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Following CM Punk Day 4
Following CM Punk - Day 4
By Brandon Campbell with photos by Rich Freeda
March 29, 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.
10:22 p.m. -- Night of Legends
The Straightedge Superstar is in the audience to honor the 2008 WWE Hall of Fame Inductees. "I will never retire," shouts the Nature Boy during his induction speech. Punk jumps to his feet in reaction to the legend's declaration.
6:29 p.m. -- Flair's Night
CM Punk stops by Ric Flair's dressing room before the "Nature Boy" is inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, becoming the first active Superstar to achieve the honor.
"The words ‘living legend' are thrown around a lot, especially in this business. I think Ric Flair earned a spot in the Hall of Fame 20 years ago," Punk says. "He's definitely the most deserving guy I've ever been privileged enough to work with. It blows my mind that I can say I worked with Ric Flair in tag team matches."
6:08 p.m. -- Living the Dream
Punk talks to WWE Hall of Famer the "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes to hear his thoughts on inducting his mentor, Eddie Graham, into the 2008 WWE Hall of Fame. "You don't get a lot of father figures in the business. I've known Dusty for quite a while," Punk says. "He always told me to be patient, because he knew good things would happen. He has always pulled for me. He's definitely on my side. It's always flattering to know I can call on Dusty whenever I need some advice."
5:46 p.m. -- Hey, Mick
The Straightedge Superstar credits Mick Foley, a three-time WWE Champion, for playing an intricate role in his career. Punk and Foley met during a time when Punk was an underground legend on the independent wrestling scene. Today, Punk considers Foley a mentor. "I'm very fortunate. Mick saw something in me and literally told everyone who was anybody in the business about me."
12:30 p.m. -- Punk's Got a Girlfriend…?
"There are so many things I want to tell you and say to you. But to sum it all up, you're the best. Good luck tomorrow … With lots of love, Ariel Devletian," Punk reads aloud. No fan goes unappreciated by Punk, who reads the handmade letter given to him earlier at the WrestleMania Reading Challenge Finals by a young female WWE fan. "I think it's rad that someone genuinely took the time to do this and wish me luck at WrestleMania."
11:48 a.m. - Oh My … Moment No. 4
"And one of the winners of this year's Reading Challenge, who will get front row tickets to WrestleMania XXIV is … Ajoura Gwinn of Pittsburgh," the Straightedge Superstar announces. "Punk presenting me with this award made winning even more special, because it just made the experience more real," says Gwinn, 16, a 10th grader at Steel Valley Senior High School. "I'm even more excited about going to WrestleMania to see WWE Superstars compete in the biggest event of the year. Punk is wicked sweet. He's going to win the Money in the Bank Match. Yeah, I know he's going to win." Punk reflects on his day at the library: "Today was awesome. I think it's great anytime I can do anything with kids, whether it's encouraging them to read or to say no to drugs. Anything like that, I'm totally down with."
10:53 a.m. -- Punk Rushed
During the WrestleMania Reading Challenge Finals, young Ariel rushes to the stage to offer her favorite Superstar a handmade card before being asked to return to her seat. "I guess that's how I affect people. It's kind of weird to come to terms with that, but it comes with the territory. My fans are important to me, so I always do my best to go that extra mile," Punk says.
10:06 a.m. -- Shhhh … This is a Library
When Punk steps onstage at the Orlando Public Library to read questions to high school competitors in the WrestleMania Reading Challenge, he is met with thunderous applause from the spectators. Fans chant Punk's name, and one female yells out, "Punk, I love your tattoos." The Straightedge Superstar offers his thanks, then says, "I get a kick out of that we're in a library and you guys are allowed to scream. That's awesome!"
9:44 a.m. -- They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To
The Straightedge Superstar checks out Orlando Public Library's book collection. At 290,000 square feet, the downtown library is the largest in Florida. The library is stacked with thousands of books, has a fully-equipped Internet lounge and boasts its own café. Punk, usually the laid-back Superstar, is awestruck. "I haven't been in a library in a long time, so it's kind of cool to be back in one," says the Straightedge Superstar. "Whoa, libraries have changed a lot. When I used to do my studies in the library, students weren't allowed to make any noise. That's the reason why I think no one liked going to the library, but nowadays they're encouraging more of a fun atmosphere and that will just encourage kids to read more."