CM Punk, the trainer
Interview by Al Lagattolla
CM Punk said he never realistically thought he could train other wrestlers until he was approached by Primetime Wrestling. Since Brandon Bishop left to become a trainer at the Lunatic Wrestling Federation, Primetime hasn't run a show, and has been without a trainer for their school.
Looking to relaunch, Primetime asked Punk if he'd be interested. After a month of thought, he said yes. Punk talks to Chicagowrestling.com's Al Lagattolla about what he hopes to accomplish with the training and how he hopes his students will follow his path.
Punk also talks about the possibilities of wrestling in Primetime, and also how well he enjoys Revolution Championship Wrestling. He says RCW and Ring of Honor have become his priorities.
AL: What made you decide to start training?
PUNK: A little bit to do with them paying me. I was thinking about it for a while. I mulled it over for a month. For the longest time, I kept saying I wasn't qualified to train anybody, but the more and more I looked at who is training people in Chicago, sans present company of course (Vic Capri was nearby), I am more than qualified. I also get to work out in the ring, which I haven't done since the Domain closed. I get to do that on a weekly basis to work on my stuff. So I have some selfish motivations. But a lot of the Primetime guys got left high and dry when Brandon quit. I'm just a nice guy, helping out.
AL: Did you pick them because they asked you? Was it as simple as that?
PUNK: Yeah. They approached me. They were more than patient with me, waiting. They waited probably about a month for my answer. I've been up there for a month to check out how the students are, what their attitudes are.
AL: Were they the first to ask you about training?
PUNK: They were the first. It never crossed my mind until they asked.
AL: You mentioned some of their kids. Do they have anyone there we'd recognize? Anyone who was at their first show?
PUNK: That I'm not really sure about. I'm not real positive who worked that show. A couple of the kids who go to Brandon and Capri's classes (at LWF) will come down, too. Danny McKay is one of them. I'm trying to get Adam Evans to show up.
AL: Why didn't you think you were qualified before?
PUNK: Because I'm more focused on myself, getting somewhere and geting booked every weekend. I can give these kids 100%, but I'm still more focused on that. If something comes up where I can't be there on a Tuesday, and it's something that would benefit me, I'd probably do that. And I'm my own worst critic. I'll say over and over that I don't think I'm any good.
AL: Do you really think you're not any good?
PUNK: How do I answer that? I think I know the basics, and I think I'm qualified to show people some stuff. I'm the only person in this area who travels as much as I do. I'm the only one who has access to training with people other people look up to. I have the most experience of all the people who are training. I was trained by Ace (Steel). I trained with Fit Finlay, Steve Regal, Dave Taylor. Every time I go to Ring of Honor, I'm in there against guys like American Dragon and Low-Ki. All of us who want to be on top of our game are always adapting. Before the Ring of Honor shows, everybody is out there grappling. That is where I think I have the edge over everybody. I have the most experience. I am the most traveled.
AL: Except for a guy like Ace, and he's not training anymore.
PUNK: And he doesn't want to, either. It's a headache at the end of the Domain. People would show up late, and they'd be lazy. They wouldn't want to do the drills. I'm going to show the kids, anything I'm going to make them do, I'm going to do first. I'm not going to be sitting there smoking cigarettes out on the apron telling them what to do. I don't smoke.
AL: You never encountered that.
PUNK: No, the Domain was intense, and that's how I'm going to run it.
AL: Will you run it like Ace would run it?
PUNK: For starters, yeah. A lot of drills. A lot of cardio. I don't think a lot of that stuff has a place in teaching somebody how to wrestle, but a lot of the kids need it. It's not the way the Domain was run, but before I could learn how to work out, that's what I needed to do. These kids need to be in better shape. I am not going to be a complete drill sergeant, but I am going to be very stern. I won't tolerate excuses like "I'm tired." Because I'm tired, too. The reason this whole thing came up is that me and Capri work out Tuesday mornings now, so I can get down there Tuesday nights. I live about 60 miles away, so it's a pain in the ass for me, too. But this is what I want to do. If kids want to give 30% or not show up at all, I won't tolerate that. So if anybody out there is really serious, I'm the one to come to. But don't half-ass it.
AL: I would assume they will charge what everybody else charges, in that range?
PUNK: That I'm not really sure about.
AL: You mentioned how you didn't think the training is at a really high level in Chicago.
PUNK: It's not. This isn't a knock on Brandon (Bishop) but a lot of his students have some odd habits, not necessarily bad, but not the way I'd train them. Who is training in Chicago right now? Sam (DeCero), Windy City. Capri and Bishop, they come from Sam. I was trained in the Steel Domain. I guess everybody can trace it back to Windy City, but that is not the best way to train. I'm pretty skilled in a whole different bunch of styles of wrestling. Another thing I will bring to Primetime is I have the most connections. I can help guys get booked out here, and they can do seminars. Guys will have the chance to train with American Dragon or Mike Quackenbush, just so it's not all like Windy City, American-style wrestling. Everybody else does come from Sam. It's just that I'm different.
AL: Had you thought about doing this for the long haul?
PUNK: I would like to be able to produce some students who know how to work and can appreciate wrestling for what it is, and have some sort of desire to wrestle outside of Chicago. I can plug kids in to different places all over the country instead of just wrestling in Chicago once a month. I think that's a big plus. It's like Danny (Dominion) and Ace did before I was ready, they had me working in Minnesota, and here and there. That's how you get better. There's only so much I can show you.
AL: So the problem isn't that people are wrestling in Chicago, it's that they're not wrestling anywhere else?
PUNK: I don't understand how anyone can be in this business and then, what's the goal? I love wrestling. I will wrestle anywhere, simply because I love it. It's not necessarily about making it in the WWE, but if that's what these kids want, I don't understand how wrestling once a month in the same company is going to do it. I wrestle 12 times a month, some guys wrestle 12 times a year. Paul Orndorff said, "To really learn how to work, it takes 5 years." He's talking about when there were territories, and you'd wrestle every day. That's more like 15 years now. There are people all over Chicago who think they're great veterans because they've been in this business 15 years. But they still suck.
AL: You have connections, but nobody who is just starting can assume you're just going to bring them along to Ring of Honor.
PUNK: I really hope they aren't thinking that. You have to start from the bottom, just like I did. That's the way it is. Hopefully some of the kids will want to follow in my footsteps. I started at the bottom. I went and I got trained. I was the low guy on the totem pole for a long time. Whatever little amount of respect I have now, I'm not satisfied. There are other places I need to wrestle. It's a ladder. You start at the bottom.
AL: When they start running, I would assume they would like you to work there.
PUNK: Yeah, it's not like I'm shying away, but I'm booked through July. That would be hard, but yeah, I would definitely work Primetime. I don't want anybody to think it's a slight, that I'd train there but I'm too good to work there. That's not the case at all, but I am busy. I am the busiest I've been in my life.
AL: Are you at RCW for the next few shows?
PUNK: That's the good thing about Jay Repsel, he gives me dates in advance. I work around that. I work around that and Ring of Honor.
AL: I know guys say a title isn't important, but it is a commitment of some sort.
PUNK: Saying a title isn't important, it's true and it's not. To think you need a title to be over, then you're wrong. I believe in what Repsel's doing. He clearly has the best fed in and around Chicago. He's outdrawing guys who sit around and talk about how good their shows are, when they're really not. For me to represent RCW, I will treat the belt like I should treat it. I will elevate it. My job as the champion is to make contenders for the belt. That's what Harley Race told me. I've been working for Harley for a couple of months, and every time I'm down there he pulls me and Ace aside and talks to us for hours. I learn so much from talking to Harley Race.
AL: His shows will take you a little further west. You've mostly worked to the east, are you thinking you'd like to work west some more?
PUNK: I've had offers from California, but everything falls through. I have something that sounds really cool coming up for July, but I don't want to say in case it falls through.
AL: Not disappointed because you're not at the Super 8?
PUNK: Not at all. The Super 8 is an accomplishment, but it's just another show. I've got a buddy of mine in the Super 8, Paul London, and I hope he's OK because he's just had surgery. I hope to god he doesn't explode his sinus cavity.
AL: How about you, since cracking your skull last year?
PUNK: I've got after-effects, but I'm all right. I'll live.
AL: You hate Chicago wrestling.
PUNK: I love Chicago, but, yes, I do hate Chicago wrestling. It's filled with people who do nothing but talk shit and cannot back it up. There is jealousy, and nobody wants to help anybody else out. Half of them aren't trained, and the other aren't trained well. When I first started out, I didn't go about it the right way. You need gear, a car, an alarm clock. I will beat that in these kids' heads. I will drive all over creation to find work. I think a lot of people in Chicago are content to be little fish in a very little pond. That's not me. I won't be sitting on my ass, wrestling once a month in front of 12 people.
AL: Can you make it better?
PUNK: Making it better, it's tough for one person. Me and Capri can work together. We will work on different things at different times, but I don't want the kids listening too much to what others are telling them. I'm not worried about Capri at all. It's not my goal to make things better. It's my goal to help somebody who is interested in getting in the business and make sure they're not swindled and they're not screwed, and not be told it's the way it is when it's not that way at all. I don't buy this whole talk about houses are down everywhere, that's just the way it is. I've been working in front of 1,000 people with Harley Race in Monmouth, Ill. People here use it as a crutch. How many people are running shows when they don't even understand how it works. I'm not doing this to make Chicago better. I'm in it to make a couple of kids see how horrible this place can be and go other places.
AL: But you enjoy Revolution?
PUNK: Yes. Repsel listens to us and we have ideas. This and Ring of Honor are my priorities. You don't have to worry about if the show's going to happen. I have no reason to doubt him.