Paul Heyman was a guest on the SI Podcast earlier this week and spoke candidly about his friend CM Punk (Phil Brooks). Topics covered were Punk’s upcoming UFC debut, a possible WWE return, and how he sees comparisons between Punk and Vince McMahon. Fox Sports has a recap here, below are the highlights of the interview.
Heyman was asked that as improbable as it seems, could an MMA novice like Punk make the jump to a sport where he has no experience and still be successful.
“He’s a really driven individual and he’s uncompromising, so he’s uncompromising in his own beliefs and he’s uncompromising in his own values and he’s uncompromising in pursuing his own desires. I’ve said this before, it gets quoted back to me all the time, experience is the greatest inhibitor of creativity that you’ll ever meet in your life.”
“It is also the greatest inhibitor of pursuing one’s dreams. Because you learn in terms of creativity of what not to do, but in terms of pursuing your dreams you learn all the reasons why something will fail. If you show me someone who’s afraid of failure, I’ll show you someone who is not a groundbreaking, innovative, pioneer of a certain industry. How many different ways could you have explained to Bill Gates why not to go in the direction he went in his life? They just released a movie on Steve Jobs. This guy broke every rule in the book, every convention and he was unrestrained in his pursuit of what everyone thought was crazy. Same with Vincent Kennedy McMahon. He broke every rule and could be given every reason not to do the things that he did.”
Paul then talks about Punk pushing to succeed when the odds are stacked against him.
“Phil Brooks is not in his mid-thirties, he’s cruising rapidly into his late-thirties. He doesn’t have a documentable athletic background. Do I know that he has been in the gym with the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners in the world for several years? Sure I do, but he’s never been in a competition. I don’t know of any sports he played in high school. He went straight from high school into the wrestling world so there’s no college background there. Brock Lesnar was an NCAA Division I champion, who was a champion in junior college, he was a bad ass wrestling in high school and he was wrestling since he was five years old. He was a competitive athlete so that’s a different jump to make.”
“Phillip Brooks does not have that background. It makes it all the more improbable, which is exactly why he’s so driven to do it. Because he looks in the mirror and he sees not only a rebel and an uncompromising spokesman for the beliefs that are near and dear to him, but he sees someone that will defy conventional wisdom and pull off miracles if that’s what it takes because he has one shot in life and he wants to do something quite special with it.”
The interview is wrapped up with the question all wrestling fans have asked for months, could Punk be heading back to the WWE?
“As of right now, ain’t no way he’s ever going back. I don’t know if I can make that same statement in the future. I know his mindset is there’s absolutely no way. As for his mindset where he is in his journey, I think every moment he takes a breath is one moment closer to his debut. I think the only thing that he sees in his mind right now, 24/7 he is envisioning the moment they lock that Octagon and the referee says ‘fight’.”
Ski’s Take – I admit it right from the get go, I am a huge Punk fan. I have been for over 10 years when I saw him wrestle Samoa Joe in a mega event in Coventry, England. Followed his career ever since, so I know a fair bit about the guy. Everything Paul Heyman has said I totally and 100% agree with. Punk looks at obstacles in his career and life as stepping stones, and all power to the man for a philosophy like that.
I would also like to point out that I’m not one of those fans that blindly stands up for everything Punk has said and done. I’m a rational fan so to speak. Things like the way he left the WWE, a lot of the things that he spoke about in the infamous Colt Cabana podcast, and his sometimes blase attitude to his fans, they didn’t sit that well with me.
With all that said, I just can’t see him ever back in a wrestling ring, let alone a WWE ring. He has lost his passion for the sport (yeah I said it, it’s not a dirty word), his desire to be the best of the best in the world of wrestling. His situation is totally different to when Warrior left, or when Bret Hart left. Yes, they bashed the company when they left but did they get personal like Punk did? The things he said about HHH and Stephanie in particular can never be taken back. The power of social media will make sure that his words will resonate for a long long time. And if HHH does assume power at WWE like many have speculated, then those same personal cutting remarks will bite Punk on the ass if he ever did want to go back.
If Punk does become a huge success in UFC, then this will be a moot point. But if he isn’t, if he takes his ball and goes home again, what will happen to CM Punk and his legacy?