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Following CM Punk
Following CM Punk
By Brandon Campbell with photos by Rich Freeda
March 26, 2008
All it took for CM Punk to become addicted was a blow to the head with a coconut. While watching wrestling as a young child, CM Punk witnessed WWE Hall of Famer "Rowdy" Roddy Piper bust open the tropical fruit on Jimmy Snuka's skull. Ironically, it was this moment that inspired the former ECW Champion to embark in a career in sports-entertainment.
"There was just something so romantic about what had just happened," Punk recalls. "It stood out so much more to me than someone hitting a homerun, someone kicking a field goal or catching a ‘Hail Mary' for a touchdown. There's something about smashing fresh produce over somebody's head and getting paid for it."
Growing up in Chicago, Punk was the average little boy -- hyperactive. He would wrestle with his family and friends. As Punk got older, his hyperactive nature turned into aggression, oftentimes causing him to be reprimanded for fighting.
"Getting in trouble a lot for fighting is how I got my name ‘Punk,' " says the Straightedge Superstar, reminiscing about his past. "Anybody who had some type of authority, I would just mouth off to. I was an individual with a capital ‘I.' Anybody who told me not to do something, I would do it anyway. When someone told me I wouldn't [accomplish] something, I'd prove them wrong."
But that was then and this is now. Punk doesn't get into trouble for fighting anymore -- because he says it's his job to fight. The Straightedge Superstar lets his tension out on opponents in the ring. He's widely popular for living a drug-free and non-alcoholic lifestyle, and is an example of how one should never judge a book by its cover. WWE.com will follow CM Punk all week before he appears in The Granddaddy of Them All in his second consecutive Money in the Bank Ladder Match to show our fans there's more to the former ECW Champion than meets the eye.
8:52 p.m., Oh My … Moment No. 1
CM Punk signs autographs for three hours and listens to fans, such as Nicole Rubino, 16, a Chicago native, chant his name. "I still can't believe I met him … He's really hot. My heart dropped and I felt butterflies in my stomach," says Rubino, who recently celebrated her 16th birthday with a CM Punk-themed birthday party. "I'm always honored to have my fans respond to me in such positive ways. It's weird for me, because I don't see myself as being any different than they are," Punk says while signing another picture. "I'm a big fan of this business as well."
5:24 p.m., Letting Loose
Five days away from his Money in the Bank Ladder Match at WrestleMania XXIV, the Straightedge Superstar tells jokes in order to cease all silence during the ride to an autograph signing at Wal-Mart Supercenter. CM Punk can't hold back his laughter when trying to explain his newly self-created word -- hangry. "It's a combination of the words hungry and angry," he says. However, there are no worries about the Straightedge Superstar being "hangry" before his meet and greet with more than 300 fans. Since he had not eaten all day, CM Punk makes a pit stop at a nearby Chipotle for a chicken and rice burrito.
4:26 p.m., Home is Where You Make It
Instead of the usual one-night stays before going to the next city, WrestleMania provides Superstars with stability while on the road. Superstars will have five days to spend with family and friends, soaking up the Florida sun and taking advantage of Orlando theme parks. Punk finds staying in Florida for a few days rewarding. Once he checks into his hotel room, he makes sure to modify his environment to make himself feel more at home. He playfully describes himself as a "vampire." "I immediately close the drapes and curtains to make it as dark as I possibly can. Then, I turn the air conditioner down as low as it possibly can go," he says.
4:14 p.m., Dude, Where's My Car?
To some of our fans, the life of a WWE Superstar is a journey filled with preferential treatment, red-carpet arrivals and people whose sole duty it is to wait on them hand and foot. Former ECW Champion Punk dispels that myth. If it were true, Punk probably would not be in Orlando International Airport's huge parking lot, lost trying to locate his rental car -- a gold Toyota FJ Cruiser he calls his "life-size Tonka truck."
3:51 p.m., Out in the Open
CM Punk has no qualms about opening up about his personal life. When asked if there's anything people don't know about him, Punk's response is one-of-a-kind. Punk reaches into his back pocket and tosses his wallet on the counter. "This is my George Constanza wallet. I got this wallet when I was 15 years old. I never bothered cleaning it out. You might be able to come across old school ID cards in there."
3:41 p.m., Magic Kingdom Arrival
Punk arrives in the Sunshine State focused on his six opponents at WrestleMania XXIV. CM Punk, one of sports-entertainment's most recognizable Superstars in the world, surprisingly makes his way to the rental car counter with little disturbance -- largely because he is sporting a black hoodie sweatshirt and baseball cap. "I was able to escape any craziness. There were tons of people around and no one saw me, which is good," says the Straightedge Superstar, with a playful grin on his face.