Punk: (Laughs) God knows that’s what I do when I go into video game stores.
Holmes: Good point.
Holmes: You’re a very goal-oriented guy. I think I’m also quite goal-oriented. However, I always think I’ll be able to relax once something is achieved, but that’s never the case. You’ve talked about having very few goals left in the wrestling business. When those are all done, I can’t imagine you just kicking back and relaxing in Chicago. Is there a plan for your next chapter once you leave the ring?
Punk: Yeah, of course. I can’t exactly tell you what that is yet…(Laughs)…that’d spoil it. I am a very goal-oriented person and one of the goals is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. One of the goals is getting out of the wrestling business with my health intact. I think that’s a very important goal. And if you don’t have that goal you’re not being realistic, because this isn’t going to last forever. And, I don’t think you’re being fair to yourself. I don’t want to be one of those guys who’s forty-five, fifty and wrestling.
Holmes: How has your “Best in the World” DVD been received so far?
Punk: It’s funny, I’ve only heard a couple of negative things and it was from people who were obviously trying to get a rise out of me on Twitter. You know, “I saw your DVD and it sucked.” Well, then you obviously didn’t watch it. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. We worked really hard on that thing, and it was pulling teeth getting a lot of that stuff in there. But, I did it and I have zero regrets. I’m so proud of that, I think it’s the defining moment of my career.
Holmes: Whenever we talk, I like to bug you about how you’d fare in an old-school wrestling organization.
Punk: No, I love it. I appreciate it.
Holmes: I’m a big fan of ‘80s tag team wrestling. The British Bulldogs, the Hart Foundation, the Midnight Express…my question is…who’d be your ‘80s tag team partner?
Punk: Oh man…I don’t know… Paul Heyman always draws a lot of comparisons with Eddie Gilbert and myself. So, if it’s the ‘80s I’m tagging with Eddie Gilbert.
Holmes: If you make it to the Royal Rumble as the champion you’ll be facing a gentleman known as The Rock. Do you think it’s easier or tougher to get in the ring if you’re not working a full-time schedule?
Punk: He can lift a lot heavy weights and he’s got all those big muscles. But, all of those muscles need oxygen. And when you’re not in the ring every night like I am, you can’t keep up with the best in the world.
Holmes: He’ll have trouble keeping up with you?
Holmes: One of the things…
Punk: 100%! I want to be very clear about that. I think he thought John Cena was going to be an easier target than he was. And I certainly think he’s completely underestimating me. He’s bitten off more than he can chew.
Watch WWE: Hell in a Cell, Sunday, October 28, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on Pay Per View.
The “WWE ‘13” Video Game will be available for XBox 360, PS3, and Nintento Wii on Tuesday, October 30, 2012.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes