CM Punk

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CM Punk
CM Punk 2.jpg
Birth name Phillip Jack Brooks[1]
Born (1978-10-26) October 26, 1978 (age 36)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.[2]
Resides Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Spouse(s) AJ Lee (m. 2014)
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) CM Punk[3]
Billed height 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)[3]
Billed weight 218 lb (99 kg)[3]
Billed from Chicago, Illinois[3]
Trained by Ace Steel[4]
Danny Dominion[5]
Dave Finlay[6]
Dave Taylor[6]
Kevin Quinn[5]
William Regal[6]
Debut 1999[7]
Retired January 26, 2014[8][9]

Phillip Jack "Phil" Brooks[1] (born October 26, 1978),[2] better known by the ring name CM Punk, is an American mixed martial artist and retired professional wrestler. He is best known for his time in WWE, where he is the longest-reigning WWE Champion of the "modern era" (since Hulk Hogan's 1,474 day reign ended in 1988), having held the title for 434 days from November 20, 2011 to January 27, 2013. His reign is officially recognized as the sixth longest of all time.[10][11]

Punk won multiple world championships during his 15-year wrestling career, including the ROH World Championship and ECW World Championship once each, WWE's World Heavyweight Championship three times, and the WWE Championship twice. He won the World Tag Team Championship (with Kofi Kingston) and the WWE Intercontinental Championship, making him the 19th WWE Triple Crown Champion and the fastest man in WWE history to achieve this feat, in 203 days.[12] He was a two-time ROH World Tag Team Champion (with Colt Cabana as part of the The Second City Saints). Punk also won the 2008 and 2009 Money in the Bank ladder matches (the only wrestler to win the match twice),[13] and the 2011 Superstar of the Year Slammy Award in WWE.[14]

Punk initially came to prominence through his career on the U.S. independent circuit, primarily as a member of the Ring of Honor (ROH) roster, where he was also the first head trainer of the ROH wrestling school. In 2005, he signed a contract with WWE and was sent to its developmental promotion, Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), where he won every championship available in that promotion. In June 2006, Punk made his WWE television debut, performing in ECW, which was then a branch of WWE. In 2011 after his worked but unscripted shoot, he rose to stardom and became a fan favorite on the main WWE roster and remained a company fixture until his acrimonious departure in 2014. Despite his prominence within the company, Punk was never selected to headline WWE's premier annual pay-per-view event, WrestleMania, which became a source of professional dissatisfaction.[15][16]

Throughout his career, Punk consistently used the gimmick of being an outspoken, sharp-tongued, anti-establishment, straight edge iconoclast. His straight edge principles and outspokenness were based on his actual demeanor and way of life when out of character.[5] Depending on his alignment as a fan favorite or villain, he emphasized different aspects of the culture to garner the desired audience reaction.[5] He also trained several wrestlers.[17]

Following his retirement from professional wrestling, Punk signed a deal with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and began to pursue a career in mixed martial arts, planning to begin fighting in 2015.

Professional wrestling career

Early career (1999–2000)

CM Punk in a match against Danny Dominion at an NWA Midwest event on November 23, 2002 in Grayslake, Illinois

Punk's first venture into wrestling was a stint in a backyard wrestling federation called the Lunatic Wrestling Federation with his friends and brother Mike Brooks in the mid-late 1990s. He first started using the ring name CM Punk when he was put into a tag team named the Chick Magnets with CM Venom after another performer skipped out on the card.[5][18][19] Unlike his friends, Punk genuinely wanted to be a wrestler and saw it as more than simple fun.[5] When the promotion started taking off, doing spot shows out of a warehouse in Mokena, Illinois, Punk found out that his brother Mike had embezzled thousands of dollars from the small company, causing them to become estranged. They have not spoken since.[20]

He soon left the federation and enrolled as a student at the "Steel Dominion" wrestling school in Chicago, where he was trained by Ace Steel,[4] Danny Dominion and Kevin Quinn to become a professional wrestler. As part of the training, he wrestled at Steel Domain Wrestling in St. Paul, Minnesota.[5][6] It was in the Steel Domain that he met Scott Colton,[21][22] who soon adopted the stage name Colt Cabana. Punk and Cabana became best friends and spent most of their early career together working in the same independent circuit promotions, as opponents or allies.[21] In the independents, along with fellow Steel Domain graduates Colt Cabana, Chuckee Smooth, Adam Pearce, and manager Dave Prazak, Punk formed an alliance named the Gold Bond Mafia.[5]

IWA Mid-South and Pro Wrestling Zero-One (2000–2005)

Punk's home promotion for his early career was considered to be Independent Wrestling Association Mid-South (IWA Mid-South).[5] During Punk's time in IWA:Mid-South, he had high profile feuds with Colt Cabana and Chris Hero while also rising to the top of the roster winning the IWA Mid-South Light Heavyweight Championship twice and the IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Championship on five separate occasions, beating stars like A.J. Styles, Cabana and even Eddie Guerrero for that Championship. Punk's feud with Hero included a 55-minute TLC match,[5] a 93-minute two out of three falls match,[6] and several 60-minute time limit draws.[22]

Punk's matches with Cabana led him to being hired by the Ring of Honor promotion.[6] From February 2003 until May 2004, Punk refused to wrestle for IWA: Mid-South, because he claims that this was in protest to Ian Rotten's mistreatment of Chris Hero in the company.[5] Hero, however, has stated he believes there were other reasons, and Rotten's treatment of him was just an excuse by Punk to stop working for the company.[23] Eventually Punk returned to IWA: Mid-South and continued to perform as a wrestler and commentator for them until 2005 when he was signed to World Wrestling Entertainment. His last appearance in IWA: Mid-South was on July 2, 2005 in which he competed in a 60-minute time limit draw against Delirious.[24]

On August 1, 2003, Punk wrestled for Japanese promotion Pro Wrestling ZERO-ONE on the final day of its 2003 Fire Festival at Korakuen Hall, teaming with C.W. Anderson, Josh Daniels, and Vansack Acid in an eight-man tag team match against Ikuto Hidaka, Jun Kasai, Naohiro Hoshikawa, and Tatsuhito Takaiwa; Punk's team was defeated.[25]

Ring of Honor and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling

Storyline with Raven (2002–2004)

Initially, Punk joined Ring of Honor (ROH) as a face,[5] but quickly became a heel in a feud with Raven that featured numerous variants of no disqualification matches.[26] Their rivalry lasted most of 2003 and was considered one of ROH's top feuds of the year,[27] and was based around Punk's straight-edge lifestyle, with him likening Raven to his alcoholic father.[28] Their rivalry was settled at The Conclusion in November 2003, where Punk defeated Raven in a Steel Cage match.[26] At the same time, Punk joined the wrestling promotion NWA Total Nonstop Action (TNA), in which he was paired with Julio Dinero as members of Raven's TNA alliance The Gathering.[5]

CM Punk during a cage match against Raven at Ring of Honor's The Conclusion on November 28, 2003, in Fairfield, Connecticut

Punk started climbing the ranks of ROH, including coming in second at the Second Anniversary Show during the tournament to crown the first ROH Pure Champion, losing to A.J. Styles in the finals[26] and winning the ROH Tag Team Championship twice with Colt Cabana as the Second City Saints. Both times Punk and Cabana defeated the Briscoe Brothers to win the championship.[29] Circa October 2003, Punk was hired as the first head trainer of the Ring of Honor wrestling school,[5][30] having previously been a trainer for the Steel Domain[5] and Primetime Wrestling.[31]

Shortly before a TNA show on February 25, 2004, Punk had a physical scuffle with Teddy Hart outside of a restaurant that was broken up by Sabu. The scuffle reportedly stemmed from an ROH show in which Hart performed three unplanned spots putting several other wrestlers in danger of injury.[32][33] Around the time of the scuffle, Punk and Dinero stopped appearing on TNA shows, leading to speculation he was fired for the incident.[34] Punk, however, said the scuffle had no bearing on his TNA career.[34] He said the reason he and Dinero stopped appearing on TNA pay-per-views was that TNA officials believed that he and Dinero had not connected with the fans as villains, having turned against the popular Raven and instead formed a villainous tag team managed by James Mitchell.[34] The officials decided that as the teams as villains was not working decided to put the storyline on hold indefinitely, and thus had no work for Punk or Dinero.[34] Punk officially quit TNA in March 2004 during the Rob Feinstein controversy, after having a dispute with the TNA offices over his ability to compete in ROH following a TNA order that their contracted wrestlers were to no longer wrestle in ROH.[35]

"Summer of Punk" (2004–2005)

In ROH, Punk faced off against ROH World Champion Samoa Joe for the championship in a three match series. The first match, on June 12, 2004 at World Title Classic in Dayton, Ohio, resulted in a 60-minute time limit draw when neither Punk nor Joe could pin or cause the other to submit in the 60 minutes. The second match between Punk and Joe was planned for December 4, 2004; however, due to Steve Corino being pulled from a match with Joe by Pro Wrestling ZERO-ONE, the second match was hastily rescheduled on October 11, 2004 for October 16 in Punk's hometown of Chicago.[22] At Joe vs. Punk II on October 16, they wrestled to a second 60-minute draw.[26] In addition to Joe vs. Punk II becoming Ring of Honor's best-selling DVD at the time, the match received a five-star rating by Dave Meltzer's Wrestling Observer Newsletter. It was the first match in North America to receive a five-star rating in seven years, the last one being the Hell in a Cell match between Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker at Badd Blood: In Your House in 1997.[22] Joe ended the series by defeating Punk in the third and final match on December 4, 2004 at All-Star Extravaganza 2 in which there was a no time limit stipulation.[26]

CM Punk in Ring of Honor in 2003

After a try-out match on May 9, 2005 (which aired May 15)[36] where he lost to Val Venis on the Sunday Night Heat show, Punk accepted a deal offered by World Wrestling Entertainment in June. Even though he had accepted the deal, Punk went on to defeat Austin Aries with his Pepsi Plunge move, winning the ROH World Championship on June 18, 2005 at Death Before Dishonor III.[29] Immediately after the match, Punk proceeded to become a villain and started a storyline where he threatened to bring the ROH World Championship to WWE with him. For weeks, Punk teased the ROH locker room and the ROH fans as well as mocking the championship he possessed, going so far as to sign his WWE contract on it. During the storyline, referred to by ROH as the "Summer of Punk",[37] Mick Foley made several ROH appearances, attempting to convince Punk to do the right thing and defend the title on his way out. On August 12, 2005 in Dayton, Ohio, Punk lost the ROH World Championship to James Gibson in a four corner elimination match consisting of himself, Gibson, Samoa Joe and Christopher Daniels.[29] Punk's final scheduled match in Ring of Honor took place at Punk: The Final Chapter on August 13, 2005 against long-time friend Colt Cabana in a two out of three falls match, which he lost.[26] In his last match, Punk was visibly crying and was showered with streamers when he posed in the middle of the ring.

Punk made a special appearance at the ROH show Unscripted II on February 11, 2006, when the original card had to be scrapped due to Low Ki leaving ROH the week prior.[26] In addition, most of the ROH roster contracted to TNA were pulled from the show because of a snowstorm that TNA officials thought might prevent performers from reaching a pay-per-view scheduled the next day.[38][39] In the main event, Punk teamed with Bryan Danielson to defeat Jimmy Rave and Adam Pearce in a tag team match.[39]

World Wrestling Entertainment/WWE

Ohio Valley Wrestling (2005–2006)

In September 2005, Punk was assigned to Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), a WWE developmental territory. He made his debut on September 8, 2005, in a dark match, where he, Nigel McGuinness and Paul Burchill were defeated by Deuce Shade, Elijah Burke and Seth Skyfire.[40] On September 26, 2005 in his OVW television debut, Punk suffered a ruptured eardrum and broken nose after Danny Inferno hit him with an overly stiff right hand. Despite the injury, Punk finished the match and quickly recovered.[41][42]

On November 9, 2005, Punk became the OVW Television Champion after defeating Ken Doane,[41] which immediately led to a feud between Punk and Brent Albright, who had previously been feuding with Doane for the Television Championship and had lost his chance to wrestle Doane after Punk hit him with a chair so he himself could wrestle Doane. They wrestled in series of matches, including one that ended in overtime with Albright having Punk submit to Albright's finisher, the Crowbar, but Punk was able to keep the championship, as he had not agreed to the extra time.[41] On January 4, 2006, Punk lost the OVW Television Championship during a three way dance among himself, Albright and Doane. Doane was injured halfway through the match and was replaced by Aaron "The Idol" Stevens. Punk submitted to Albright's Crowbar and was eliminated, but he returned later in the match to distract Albright allowing Stevens to pin Albright and become the new OVW Television Champion.[43] Albright and Punk then briefly teamed. They became opponents again after Punk denied Albright the respect he demanded and proceeded to continually "punk him out" (get the better of him). This feud continued for weeks with Punk always coming out on top, until a double turn occurred on February 1, 2006. Albright turned heel during a tag match, allowing the Spirit Squad to beat Punk, turning him face.[43] Punk had a minor appearance at WrestleMania 22 on April 2, 2006 as one of the gangsters who rode a 1930s era car to the ring before John Cena's entrance.[44]

After Matt Cappotelli vacated the OVW Heavyweight Championship because of a brain tumor in February 2006, a tournament was held to crown a new champion. The finals were Brent Albright vs. CM Punk with Albright defeating Punk to become the new champion.[43] Punk and Albright continued their feud, with Albright becoming more unstable and paranoid about maintaining his championship after several close call matches against Punk, resulting in acts such as threatening Maria. On May 3, 2006, Punk finally defeated Albright in a strap match to win the OVW Heavyweight Championship.[43] As champion, Punk retained the title in matches against opponents such as Shad Gaspard,[43] Ken Kennedy,[43] Johnny Jeter[43] and Mike "The Miz" Mizanin.[45]

On July 28, 2006, Punk and Seth Skyfire defeated Shad Gaspard and the Neighborhoodie to win the OVW Southern Tag Team Championship at a house show.[46] They lost the Tag Team Championship on August 2, 2006 to Deuce Shade and "Domino" Cliff Compton after an injured Skyfire tagged in an already injured Punk.[43] This altercation led to a feud between Punk and Skyfire after a rematch for the Tag Team Championship on August 7, 2006 in which a healthy Punk purposefully tagged in an injured Skyfire to be beaten by Shade and Compton.[43] On August 30, 2006, a match was scheduled to take place between Punk and Skyfire for the OVW Heavyweight Championship. Prior to the match, however, Skyfire was attacked by Charles "The Hammer" Evans, with whom Skyfire had also been feuding, and was replaced in the match by Chet Jablonski (Chet the Jet) who pinned Punk to win the OVW Heavyweight Championship.[43] As Punk no longer possessed the championship, OVW no longer required him. He was removed from the roster and brought up to the WWE roster full-time. He continued to make sporadic appearances for OVW, such as on their 400th TV episode,[43] until WWE and OVW ended their developmental partnership on February 7, 2008.[47]

ECW Champion (2006–2008)

Punk with a portrait as the ECW Champion in 2008

On June 24, 2006, Punk made his ECW debut during a house show at the former ECW Arena, defeating Stevie Richards.[48] He made his TV debut on the July 4 ECW on Sci Fi, cutting a brief pre-taped promo about his straight edge lifestyle emphasizing the disciplinary aspects of being drug and alcohol free.[49] Although he had retained the straight edge gimmick, he now had a Muay Thai training background. Punk made his TV wrestling debut on August 1, 2006 at the Hammerstein Ballroom, defeating Justin Credible.[50] CM Punk established himself in ECW by going undefeated, defeating opponents such as Christopher W. Anderson,[51] Stevie Richards[52] and Shannon Moore.[53]

Soon after, Punk began feuding with Mike Knox after Knox's girlfriend, Kelly Kelly, was seen to have feelings for Punk.[53] Punk defeated Knox in their first singles match (qualifying for the Extreme Elimination Chamber at December to Dismember in the process)[54] as well as the rematch, after which Kelly Kelly celebrated CM Punk's victory over her boyfriend.[55] Punk then teamed with D-Generation X and the Hardy Boyz in their Survivor Series match against Rated-RKO, Knox, Johnny Nitro and Gregory Helms, a match in which all the participants on DX's side survived elimination.[56] At December to Dismember, Punk participated in the Elimination Chamber for the ECW World Championship; however, he was the first person eliminated by Rob Van Dam.[57]

Punk as ECW Champion on September 30, 2007, in Hammond, Indiana

Following the pay-per-view, Punk entered into a feud with Hardcore Holly, who ended Punk's six-month unbeaten streak in singles competition on January 9, 2007.[58] Punk went on to feud with Matt Striker, who gave him his second singles loss since being in ECW on January 30.[59] Punk then qualified for the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania 23 by defeating Johnny Nitro.[60] In the final week leading up to WrestleMania 23, Punk made appearances on both Raw and Friday Night SmackDown!, defeating Kenny Dykstra[61] and former World Heavyweight Champion King Booker,[62] respectively. At WrestleMania 23, Punk competed in, but did not win, the Money in the Bank ladder match, being knocked off the ladder just seconds before the winner, Mr. Kennedy, claimed the briefcase.[63]

On the April 10, 2007 ECW on Sci Fi, Punk briefly became a villain by officially joining the New Breed alliance,[64] after several weeks in which both the New Breed and the ECW Originals had attempted to recruit him.[65][66] Two weeks later, however, Punk betrayed the New Breed during a four on four elimination match between the New Breed and ECW Originals by kicking New Breed leader Elijah Burke in the back of the head and costing them the match. After the match, Punk proceeded to deliver his finisher, the Go To Sleep, on Burke and sarcastically apologized before leaving the ring alone, becoming a fan favorite again. later confirmed that Punk was no longer a member of the New Breed.[67] At Judgment Day, Punk wrestled and defeated Burke in his first singles match on a pay-per-view.[68] Punk then went on to One Night Stand and teamed up with Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman in a tables match to defeat the New Breed.[69]

When ECW Champion Bobby Lashley was drafted to Raw and stripped of the ECW Championship, a tournament to declare a new champion was held, with Punk, Elijah Burke, Marcus Cor Von and Chris Benoit. Punk defeated Marcus Cor Von on the June 19 ECW on Sci Fi. He was meant to face Chris Benoit at Vengeance: Night of Champions for the ECW Championship,[70] but Benoit was hastily replaced by Johnny Nitro when Benoit no-showed, after killing his family and self. Nitro subsequently defeated Punk at Vengeance for the vacant championship.[71] Punk won another shot at the title at The Great American Bash against Nitro, who had changed his moniker to John Morrison by this point; however, Punk was defeated again by Morrison.[72] The next week, Punk challenged Elijah Burke and Tommy Dreamer in a triple threat match to determine the next competitor in Morrison's 15 Minutes of Fame Challenge, in which Punk came out victorious.[73] A week later, Punk defeated Morrison with the Go To Sleep to earn an ECW Championship title match at SummerSlam. At SummerSlam, however, Punk lost the match when Morrison used the ropes for leverage.[74]

At the September 1, 2007 (aired September 4) ECW taping, in a "last chance" title match, Punk defeated Morrison for the ECW Championship.[75] Punk then went on to have successful title defenses against the likes of Elijah Burke (at Unforgiven),[76] Big Daddy V via disqualification (at No Mercy)[77] and The Miz (at Cyber Sunday).[78] On the November 6, 2007 ECW, Punk retained the ECW Championship in a match against Morrison following The Miz's interference.[79] At Survivor Series, Punk retained his title in a Triple Threat match, beating The Miz and John Morrison.[80] On the January 22, 2008 ECW, Chavo Guerrero defeated CM Punk in a No Disqualification match to win the ECW Championship after Edge, (acting as a guest commentator at ringside) ran in and speared Punk.[81]

World Heavyweight Champion (2008–2009)

CM Punk in April 2008 with his first of two Money in the Bank briefcases

At WrestleMania XXIV, Punk won the Money in the Bank ladder match, after defeating Chris Jericho, Montel Vontavious Porter, Shelton Benjamin, John Morrison, Mr. Kennedy and Carlito.[82]

On the June 23, 2008 Raw, CM Punk was drafted to the Raw brand during the 2008 WWE Draft.[83] His first night on Raw came the following week, and he made an immediate impact. After Batista beat down World Heavyweight Champion Edge and left him lying in the ring, Punk and referee Mike Chioda ran to the ring with Punk carrying his Money in the Bank contract. Moments later, as Edge was struggling to get up, Punk hit him with the Go to Sleep and pinned him to win the World Heavyweight Championship (and later, the Slammy Award for the "Oh my God" Moment of the Year.[84]). Later that night, Punk made his first defense of the title against JBL, who had challenged him shortly after his win.[85] Punk continued to hold and defend the title until Unforgiven on September 7, 2008. Before the Championship Scramble match, Punk was attacked by an early version of The Legacy (Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase with Manu). Orton finished the assault by punting Punk in the head.[86] Punk could not participate in the match due to the attack and so forfeited the title. He was replaced by Chris Jericho, who won the match and the title.[87] He received a rematch eight days later on the September 15 Raw, where he failed to regain the title in a steel cage match against Jericho.[88]

CM Punk as World Heavyweight Champion during his first reign at SummerSlam

On the October 27, 2008 Raw, Punk and Kofi Kingston defeated Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase to win the World Tag Team Championship.[89] The duo were members of Team Batista at Survivor Series, where their team lost to Team Orton.[90] Punk then entered in a number one contender Intercontinental Championship Tournament. He defeated Snitsky and John Morrison in the first two rounds.[91] Punk and Kingston lost the World Tag Team Championship to John Morrison and The Miz at a live event on December 13, 2008.[92] The next day Punk defeated Rey Mysterio at Armageddon to win the tournament.[91] On the January 5 Raw, Punk received his title match against William Regal, which ended in a disqualification, when Regal grabbed the referee's jersey.[93] Due to this, Stephanie McMahon awarded Punk a rematch the following week, but this time it was himself that was disqualified.[94] McMahon awarded him another rematch, this time a No Disqualification match on January 19 Raw, Punk won the match and the title.[95] With this win, he became the nineteenth Triple Crown Champion. Also, the victory made him the man to accomplish the Triple Crown in the fastest amount of time, shattering Kevin Nash's old record.[96] Punk lost the title on the March 9 Raw to John "Bradshaw" Layfield.[97] At WrestleMania XXV, Punk won the Money in the Bank ladder match and became the first person to win the match twice.[98]

On April 13, 2009 during the 2009 WWE Draft, Punk was drafted from Raw to SmackDown.[99] In the period after the draft, Punk feuded with Umaga over Umaga's repeated surprise attacks while Punk was attempting to cash in his Money in the Bank Contract. This ultimately resulted in a Samoan strap match at Extreme Rules, which was won by Punk.[100]

At the end of the pay-per-view, Punk cashed in his Money in the Bank contract to defeat Jeff Hardy for the World Heavyweight Championship.[101] Punk retained his title in a Triple Threat match against both Edge and Hardy eight days later on the June 15 Raw.[102] At The Bash in Sacramento, California, Punk lost to Hardy by disqualification after kicking the referee after being afflicted with a storyline eye injury, claiming he could not see the referee, but because titles do not change hands on a disqualification, Punk retained the championship. Hardy called Punk into question about his eye injury, believing he had been feigning it, leading Punk to turn heel, claiming to be the moral superior of those who support Hardy due to his drug-free lifestyle.[103] At Night of Champions, Punk lost the championship to Hardy.[104] Their feud continued through SummerSlam, where Punk regained the title in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match; afterward, Punk was attacked by The Undertaker.[105] On the August 28 Friday Night SmackDown, Punk concluded his program with Hardy and achieved his booked goal of excising him from WWE, defeating Hardy in a steel cage match wherein the loser agreed to leave the company.[106] This earned Punk a second Slammy that December, for 2009's "Shocker of the Year".[107]

At Breaking Point Punk defeated The Undertaker in a submission match to retain the World Heavyweight Championship. Undertaker originally won the match with his Hell's Gate submission hold. SmackDown general manager Theodore Long restarted the match after stating that the ban that former general manager Vickie Guerrero had placed on the move was still in effect. Punk won the match with his Anaconda Vise when referee Scott Armstrong called for the bell despite Undertaker never submitting (reminiscent to the Montreal Screwjob, which took place in the same venue in 1997).[108] The feud between the two continued and at the Hell in a Cell PPV, Punk lost the World Heavyweight Championship to The Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match.[109] He lost two subsequent rematches against The Undertaker on SmackDown and in a Fatal Four Way match at Bragging Rights also involving Batista and Rey Mysterio.[110][111]

Straight Edge Society and New Nexus (2009–2011)

Main articles: Straight Edge Society and Nexus

His character took on a more sinister direction on the November 27 SmackDown when he revealed that he had converted Luke Gallows, who had previously been portrayed as the mentally incompetent wrestler Festus, to the straight-edge lifestyle which had rid him of his mental troubles.[112] Continuing to espouse his straight-edge philosophy, Punk began to present himself as a cult-like savior to the crowd, growing the hair on his head, face and chest in an allusion to Jesus.[113] Through January 2010, Punk began to convert planted members of the audience to a straight-edge lifestyle, making them take a pledge of allegiance to him and shaving their head as a sign of renewal and devotion.[114][115][116] After converting many people who were not seen again, convert Serena began accompanying Punk and Gallows to form the Straight Edge Society.[116][117] As well as leading this alliance, Punk was also the mentor of WWE NXT rookie Darren Young who flirted with the idea of becoming straight-edge before refusing just before his head was to be shaved.[118]

Punk continued to show messianic traits, frequently giving sermons including during the annual Royal Rumble match as well as during an Elimination Chamber match at both of the eponymous pay-per-views.[119][120] In the Chamber match, he was eliminated by Rey Mysterio, whom he had feuding with leading into the PPV. Tensions escalated as Mysterio prevented him from winning a Money in the Bank qualifying match, causing Punk to interrupt Mysterio's celebration of his daughter's ninth birthday.[121] Mysterio challenged Punk to a Street Fight at WrestleMania XXVI but lost to Gallows. Punk added the stipulation that if Rey lost, he would join the Society.[122] At WrestleMania, Punk lost to Mysterio[123] sparking a rematch at Extreme Rules where Punk would have to shave his head, like his disciples, if he lost. Punk won this match after interference from a fourth member of the Society who kept his face covered.[124] At Over The Limit, a third and final match was booked with both stipulations reactivated. In the match Punk lost and was subsequently shaved bald.[125]

Embarrassed by being shaved bald as he considered himself always pure unlike his followers, Punk appeared on the following SmackDown, May 29, wearing a mask to hide his baldness.[126] At Fatal 4-Way, Punk challenged for the World Heavyweight Championship against Mysterio, The Big Show and the champion Jack Swagger, but was unsuccessful when he was attacked by Kane, who was accusing various people of attacking The Undertaker.[127] On July 16's SmackDown, Punk was finally unmasked by Big Show while healing from an arm injury.[128] The following week Show also unmasked the anonymous member of the Straight Edge Society who was revealed to be Joey Mercury.[129] This led to a handicap match at SummerSlam where Show defeated the entire Society after Punk abandoned his teammates.[130] Show also beat Punk in a singles match at Night of Champions.[131] Following this Serena was released from WWE[132] while Mercury became injured,[133] severely thinning the Society. Gallows began showing signs of dissension too, and Punk defeated him on SmackDown, airing September 24, ending the group.[134]

Punk in 2011 as leader of the New Nexus

Punk was traded back to the Raw brand on October 11 after being swapped with Edge. He took part in the interbrand tag team match at Bragging Rights after injuring Evan Bourne to win a place,[135] but the team lost. It was reported later that he was suffering with a hip injury that would stop him from competing.[136] To keep a presence on television, he began commentating on Raw from November 22,[137] having already commentated one NXT. During his commentary, he criticized John Cena for his actions against The Nexus. Sometimes he favored heel wrestlers over face wrestlers. At the end of December, Punk left the commentary team after assaulting John Cena on Raw[138] and SmackDown[139] with a chair. Punk later revealed that his motives for the attacks were that he had joined and assumed control of The Nexus.[140] Punk then made each member of the group prove themselves worthy of a spot, with some choosing to join The Corre, which had been started by former Nexus leader Wade Barrett on SmackDown, instead.

Punk then used the group to attack Randy Orton, blaming him for prematurely ending Punk's first World Heavyweight Championship reign in 2008. Punk and The Nexus cost Orton his match with The Miz for the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble in January 2011. Orton, in turn, responded by taking out all of the New Nexus members by punting them in the head, leaving Punk alone as the sole surviving member of the group. This all led to a WrestleMania XXVII match[141] and a Last Man Standing match at Extreme Rules both of which Punk lost.[142] Punk then spent the next few months involved in filler feuds, often teaming with fellow Nexus members.

WWE Champion (2011–2013)

In June, after pinning WWE Champion John Cena on Raw,[143] Rey Mysterio at Capitol Punishment[144] and finally Alberto Del Rio again in a contendership match (which included Mysterio) all within one week, Punk revealed his contract would expire at Money in the Bank and vowed to leave the company with the WWE Championship; some of his speeches and mannerisms echoed his final months with Ring of Honor. After making a scathing on-air speech concerning the way in which WWE is run and its owner Vince McMahon, he was given a storyline suspension from televised WWE events[145] but was reinstated the following week on Cena's insistence.[146] Upon his return, Punk ceased to appear with the remaining members of Nexus and the group quietly dissolved that month.[147] This helped transition him from a villainous character back to being a fan-favorite. Two weeks later, at Money in the Bank, CM Punk defeated John Cena to become the WWE Champion on his final night under contract with WWE.[146]

On July 21, Punk made a surprise appearance at a joint WWE-Mattel panel at the San Diego Comic Con, to mock new Chief Operating Officer Triple H and offer WWE Championship tournament finalist Rey Mysterio a match for his WWE Championship, as long as it was in Punk's hometown, Chicago.[148][149] Punk appeared at July 23's All American Wrestling show, showing respect to Gregory Iron, a wrestler with cerebral palsy.[150] Mysterio won the WWE Championship tournament on the July 25 Raw, only to lose it to Cena later that night. After Cena's victory, Punk returned to Raw and upstaged the new WWE Champion's victory celebration while also entering into a title dispute. Triple H later upheld both Punk and Cena's claims to the WWE Championship as legitimate and scheduled the two to a match at SummerSlam to decide the undisputed WWE Champion.[151] Punk won, but lost the title minutes later to Alberto Del Rio, who had cashed in his Money in the Bank contract after Kevin Nash attacked Punk.[152]

The night after SummerSlam, Punk accused Nash of conspiring with Triple H to keep Punk away from the WWE Championship.[153] After repeated confrontations Nash and Punk demanded to face each other at Night of Champions, to which Triple H acquiesced. However, after CM Punk's repeated verbal attacks towards him and his wife Stephanie McMahon, Triple H booked himself to replace Nash.[154] At Night of Champions, Punk lost a No Disqualification match after Nash, The Miz, and R-Truth attacked both men.[155] Miz and Truth also attacked Punk at Hell in a Cell after he lost a WWE Championship triple threat match.[156] He attempted to avenge this by teaming with Triple H against Miz and Truth at Vengeance, but lost again due to Nash attacking Triple H.[157] This helped transition Punk's anti-establishment voice from Triple H to John Laurinaitis, who became the interim Raw general manager.[158] CM Punk balked at Laurinaitis' promotion and verbally attacked him as a dull yes man.[159][160]

On October 31, CM Punk strong-armed his way into a match with Del Rio at Survivor Series,[161] where he regained the WWE Championship by way of submission with the Anaconda Vise.[162] He went on to defend the title through the end of the year, retaining in a rematch with Del Rio on the November 28 Raw[163] and against both Del Rio and The Miz in a triple threat TLC match at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs.[164] On the December 26 Raw, CM Punk was defeated by Dolph Ziggler in a gauntlet match; as a result Ziggler became the number one contender to the WWE Championship. Had he been successful, Punk would have earned the right to face Laurinaitis in a match.[165] The following Raw, Punk was defeated by Ziggler via countout following interference from Laurinaitis; retaining the championship as a result.[166] Intermeddling from Laurinaitis caused Punk to lose to Ziggler throughout January[167][168] which ultimately led to Punk attacking Laurinaitis in retaliation.[168] At the Royal Rumble event, CM Punk successfully defended his title against Ziggler, despite Laurinaitis acting as the outside enforcer.[169]

CM Punk after retaining the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXVIII from Chris Jericho

On the January 30 Raw, Chris Jericho attacked Punk and Daniel Bryan during their Champion vs. Champion match, giving Bryan the win.[170] The following week, Jericho explained his actions by dismissing the WWE roster as imitations of himself and singling out Punk for claiming he was the best in the world, a moniker Jericho used the last time he was in WWE.[171][172] Their rivalry continued through Elimination Chamber where Punk retained the WWE Championship in the namesake structure; while four competitors were eliminated, Jericho was unable to continue the match after being kicked out of the chamber by Punk, causing temporary injury.[173] The following night on Raw, Jericho earned a match against Punk at WrestleMania XXVIII,[174] and in a bid to psychologically unsettle him, he revealed Punk's father was an alcoholic and alleged that his sister was a drug addict, asserting that Punk's straight edge philosophy was paranoia to avoid the same vices and vowing to make Punk turn to alcohol by winning the title from him.[175] John Laurinaitis added the stipulation that the WWE Championship could change hands via disqualification, which led to Jericho inciting Punk into using a weapon, but Punk resisted and retained the title.[176] On the April 2 and 9 episodes of Raw SuperShow, Punk retained the WWE Championship against Mark Henry after losing to him via count-out and disqualification. Following both matches, Jericho attacked Punk and doused him with alcohol.[177][178] On the April 16 Raw SuperShow, Punk pinned Henry in a no disqualification, no countout match to retain his title.[179] After repeated altercations, the feud between Jericho and Punk culminated in a Chicago Street Fight at Extreme Rules where Punk defeated Jericho to retain the WWE Championship.[180]

Punk began a rivalry with Daniel Bryan at the May event Over the Limit, retaining the title after reversing Bryan's submission hold the "Yes!" Lock into a pinning combination, however, replays showed Punk visibly tapping out moments after the finish of the match.[181] Shortly before Over the Limit, Bryan interfered in a non-title match between Punk and Kane to frame Punk for attacking Kane with a steel chair, beginning a three-way rivalry.[182][183][184][185] On the June 1 SmackDown, a WWE Championship match between Punk and Kane ended in a double disqualification after Bryan attacked both men.[186] Meanwhile, Bryan's jilted ex-girlfriend AJ turned her affections to both Punk and Kane.[187] This feud culminated in a triple threat match at No Way Out, where Punk managed to retain the title after AJ distracted Kane.[188] At Money in the Bank, Punk successfully defended the WWE Championship against Bryan in a No Disqualification match with AJ as special guest referee.[189]

On July 23 at Raw 1000, Punk defended his title against Money in the Bank winner John Cena and lost by disqualification after interference from Big Show.[190][191] When the night's special guest The Rock – who had interrupted Punk earlier to announce he would wrestle for the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble – intervened to save Cena from Big Show's assault, Punk attacked him, turning heel.[192] The following week, Punk justified his actions, claiming he was tired of people like Cena and Rock overshadowing him when the WWE Champion should be the focus of the company; Punk asserted himself further soon after by disrupting a number one contender's match between Cena and Big Show.[193][194] As a result, both men were entered into the title match against Punk at SummerSlam where he successfully retained the WWE Championship.[195] In the following weeks, Punk demanded respect from people like AJ Lee, Jerry Lawler and Bret Hart and eventually aligned with Paul Heyman in his feud with Cena.[196] At Night of Champions, Punk retained the WWE Championship after he fought Cena to a draw.[197] Punk continued to feud with Cena, despite the latter's arm injury,[198] rejecting the requests of Mick Foley and Jim Ross to pick him as his Hell in a Cell opponent and leading to a brawl with WWE chairman Vince McMahon.[199][200][201] Cena was eventually pulled from the title match at Hell in a Cell, and replaced by Ryback.[202] On October 28 at the pay-per-view, Punk, with help from referee Brad Maddox, defeated Ryback in a Hell in a Cell match to retain the WWE Championship.[203]

An injured Punk accompanied by Paul Heyman on Raw in December 2012

The next night on Raw, a furious Mick Foley confronted Punk for refusing to pick John Cena as his Hell in a Cell opponent. This led to the two agreeing to meet at Survivor Series in a traditional five-on-five elimination tag team match with Punk choosing Alberto Del Rio, Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow, and The Miz for his own team.[204] The next week, Punk was replaced as captain by Dolph Ziggler, and booked in a Triple Threat WWE Championship match against John Cena and Ryback instead by Mr. McMahon.[205] On November 18 at the pay-per-view, Punk won the match by pinning Cena, following interference from the debuting faction called The Shield, composed of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns, allowing him to retain the WWE Championship and hold the championship for a full year.[206] On December 4, Punk underwent surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus, removing him from his title match against Ryback at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs.[207] Despite his injury, Punk became the longest reigning WWE Champion in the past 25 years on December 5, when he hit 381 days, surpassing John Cena's 380-day reign. Punk returned to in-ring action on the January 7, 2013 Raw, retaining the WWE Championship against Ryback in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match, following interference from The Shield.[208]

On January 27 at the Royal Rumble, Punk defended the WWE Championship against The Rock in a match with the stipulation that if The Shield interfered, Punk would be stripped of the title. Punk originally pinned The Rock to retain after The Shield put Rock through a table while the arena lights were out. Vince McMahon began to announce that Punk would be stripped of the title, but he instead restarted the match at The Rock's request. Punk went on to lose the match, ending his record-setting reign at 434 days.[209] Punk received a title rematch with Rock on February 17 at the Elimination Chamber event, with the stipulation that the Rock would lose the WWE Championship if he was disqualified or counted out, but Rock pinned Punk to retain the title.[210] On the February 25 Raw, Punk faced Royal Rumble winner John Cena for his number one contendership to the WWE Championship, but was defeated.[211]

Various feuds (2013–2014)

Punk set his sights on ending The Undertaker's WrestleMania streak on the March 4 Raw, in an effort to take something away from the fans, as they had taken the WWE title away from him. Punk subsequently defeated Big Show, Randy Orton, and Sheamus in a four-way match to earn the right to face Undertaker.[212] After the real-life death of Paul Bearer the following day, a storyline involving Punk regularly spiting The Undertaker through displays of flippancy and disrespect towards Bearer's death began.[213] Punk interrupted The Undertaker's ceremony to honor Bearer on Raw, stealing his trademark urn and later using it to attack Kane, humiliate the Brothers of Destruction, and mock Bearer.[214][215] On April 7 at WrestleMania 29, Punk was defeated by The Undertaker who, in the process, extended his streak to 21–0 and took back the urn.[216] On the April 15 Raw, Punk addressed the crowd and after briefly recalling his historic championship reign, walked out of the arena.[217]

Punk returned at Payback on June 16, defeating Chris Jericho.[218] The next night on Raw, Punk told Heyman to stay away from him during his matches. Later in the night, after Punk's win over World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio, Brock Lesnar returned and executed an F-5 on Punk.[219] The next week on Raw, Heyman promised Punk that he did not send Lesnar to attack him, and that he still considered Punk his best friend, and claimed that any problem Punk and Lesnar had with each other was between them. Following that, Punk defeated Darren Young; when Young and his tag team partner Titus O'Neil began attacking him, Heyman summoned his other client, the WWE Intercontinental Champion, Curtis Axel to help Punk fight them off, much to Punk's dismay.[220] On the July 1 Raw, Punk claimed that he trusted Heyman but did not trust Axel.[221] On July 14 at Money in the Bank, Punk competed in the WWE Championship Money in the Bank ladder match, but Heyman turned on him by hitting him with a ladder, costing him the match that was ultimately won by Randy Orton this incident cemented his Face turn.[222] The following night on Raw, Punk called out Heyman, who claimed that, without him, Punk was no longer the "Best in the World". He revealed that he did not believe that Punk could beat Lesnar, who then came out and hit the F-5 on Punk onto the announce table.[223] The following week on Raw, Punk challenged Lesnar to a match at SummerSlam, which Heyman accepted on Lesnar's behalf.[224] On the August 5 Raw, Punk wrestled Axel to a no-contest, after Heyman attacked him. Lesnar then came out and brawled with Punk, eventually getting the upper hand.[225] Punk got revenge the next week by attacking Lesnar with a camera and a steel chair, after Heyman tried to change the scheduled match between Punk and himself to a handicap match involving Lesnar. He then delivered a Go To Sleep to Axel, who had interfered while Punk was chasing Heyman.[226] Six days later, at SummerSlam, Punk lost to Lesnar in a No Disqualification match, after interference by Heyman.[227]

Punk (left) allied himself with Daniel Bryan heading into Survivor Series

On the next Raw, Punk had the chance to again become a "Paul Heyman guy", but declined by attacking Axel. The next week, Punk defeated Axel before being assaulted by him and Heyman. Punk was then scheduled to face Axel and Heyman in a handicap elimination match at Night of Champions, later adding a No Disqualification to the stipulation. During the match, Punk tapped Axel out, leaving only Heyman left to deal with, but in the process of attacking Heyman, Ryback attacked Punk and placed Heyman on top of Punk for the pin. At Battleground, Punk defeated Ryback after executing a low blow, while the referee was distracted by Heyman attempting to interfere in the match. On the October 14 episode of Raw, Punk defeated Axel in a Beat the Clock challenge match to determine the stipulation for his rematch with Ryback at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. He announced that his match would a be two-on-one handicap match in the Hell in a Cell, in which he would face Paul Heyman and Ryback.[228] On October 27, at Hell in a Cell, Punk defeated Ryback and Paul Heyman. Punk faced Ryback again in a Street Fight match the following night on Raw, defeating Ryback by submission, thus ending their feud.

Punk then moved on to feud with the Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan), forming an alliance with former rival Daniel Bryan. At Survivor Series, Punk and Bryan defeated Harper and Rowan in a tag team match. After Bryan was "abducted" by the Wyatt Family the following night on Raw, Punk was attacked by former allies The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns). The following week on Raw, Kane announced that Punk would face The Shield in a 3-on-1 handicap match at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs, which Punk won after Reigns accidentally speared Ambrose.

On January 26, 2014, Punk was the first entrant in the annual Royal Rumble match. After having lasted until the final four, Kane, who was already eliminated earlier in the match by Punk, eliminated Punk from the outside and proceeded to chokeslam him through the announcer's table.[229]

Departure and retirement (2014)

"I was sick and hurt, and sick and tired, and burnt out, and I walked. And, I can do that because I'm an independent contractor".

In a December 2014 interview, Punk explains why he left WWE in January 2014.[230]

Punk did not appear the following night on Raw, nor did he appear at the SmackDown taping on Tuesday despite being advertised for the event. By Wednesday, stopped advertising Punk for future events. The Wrestling Observer reported that, on Monday and prior to Raw, Punk had legitimately walked out after telling Vince McMahon and Triple H that he was "going home".[231][232] On February 20, during a conference call to investors, McMahon said Punk was "taking a sabbatical".[233][234] On the March 3 episode of Raw, WWE acknowledged Punk's absence on television when the show started with Punk's entrance music playing, only for former manager Paul Heyman to walk out.[235] WWE proceeded to remove Punk from footage of their promotional videos;[236] this lasted until the first half of July, where WWE used footage of Punk to promote the WWE Network.[237][238] In an interview published in late May, Punk was asked how it felt "to be retired at 35" and replied that "it feels good".[239] On July 15, moved Punk from the active roster to the alumni page without releasing a statement. On the same day, Punk thanked his fans without mentioning WWE.[240] In late July, Punk claimed that he was "never ever" going to return to wrestling.[241][242]

When Punk told the doctor that he wrestled with the [staph infection] mass on his back for three months, Punk said the doctor told him: "You should be dead. You could have died".

The Professional Wrestling Torch documents the Punk interview released in November 2014.[243]

On an episode of Colt Cabana's Art of Wrestling podcast released in November 2014, Punk broke his silence regarding his exit from WWE.[244] In a detailed interview, Punk said that he was suspended for two months after walking out on the company in January. After the suspension ended, nobody from WWE contacted him according to him. He told that when finally reached out to them for unpaid royalties, he was given a run-around by the company executives until he was handed his termination paper and was fired by WWE on his wedding day in June 2014.[16] The manner of firing was the last straw for Punk, stating that he would never return to WWE and that following a legal settlement with WWE, there would be no further working relationship between them. The settlement included Punk giving WWE permission to sell his remaining merchandise.[243]

Punk cited his health as the main reason he left WWE, describing that in his final months in the company, he had been working through an untreated and potentially fatal MRSA infection (allegedly diagnosed by a "Dr. Bateman"[245]), broken ribs, injured knees, and multiple concussions including one at the Royal Rumble, as well as having lost his appetite and ability to sleep well. Punk felt that WWE was pressuring and rushing him to wrestle before he had fully recovered. According to him, he found a lump on his back in November 2013 and it was diagnosed as a fatty deposit by Dr. Chris Amann who refused to remove it out despite Punk's requests. Several weeks after Punk left WWE, AJ Lee convinced him to get the infection checked by her doctor who diagnosed it as an MRSA infection and told Punk could have died due to ignoring it for such a long time. According to Punk, getting it cleaned out was "the worst pain in his life".[16] Other sources of unhappiness Punk had with WWE were his failure to main-event a WrestleMania (deeming his entire career to be a failure as a result[16]), being paid less than other top wrestlers for WrestleMania 29, being "creatively stifled" and feeling that there were no long-term plans for wrestlers other than John Cena, as well as receiving smaller paychecks and not getting answers as to how the WWE Network would affect wrestlers' salaries.[16] Lastly, Punk described having left with "zero passion" for wrestling,[243] but described himself at the time of the interview to be the happiest in many years.[16]

Less than a week later, when Vince McMahon was interviewed on The Steve Austin Show via the WWE Network, he apologized to Punk for the manner of his termination, which he termed a "coincidence" while blaming a lack of communication within the organization. McMahon said that he was open to working with Punk again.[246] In a second Art of Wrestling podcast, Punk rejected McMahon's apology as insincere and a "publicity stunt" as McMahon did not contact him directly to apologize and could have apologized earlier.[230]

Wrestling character

A key part of Punk's gimmick emerges in the form of iconoclasm which can be shown in his disinclination to conform and penchant for challenging popular and accepted beliefs, traditions, and customs. A prime example, Punk has adopted his real-life following of the straight edge movement as a major attribute of his professional wrestling character. The character utilizes different elements of Punk's personality and beliefs of the straight edge movement dependent on his antagonist/protagonist alignment. While portraying a crowd favorite, Punk's character tends to be that of Punk's normal personality,[5] largely indifferent to others who drink alcohol, smoke tobacco, partake in recreational drug use or have promiscuous sexual behavior, but emphasizing the social discipline involved with personally abstaining from these behaviors. During his WWE career, Punk also incorporated a belligerently anti-establishment and anti-corporate attitude into his persona.[247] Conversely, his villainous personality tends to be that of one who is hardline or militant straight edge, exemplifying the elitist attitudes and superiority complexes—defined by Punk's common mantra during villainous-themed promos that, because he is straight edge, he is "better than you".[5] Punk performs the straight edge symbol of crossing his arms in an X formation while having the letter X written on the back of his hands, usually drawn on his wrist tape.

Originally, the initials CM in his ring name represented the phrase "Chick Magnet", the name of the tag team he was in as a backyard wrestler.[5][18][19] Punk, however, later changed CM into a pseudo-acronym, declaring that it has no meaning,[6] though when asked since he has taken to making up meanings that fit the initials, going so far as to make up long stories to explain the origins that do not match the actual origin story at all.[6] Since beginning this practice, Punk has stated CM stands for "Cookie Monster",[248] "Cookie Master",[249] "Crooked Moonsault",[250] "Chuck Mosley",[250] "Charles Montgomery",[19] "Charles Manson",[19] "Chicago Made",[251] among others.

CM Punk in 2008 at a Raw taping. Prominently visible are the Pepsi Globe tattoo on his left shoulder, the "luck is for losers" sleeve tattoo on his left arm, and the "straight edge" tattoo across his stomach.

During his entrance, Punk yells "It's clobberin' time!" The phrase is a reference to New York hardcore punk band Sick of It All, who wrote a song with the same name, and Marvel's fictional character The Thing.[252]

An integral part of Punk are the numerous tattoos that adorn his body, some of which have come to become symbols associated with Punk, as well as mantras and declarations that have been integrated into his gimmick. The tattoos as a whole, due to their large quantity and variety, have also become an attribute identifiable to Punk.[253] The most important of the individual tattoos in Punk's character, whether through association, symbol, or mantra, are:

  • A Pepsi Globe logo on his left shoulder that inspired the names of two of his signature moves. It also became a symbol of Punk himself, who wore the logo on his ring gear in the independent circuit, as well as a slightly modified Pepsi logo being used as part of his TitanTron entrance video.[254] Punk, a keen Pepsi drinker, chose to receive a Pepsi tattoo to emphasize his straight edge beliefs.[6] The tattoo is also a reference to former Minor Threat guitarist Brian Baker, who had a Coca-Cola tattoo and explained this by saying "I like Coca-Cola". When people inquire about Punk's Pepsi tattoo, he often replies "I like Pepsi" in a similar fashion.[5]
  • The words "Straight Edge" are spelled out on Punk's stomach. This is one of his oldest tattoos;[253] he has referred to it as his identity.[255]
  • A sleeve tattoo on his left arm that reads "luck is for losers" and features numerous good luck symbols, including a rabbit's foot, four-leaf clover and a horseshoe.[256] The tattoo also features four ace playing cards as a tribute to trainer Ace Steel.[256]
  • A tattoo on the back of his left hand reading "No gimmicks needed", a tribute to deceased wrestler Chris Candido.[257]
  • A tattoo across his knuckles with the words "DRUG FREE" ("DRUG" on his right knuckles and "FREE" on his left).[258][259]
  • A tattoo of his little sister's jersey number (31) behind his left ear surrounded by stars, each of which also representing his siblings as a way to bond away from home.[260][261]
  • A tattoo on his right shoulder of the Cobra Command logo, G.I. Joe's enemy. Punk is well known for his love of comic books, considering them along with jazz and professional wrestling as three of the original arts that America has given to the world.[260]
  • A tattoo of a rose on his left wrist.[262]
  • A tattoo on his knuckles, below the drug-free tattoo, that reads "romance" when his fingers are intertwined with an arrowed heart on his left pinkie at the end.[263]

Punk's character has been parodied by the wrestling federation Chikara who used a mascot character CP Munk, the straight edge chipmunk. The character includes references to Punk, such as X-marked wrist tape, a Pepsi logo on the costume's left shoulder, and a high-pitch version of Punk's best-known independent circuit theme song "Miseria Cantare – The Beginning", by the band AFI.[264] On his website, Punk has said about the character CP Munk, and the people behind it:

Mixed martial arts career

CM Punk
Born Phillip Jack Brooks
(1978-10-26) October 26, 1978 (age 36)
Chicago, Illinois
Nationality American
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight 170 lb (77 kg; 12 st 2 lb)
Division Welterweight
Style Brazilian jiu-jitsu
Stance Orthodox
Fighting out of Chicago, Illinois
Team Roufusport
Trainer Head trainer: Duke Roufus
MMA coach: Duke Roufus
MMA coach: Daniel Wanderley
Jiu-jitsu: Rener Gracie
Rank Brazilian jiu-jitsu: White Belt
Years active 2015–present (MMA)
Other information
Spouse AJ Lee (m. 2014)
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog
Official UFC fighter profile
last updated on: February 15, 2015 (2015-02-15)

Ultimate Fighting Championship (2015)

At UFC 181 on December 6, 2014, Punk announced that he had signed a multi-fight contract with Ultimate Fighting Championship and will fight as a professional mixed martial artist in the middleweight or welterweight division in 2015.[266][267] Punk, 36 at the time of signing, has no amateur wrestling background,[268][269] but has a self-proclaimed background in kempo and also trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu[270] most notably under master Rener Gracie.[271] Regarding Punk's signing, UFC President Dana White mentioned that while he "can definitely sell some pay-per-views", that was not the sole motivation for it.[268] On his longevity in UFC, White said: "He could be one and done, or he could have a career here. I don't know. We'll see."[268]

White did not confirm a date for Punk's UFC debut, but predicted it to be around six or seven months later.[266][268] Punk will likely debut against someone who, like himself, has completed very few fights.[266] Jason David Frank, best known as Tommy Oliver, the Green Ranger from Power Rangers, but also a 41-year-old mixed martial artist with a 1–0 record, offered to fill that role. According to Frank's manager, he has been considering fighting Punk for over a year, stemming from fan interest for the idea while the two toured Wizard World conventions together.[272] When asked during a pre-UFC 182 fan Q&A session what he thought of the challenge, Punk said he had been challenged by a lot of fighters, and would need a long career to fight them all.[273]

Regarding his ring name, he expected ring announcer Bruce Buffer will call him Phil "CM Punk" Brooks. He told the Las Vegas Sun, "I've come this far with CM Punk. That's what people know. I'm trying to stick with that. I'm not shying away from it. I'm not ashamed of it."[274] His later UFC profile listed him as simply CM Punk.[275]

Punk will train for his debut match under Duke Roufus at Roufusport MMA Academy, alongside UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis and ONE FC Welterweight Champion Ben Askren. The gym is based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, relatively close to his home in Chicago.[276]

Recent team member, UFC maincarder and former amateur wrestler Tyron Woodley told Ariel Helwani, when asked of Punk's preparation, that he "had a new level of respect" for his work ethic. Punk trains three times a day, with twelve private sessions a week, always shows up an hour early and puts in "ridiculous" solo cardio training between sparrings. Woodley says Punk sure "isn't ready to beat Anderson Silva", but is doing all the things a person trying to "make up the gap" in experience can do.[277] Ben Askren, who referred to Punk as a "fake wrestler" and his UFC signing an "amateur move" when it was announced, has since said he was "just talking shit on Twitter", and that Punk has been "outstanding in the gym".[278]

Other media

Punk at an autograph signing in Madrid in 2009

Punk made an appearance on the February 16, 2004 episode of Monster Garage, "Box Truck Wrestling Car", performing a short match with Samoa Joe.[279] On October 31, 2006, Punk joined The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) to shoot the Sci Fi Channel special Ghost Hunters Live, which was a six-hour show broadcast live Halloween night from the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. Initially skeptical about what he might find, Punk claimed to have heard children giggling and footsteps when there were not any children booked into the hotel.[280]

In 2008, Punk appeared as the Sports Grand Marshal of the nationally-televised McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade in downtown Chicago.[281][282] He reprised this role in 2012.[283]

Punk made his video game debut in WWE SmackDown vs Raw 2008,[284] and has also been a playable character in WWE SmackDown vs Raw 2009,[285] WWE SmackDown vs Raw 2010,[286] WWE All Stars,[287] WWE SmackDown vs Raw 2011,[288] WWE '12,[289] WWE '13 (for which he was on the cover),[290] WWE 2K14,[291] and WWE 2K15. There were legal discussions between Punk and WWE over Punk's appearance in WWE 2K15.[292] Despite this, he is still in the video game, with his feud with John Cena being one of the two highlighted rivalries in the "2K Showcase" mode.

On July 15, 2011, Punk threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Wrigley Field before a Chicago Cubs game.[293] On May 8, 2012, Punk returned to Wrigley Field to throw out the first pitch before the Cubs vs. Braves game.[294] He also threw the first pitch at the New York Mets vs. Miami Marlins game on April 5, 2013 at Citi Field.[295]

Punk appeared at the 2011 San Diego Comic Con[148][149] and at the 2012 Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con where he hosted a Q&A session.[296] He also appeared at the 2014 Wizard World Portland Comic Con on January 24, 2014 where he once again hosted a Q&A session.[297]

Punk has made appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live![298] and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon[299] and has reported the weather on Fox News 59.[300]

On February 13, 2012, Punk appeared alongside his friend and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach Rener Gracie for an edition of Gracie Breakdown, a YouTube series that explains mixed martial arts matches and specifically the BJJ techniques used in them. In the episode, he helped explain the techniques used in the UFC 4 match between Royce Gracie and Dan Severn.[301] Punk had mentioned holding a white belt in BJJ during a 26 January 2012 interview with Ariel Helwani.[302]

Punk featured in the WWE Studios project Les reines du ring (English: Queens of the Ring), with fellow wrestlers Eve Torres and The Miz.[303]

Punk wrote the introduction for the hardcover edition of Marvel Comics' 2012 crossover event Avengers vs. X-Men.[304][305] He was interviewed for Marvel's official website,, and, when Punk was asked what it was like to write the introduction, he said:

In 2013, Punk wrote a foreword for his friend and ex-girlfriend Natalie Slater's cookbook Bake and Destroy: Good Foods for Bad Vegans.[307]

As part of YouTube Comedy Week 2013, Punk starred in a YouTube series, CM Punk's Grammar Slam, on Nerdist Industries' YouTube channel, explaining grammatical mistakes in messages from wrestling fans and berating them.[308] He has also appeared on The Nerdist Podcast.[309] On November 21, 2012, Punk joined Nerdist's Chris Hardwick on Talking Dead, which recapped the episode of The Walking Dead that aired earlier on in the evening.[310] On March 16, 2014, Punk once again appeared on Talking Dead, his first media appearance since leaving WWE in January 2014.[311] He appeared for a third time on November 16, 2014.

In November 2013, Punk was the headlining performer on the I Shit You Not comedy show at Lincoln Lodge in his hometown of Chicago.[312]

In a December 2014 Off the Record interview, host Michael Landsberg spent much of the segment mocking Punk, who retorted by stating that Landsberg takes on an entirely different persona when he is on-camera and likened his behavior to "trying to be the cool kid in school".[313]

In early 2015, Punk voiced CM Punkrock, an animated version of himself, in the Warner Bros. and WWE Studios direct-to-video film The Flintstones & WWE: Stone Age SmackDown!, alongside WWE CEO Vince McMahon and John Cena.[314][315][316] It was rumored that Punk was to be replaced by Rey Mysterio in the movie due to Punk leaving WWE.

In February 2015, Marvel Comics' Thor Annual #1, partly written by Punk, was released.[317] Punk will also be writing for other Marvel books in 2015.

Personal life

Brooks is an atheist[318][319] and a pescetarian.[320] He is an avid fan of the Chicago Blackhawks[321] and Chicago Cubs.[322] In his spare time, he reads and collects comics.[304][305][306] He once worked for a shop named All American Comics,[252] and cites Preacher as his favorite comic.[323] He is close friends with professional wrestlers Colt Cabana (whom he met when he trained at Steel Domain Wrestling)[21] and Cliff Compton,[324] as well as Rancid vocalist Lars Frederiksen (who was interviewed by WWE for their documentary CM Punk: Best in the World).[325]

While working for Ring of Honor, Brooks was romantically linked to professional wrestlers Shannon Spruill[326] and Tracy Brookshaw.[22] After joining Ohio Valley Wrestling he began dating Maria Kanellis, who was an interviewer there.[327][328] They broke up sometime after Punk moved to World Wrestling Entertainment's ECW brand.[329] Brooks dated Amy Dumas for over a year around 2009.[330] In March 2010, Matt Hardy said the two were no longer dating.[331] An interview in the November 2011 issue of Maxim said Brooks was in a relationship with fellow WWE wrestler Beth "Phoenix" Carolan.[332] In April 2013, it was reported that he and Dumas were back together; however, they ceased dating later in 2013.[333] Brooks married April Mendez, better known as AJ Lee, on June 13, 2014.[334][335]

On February 19, 2015, Christopher M. Amann, the WWE doctor who Brooks claimed misdiagnosed his staph infection and mistreated his concussion, filed a lawsuit against Brooks and Scott Colton (Colt Cabana) for defamation and invasion of privacy.[336] He is seeking $1 million in compensation from each defendant and an undisclosed amount in punitive damages.[337] WWE issued a statement and video in support of Amann, claiming that Brooks had never informed anyone at WWE of his staph infection.[338][339]

In wrestling

Punk about to perform the Go to Sleep on Kane.
Punk applying the Anaconda Vise on Mike Knox.
Punk bulldogs Alberto Del Rio through a table.
Punk pays homage to Randy Savage before a diving elbow drop on Alberto Del Rio.
Punk performing Super frankesteiner on Daniel Bryan.
Punk springboarding off the ropes to clothesline Kane.
Punk applying a hammerlock on John Cena.
Punk punching The Rock in the face.
Punk's signature taunt of putting his opponent to sleep.

Championships and accomplishments

Punk is a two-time WWE Champion....
... a three-time World Heavyweight Champion...
... and a former World Tag Team Champion.
  • International Wrestling Cartel
    • IWC World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[370]
  • Mid-American Wrestling
    • MAW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[371]
  • St. Paul Championship Wrestling
    • SPCW Northern States Light Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[250]
    • SDW Northern States Television Championship (2 times)[250]

Luchas de Apuestas record

Wager Winner Loser Location Date Notes
Hair Rey Mysterio CM Punk Detroit, Michigan May 23, 2010 Straight Edge Society pledge vs. Hair match at Over the Limit.[397]

Notes and references

  1. ^ Punk held the title concurrently with Rey Mysterio and John Cena during his first reign. After defeating Cena, Punk became undisputed champion, but was not recognized by WWE as having won the title a second time.[11]
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