Fightin' Fanboys

Fightin' Fanboys: WWE's CM Punk

As the Straight Edge Superstar heads to WrestleMania, we talk with him about his love for comics and kickin' butt

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CM Punk Photos © 2010 World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

By Arune Singh

WWE Superstar CM Punk
Every week on "WWE Friday Night SmackDown," there's one superstar who draws the ire of fans more than anyone else, even though he's trying to lead them on the path to salvation...of a sort. Meet CM Punk, the self-styled "Straight Edge Superstar" of the WWE Universe, whose only goal is to rid the world of addiction to alcohol and drugs by converting people to the straight edge lifestyle. Unfortunately for non-believers, rejection of Punk's ideals often leads to a brutal beat down by his Straight Edge Society. On the verge of Punk's hotly-anticipated WrestleMania 26 match with Rey Mysterio, Marvel.Com spoke with the WWE superstar about his love for comics and appearing on the grandest stage of them all.

Like many comic book fans, Punk's passion began at a young age, he explained. "My first job was at a comic book store and Larry Hama's G.I. JOE is what got me into comics. It's funny because it's such a well-written book and to start off reading that really set the bar high. I initially read it because I was a fan of the cartoon, the toys and all that, but the comic was so sophisticated, so sleek and so different from the cartoon. Then I discovered comic shops once Gas City [a gas station franchise with attached stores] stopped carrying comic books and I couldn't get my monthly G.I. JOE fix.

"There was a comic shop called All American Comics right near my grandpa's house. I remember being a little kid, hanging out in his old, above ground pool where I'd hang out in the summer, then walk across the street to Brown's Chicken, right near All American. We'd hang out there a lot and eventually I worked there for a lot of years, which is what really got me into comics. You wind up working in a comic shop and you end up reading and collecting everything there is to read and collect."

Transforming passion into a prosperous career also describes how Punk made his way into the world of sports entertainment. "Yeah, absolutely, that's it," he explained. "Three things that have been with me the longest are punk rock, comic books and getting in the ring."

THE PUNISHER #1
As an intense, lethal competitor inside the squared circle, CM Punk's known for his take-no-prisoners attitude and his favorite Marvel character isn't too different. "I was always and still am a big fan of the Punisher," he revealed. "I think it's interesting because when I was a kid--and I think this is true for a lot of people--the characters are what drew me in, but now I'm 31 years old and follow writers. I had never read a Captain America comic book until [Ed] Brubaker started writing it because I thought Cap was boring and cheesy. Same reason I hate Superman--the 'boy scout' stuff doesn't appeal to me. But I can buy into the grittier, more realistic stuff that's [currently] happening in CAPTAIN AMERICA. Truthfully, I was never really a big X-Men fan when I was a kid. I read the stuff because that's what was cool and hot in the '90s--everyone read the [Chris] Claremont and [Jim] Lee stuff. Everyone got caught in the hype with all that stuff coming up that I think I read it by default, but my tastes changed. Punisher's always stuck with me. I always loved the idea of Frank Castle. It's also an easy transition to go from G.I. JOE to Punisher--both have military aspects."

The Thing
As any WWE fan will tell you, comics and sports entertainment have a lot in common, from larger-than-life characters to compelling storylines. Those commonalities allow for CM Punk to channel his inner super hero--or, as has been the case of late, his inner super villain--when in front of millions on WWE programming. "I've said 'It's Clobberin' when I come through the curtain ever since 1997. I like the Thing--he smashes and I can totally relate--but it's also inspired by a New York hardcore band called Sick Of It All. They adopted it and wrote a song called 'It's Clobberin' Time". So, I was able to bring these two things that have been with me forever--punk rock and comic books--over into the ring.

"I also had this great idea to use secondary colors when I'm a bad guy just like all the Marvel villains use secondary colors. I had an idea to get a Doctor Doom outfit together but I don't know if I could pull off the cloak and the mask [laughs]. I definitely carry myself as a villain when I'm out there, especially working with someone like Rey, who kids see as Spider-Man, I need to carry myself like I am a super villain. Doctor Doom's pretty awesome!"

Something else that's been with the Straight Edge Superstar forever is his aforementioned love for G.I. Joe, as Punk sports an impressive Cobra tattoo on his right shoulder, and he gets to live out a dream working with the legendary Sgt. Slaughter. Slaughter, a WWE Hall of Famer, was famously inserted into the G.I. mythos and became one of the series most popular characters--and Punk's a fan. "To be honest, I think he gets constantly annoyed when I ask him G.I. Joe questions," admitted Punk with a smile. "He tells me it was cool to do but I ask him about doing voiceover work with Don Johnson on the G.I. Joe cartoon and he just looks at me like, 'what're you talking about?' So I'm like, 'never mind' [Laughs]"

WWE Superstar CM Punk
While they're not quite G.I. Joe or the Avengers, CM Punk's amassed a formidable force in his Straight Edge Society, comprised of Luke Gallows and Serena. Both "saved" by Punk on national television, in elaborate ceremonies involving hair clippers and a pledge of allegiance, Serena and Gallows have provided Punk with intimidating teammates. Asked about who he'd like to "save" from the Marvel Universe and convert to the Straight Edge lifestyle, Punk had only one answer. "Captain America. Why? Because he's used the super soldier serum to be a hero and I can't condone any unnatural substances in the body. He needs to be saved."

The Straight Edge Society also knows who they'd have in their crosshairs, were they to venture from the WWE Universe to the Marvel Universe. "There's a lot of people who need to be taught a lesson," Punk affirmed. "Wolverine absolutely needs to quit smoking. Nick Fury, too--the guy's always got a cigar in his mouth. And, since I hate him, I'd take pleasure in beating Captain America."

With all these heroes in opposition to CM Punk, one has to wonder--is there anyone in the Marvel Universe with whom Punk would welcome a comparison? "I'd like to say no one compares, but also trying to think of someone really I can compare myself to [Laughs]. I'm Captain America without the super soldier serum. I stand up for truth and justice."

Like Captain America, he'd also be willing to take a Marvel hero or two under his wing--something he's doing with WWE rookie Darren Young on Tuesday night's WWE NXT. "I was a fan of the original New Warriors and I liked Speedball. I know what they've done with him now, but I mean the original Speedball character would be a lot of fun for the Straight Edge Society."

Doctor Doom
But if he were to seek a mentor in the Marvel Universe, there could only be one man. "Doctor Doom. Man, I'd love to learn sorcery."

And when it comes to Punk's impressive beard, even Marvel's mightiest facial hair--courtesy of Hercules--doesn't stand a chance. "I definitely have the better beard. Hercules has been growing his beard for how long? I grew mine in 3 months and it's awesome."

Even if Marvel's characters might find themselves at odds with CM Punk, the creators sure won't, as Punk is quick to say he's a devoted fan of writers such as Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker. "I like guys like that," he said. "I was in a comic shop yesterday and I saw PUNISHER NOIR came out--I definitely want that. I read DAREDEVIL NOIR and that was good. I picked up the first two THOR BY JMS TPBS and they were great. I've been reading all the Bendis stuff like DARK AVENGERS and I'm really enjoying THUNDERBOLTS."

The Straight Edge Superstar is also enjoying the build-up to the feature film "Iron Man 2," calling "Iron Man" his favorite Marvel movie yet. And when it comes to potentially appearing in a Marvel film, Punk's game for anything. "If anyone at Marvel Studios wants to cast me in a comic book movie I'll do it justice. I just love this universe. I'll be Hawkeye. I'd even be, I don't know, the Shocker. I'll do whatever it takes."

Wrestlemania 24
This Sunday, at WrestleMania 26 on pay-per-view, CM Punk faces off with Rey Mysterio. The two have often been allies, but with Punk as a villain, expect that alliance to be a thing of the past. "I think I was born to be a heel. It's natural to me. I do think I'm a jerk in real life [Laughs]. I'm very excited to have a one-on-one match because I don't have to live or die by what someone else does. This is my match. I get to dictate the pace, control it and tell a great story.

"I can't wait. There's nothing bigger than WrestleMania."

WrestleMania 26 airs live this Sunday, March 28 on pay-per-view with a special start time of 7 p.m. ET. For more information, visit wm26.wwe.com.

 

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