ECW gets Punked

Meet CM Punk. One of ECW’s newest extremists, Punk is straight-edge, which means he doesn’t smoke, drink or do drugs. Instead, he has said that his vice is winning, and his obsession is competition.

On Tuesday night, Punk defeated Justin Credible in his ECW on Sci Fi debut. While he’s certainly no newcomer to the business, Punk admitted that he still felt the butterflies before the match.

“Yeah, I was a little nervous, but I've been doing this for a while so I knew I’d be okay,” Punk told "Though (before the match) I did kind of wish that it was Wednesday morning already, just to get it all behind me and hopefully have a good start.”

With his first victory coming over a former ECW World Champion, Punk’s appetite for competition has only increased. And when asked which Extremist he most wants to face in the ring, Punk needed no time at all to make his preference known.

“Hands down Kurt Angle, definitely,” he replied immediately. “I think his work ethic is right up there with mine, not only in how he wrestles but how he competes in everything. He wants to be the best, and he lives, breathes, eats, sleeps and drinks wrestling from the time he wakes up until the time he goes to bed, just like me.”

Punk vs. Angle may be a dream match for the ECW fans, who are known as some of the most passionate fans in sports-entertainment. And while the Hammerstein Ballroom may not be the old ECW Arena, its atmosphere is just as electric; one needs only to watch One Night Stand or Tuesday’s ECW on Sci Fi to see how crazy the Hammerstein atmosphere can be. For Punk, however, debuting in an ECW hotbed like New York City only made the experience that much sweeter.

“I always remember hearing the ECW alumni say that if you could make it at the ECW Arena or be a star in front of the true ECW fans, you can make it anywhere,” Punk said before his match. “I know they (ECW fans) are some of the toughest fans to please, so I'm up for that challenge. If I can blow the roof off the place and have a strong showing, I think I can make it anywhere.”

The fans seemed to be behind Punk at the Hammerstein, no doubt instilling a good feeling inside of him. But despite that, Punk knows that there will always be dissenters, and that his lifestyle choice may factor into their feelings.

“When you have guys like Sandman, who drinks and spits beer all over the fans and they love it, then it might be 50/50 on me,” he joked. “But I think people respect me because I'm not trying to shove it (being straight-edge) down their throats. I do think some people will go out of their way to be abrasive about it, but I've dealt with that all my life.”

Punk went on to further explain his lifestyle choice, saying that it’s not something he does to please anyone but himself.

“There are people just like me who go out of their way to ruin other people's fun; I'm straight-edge for myself and myself only, because it's what I believe I need to do to make it,” he explained. “I’m not trying to shove it down anyone’s throat, but I'm sure there will be some hecklers.”

In fact, Punk actually looks forward to that dissension.

“For as many fans as I may already have, there are twice as many that have never seen me or may hate me,” Punk said. “Those that don't like me, the haters...they’re actually more of a help to me than someone saying they liked my match or they can't wait to see me. My whole life everyone has doubted me, and that's the inspiration that I need.”

And while he’s not going to flaunt his lifestyle, Punk did tell that he hopes it will make him a positive role model.

“If through being on television I can get just one kid to realize that he doesn't need drugs or alcohol and can be different by following his own path, then that's what I'm looking forward to.”

So whether the fans love him or hate him, just being in ECW is an accomplishment that Punk is very proud of.

“This is the biggest stage I've ever competed on. So if I can make it on the bigger stage and reach more people, that would mean everything to me,” Punk said passionately.

In fact, Punk has a few words of advice for the fans that can only help him get there.

“Keep watching Sci Fi and supporting ECW. I hear people say that it’s not the same as the original ECW, but it's not meant to be. Like anything else, it’s evolved, and it’s now something better and grander. Wait and see it develop and see how good it can be.”

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