On Sunday at WWE’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, where CM Punk meets Ryback for the WWE championship in the Cell, Punk will have held the gold for 343 days.
While it’s easy to look into the future, including a tantalizing possible matchup with The Rock and what many would hope to be a headlining bout at WrestleMania 29, CM Punk is doing anything but that, focusing primarily on his opponent Sunday.
“I’m glad [I’m facing Ryback]," CM Punk said in a phone interview Tuesday. “I think you take a look at Ryback and he’s your typical WWE wrestler. He’s what Vince McMahon likes. My choice was John Cena or Ryback. Cena’s gotten shot after shot after shot. To me, the change I talked about a year-and-a-half ago was about new people stepping up, getting shots, so you know I’m excited it’s something new, it’s something different, I can sink my teeth into it.”
CM Punk may not have necessarily been initially what “Vince McMahon likes,” but he knows who he has liked in pro wrestling history, and it is evident in his style in the ring.
“I think [my style is] an amalgamation of a lot of the guys I like. There’s a little bit of Piper in there, there’s a whole lot of Terry Funk when you look at it. I grew up a wrestling fan so to be doing what my 'heroes' were doing when I was a kid, it’s fun. I have fun out there.”
Two days after Hell in a Cell on Oct. 30, THQ’s latest blockbuster video game offering, WWE ’13, is released in North America. Punk is on the cover of WWE ’13 and couldn’t be happier about it.
“Every kid’s dream is to be in a video game, and being on the cover is that much better. I think it’s very cool. [I’m] not as big [a video game player] as most but when you are in video games I think you tend to play them. The THQ WWE games are always awesome and being on the cover I sort of get a free copy, it’s fun to play.”
One item sports fans may be quick to note is the “Madden Curse,” which has seen many cover athletes of sports franchises go on to have lackluster seasons, sometimes including suspensions and injury. Randy Orton, who was on the cover of WWE ’12, has been through a roller-coaster year since the game’s release. CM Punk doesn’t believe in superstition.
“Black cats cross my path all the time. I’ll break a mirror. I have no regard for superstition," he said.
“One of the Blu-Ray exclusives is me beating the snot out of Kofi [Kingston] in video games," Punk said.
By the 2013 Royal Rumble, where fans are eagerly anticipating a championship encounter with The Rock, CM Punk will could potentially have held the WWE’s most prestigious title for 435 days. Punk looks forward to what could become the biggest match of his career.
“I set goals and I like to reach them and accomplish new things," he said. "Doing the same old thing every day, week in and week out, it gets boring. I’m all about new challenges, new opponents. If me vs. The Rock is the biggest match of my career, then I have something to look forward to, I have something to get out of bed in the morning for, I have something that motivates me in the gym, I have something that motivates me in the ring to get better, to be better so that when I face The Rock I am the best.”
If CM Punk somehow holds the gold until WrestleMania 29, he will have been champion for 505 days. In recent months, CM Punk has teased retirement, particularly on Twitter, admitting that his retirement may come “sooner than you may think”, even going so far as to note 2015 may be his last year. Though many of Punk’s tweets are in jest regarding the topic of hanging up the boots, he has only one milestone left to achieve.
“Wrestlemania main event, that’s literally the last thing," he said. "I’ve proven that I can carry the ball, I’ve proven that I can steer the ship, I’ve done everything else I possibly can. To me time’s running out, it’s either now or never.”
If retirement comes sooner than later, Punk credits John Cena to be his best rival inside the ring.
“If my career ended tomorrow, because of the Madden Curse, of course, I think everyone would look back and say that John Cena was my best opponent, and honestly vice-versa," he said. "I think the story of John Cena and CM Punk is captivating and I definitely think that once all the dust settles and you look back and to me, it’s this era’s Hogan-Savage. It’s Bret-Shawn.”
Watch the interview with CM Punk here:
WWE Hell in a Cell is on pay-per-view Sunday. CM Punk meets Ryback for the WWE championship in a Hell in a Cell match.
WWE’s DVD release “CM Punk: Best In The World” is available for purchase on WWE Shop: