CM Punk has been the industry buzz as of late with his attitude era shoot style promos surrounding his WWE contract status and eminent departure. Without question, it’s some of the best TV pro wrestling has produced in nearly 10 years. I’ve been just as fixed on his every word as every diehard wrestling fan, every dirt sheet writer and cyber journalist, and every worker in the locker room. I’m completely engaged in the angle, looking forward to where it goes from here and curious to know who will be the next star to get the opportunity to step up their game with an open mic. But I’m not going to waste time analyzing the angle and fantasy booking. I want to focus on somethng else – how much of a REAL douchebag CM Punk is. I have a REAL story to tell.
I understand that his character is supposed to generate heat. I understand that CM Punk has the natural ability to be one of the top heels in the business because of his in-ring abilities and his vervbal skills on the mic. I understand that he has a strong fanbase following that dates back to the heydays of Ring of Honor where he was pretty much branded as the “King of The Indies”. Believe me, I get it.
But I’m not talking about CM Punk. I’m talking about Phil Brooks – the person. And trust me when I say, this guy is a fucking douchebag!
I had the privelege of working with CM Punk several years ago, just before he signed with the WWE. I use the word “privelege” rather than the word “pleasure” because working with Punk was anything but a pleasure.
While I was the booker for NWA Cyberspace, we decided that we’d like to start drawing the smart marks to our shows and figured the best way to do it was to feature some of the talents who were highly regarded by the internet fans. At the time, CM Punk was the hottest name on the market. I’m pretty sure he had been romantically linked to TNA Knockout Traci Brooks (or at least was tapping that ass), and she recommended that we bring him in for a couple of shows. I thought it was a good idea, but my biggest concern was that there were already rumors that he was heading to the WWE, therefore I couldn’t come up with any long term plans. So I wrote him into a storyline that would run three shows.
Over the phone, CM Punk was great. He spoke in a lowkey voice and seemed very humble for the opportunity. My first impression was that this guy was a real professional and it was only a matter of time that such integrity would be noticed by the WWE. Now that I look back at it – perhaps I was too quick to judge his character based on a 10 minute phone call. But I had seen the videos of his matches, I had heard all the hype from the fans, and I had shared a mutually respectful phone conversation. What reason did I have to think anything negative?
So the plan was to have CM Punk team up with Julio Dinero. They had a short history teaming with each other in TNA, and I thought it would blend well with what was going on with our product. Having Punk involved in a tag team match made more sense than booking him in short term high profile matches. There was no sense in trying to build around him if he wasn’t going to be around that long. But to compensate for not being booked in a top spot, I set it up where Punk and Dinero would be challenging for the tag team titles and made sure that I positioned that match as the main event for the night.
Not only was I the booker for NWA Cyberspace, but I pretty much did everything else and would be running around like a chicken without a head on the day of the shows. I could literally count on one hand the number of people I could depend on to help me out.
So on the day of this show, with less than 20 minutes before bell time and while I’m proving to everyone that I am the world champion of multi-tasking, I realize that I have yet to see CM Punk. I start to wonder if he’s going to no-show. Check the cell phone – no calls, no messages. Ask anyone if they’ve seen Punk come in – nothing. I start to wonder if my main event is in jeapordy and if I have to rebook it at the last minute. Then I started to wonder how and and at what point do I break the news to the crowd waiting to see their hero. It’s cusotmary to make the no-show announcements before the first match, but I didn’t think Punk would stand me up because he has a reputation to uphold. Maybe I should wait till after the show starts? Maybe he’s just stuck in traffic? Maybe he…wait a minute, who the fuck is that in MY locker room?
I’m very protective of my product. There were instances where rival promoters would go backstage while the show was on and solicit bookings from my talent. My shows are not a place for another promoters negotiations. My shows are MY shows, and my workers need to be focused on my shows not a future booking for someone else. I also had fans trying to sneak backstage for free autographs and photos rather than waiting for a paying opportunity at the gimmick tables. Business is business, and in business you protect your investments and profits. I’d also have a number of wrestler entourages and unpaid guests roaming around the locker room. My locker room is my office and if you’re getting paid to work for me, then your family and friends shouldn’t be in my locker room interfering with the work that needs to be done. So again, who the fuck is this stranger secluded in a corner in my locker room?
The stranger is sitting alone in a chair, away from the rest of the locker room. He’s wearing a black hooded sweater with the hood covering his entire head and face like he was a sith lord from Star Wars. His Ipod is blasting some shitty metal music to the devices maximum volume. I tap him on the shoulder and he slowly turns his head and raises his chin to peer under the hood rather than taking it off.
“Yeah, what’s up?”
“I’m Derek, the booker…”
“I’ve been looking for you everwhere. Wasn’t sure if you were making it or not.”
“Can you lower the Ipod for a few minutes so we can formally introduce each other and discuss your match?”
“Yeah, yeah…I’m tagging with Julio, right?”
“Yeah – it’s a main event tag team title match against our champions. You guys are going over on a DQ but it sets up your next two appearences.”
“Ok. I’ve tagged with Julio before, so we know our stuff.”
“I appreciate that, but you need to know my stuff in order to tell the story.”
“Exactly. You want me to come back once you’ve settled into your gear and warm up so we can talk?”
“No. I’m good”
So that was our “formal” introduction. Considering that I had expected more from his character, I was pretty disappointed with our brief meeting. For a guy who was WWE bound and who is regarded as a professional, his locker room etiquite BLOWS! Anyone who has privilage to the locker room knows that the code is to go around and shake everyones hand while introducing yourself. Aside from that, we’ve never worked together before. Punk doesn’t know me from a hole in the wall. Wouldn’t it make sense to seek out the promoter/booker and introduce yourself properly, get a better understanding of your assignment and know who to go to to get paid at the end of the night? Apparently, Punk doesn’t think that way.
Needless to say, I had more on my plate than I could handle that night and couldn’t be bothered to babysit Punk. If he’s as good as they say and he thinks he is, he’ll figure it out.So I go about my business in running the show.
During the middle of the event, we were scheduled to film some backstage promos and vingettes that would help explain Punk’s short term storyline with the company. While going over the script and explaining the concept, Punk interrupts with the comment, “Jesus, you ‘d think you were working for Vince in this place!”
Now let’s get something straight – I’m not in this business because I some mark promoter who gets starry-eyed around wrestling celebritites. I’m a passionate filmmaker, director and storyteller who’s used pro wrestling as a medium to entertain people for nearly 20 years. I’m not a money mark promoter who pays the boys to hang around them or who organizes a half ass show so that the boys can get a public work out and “get their shit in” during their match. My product is strategically planned from a creative and business standpoint – much like Vince Mcmahon and the WWE. Now while I may not be making the billions of dollars that Vince is and while my product may not be as successful as the WWE, I’ve worked very hard to maintain a respectable locker room, working environment and product for the fans. Can someone please point out where I’m at fault? You would think that for someone who was about to sign with the WWE, he’d have more apprecation for a small indy company who wants to provide its workers with an environment where that can exercise their professional disciplines. Yeah, I may not be Vince, but it doesn’t mean I can’t run a tight ship that prepares the workers for the day they’re called up to the big show.
With that said, Punk was than less enthused about doing the vignettes and they were ultimately scrapped because of his lack of effort. I understand that Punk didn’t have a history invested in my company and didn’t plan on sticking around long enough to build one – but what makes my company and paying gig any different from the others? Punks lack of effort and interest disrespects me, my judgement, my company, my locker room, my workers, my product and my fans. But it only lends credibility to those who have claimed that Punk thinks he’s bigger and more imprtant than the business.
I was already furious and trying to figure out what more I could do with this dickhead. I dreaded the thought of having to deal witht his for two more shows. I racked my brain trying to figure out what I could do to make this work for the product and for the fans. Maybe there was something I could do that could change Punk’s tune and earn his respect (I can’t believe I just said that because normally I could give two shits and a cup of warm piss what anyone thinks – but I knew that my fans loved CM Punk and I wanted to give them what they wanted).
As the main event started, I was still consumed by other duties in the locker room. The plan was for Punk and Dinero to win the match via disqualification, but the champions would retain the titles. When Punk hit the ring, the fans went nuts. They were glued tohis every move and the chants got louder and louder. That’s when it hit me!If the fans were that crazy about CM Punk, how would they react if he actually won the title? Perhaps Punk would take more interest in the company and pride himself with his efforts if he was represented as a champion. So during the middle of the match, I made my way down to the ringside area. “Sure Thing” John Shane was the manager of The Solution, our tag team and defending champions. He saw me come out of the locker room and immediately made eye contact with me. I motioned to him to somehow meet me on the arena floor during the match without the video cameras noticing.
The fight spilled outside the ring and into the crowd. John Shane was able to shimmy his way to my direction as he followed the action. I quickly whispered, “Let them go over for the titles. You’ll get it back in two months”. Shane nodded and understood where I was going with this. He knew that the roof would blow off the place if CM Punk and Julio Dinero won the tag team titles to end the show, thus sending the fans home happy and helping push ticket sales for his upcoming title defenses.
Shane managed to relay the message to the boys, and just as planned, the crowd erupted when the final bell sounded with Punk and Dinero holding up the tag team titles.
I figured I’d be able to have a better conversation with Punk after the show, especially now that he was one of my representing champions. I start to look for Punk in the locker room, but instead find Julio Dinero wearing both belts. I asked him where Punk was and he told me that he had left the building already. He had collected his money from someone else and took off.
In my locker room, the norm would be to go to thank the former champions, thank the booker, collect your pay and take a couple of promo shots with the titles so that I could design a better poster for the next event. I got none of the above.
A few hours later, I get a call from Punk:
“Hey, sorry I had to get out of there so soon. My ride was in a rush to get out of there and hit the road. I had a lot of fun tonight. Give me a call when you know the next date”.
I was pissed and disappointed, but in the back of my head, I knew the fans were happy. That was all I had to go with in building to the next show….until, two weeks before that next show when I got this call from Punk:
“Hey, I screwed up my schedule and double booked myself. I’m not going to be able to make that next date.”
“But you agreed to three dates and you’re defending the tag titles…”
“Yeah, I’m sorry about that. I had this date booked for a long time. It’s a huge show in Florida for Ring of Honor.”
“My show may not be as huge, but it’s huge to the fans who are expecting to see you”.
“Sorry about that. Let’s set something up again down the road.”
“What about the titles? How am I supposed to explain that?”
“Just strip me or something like that and we’ll work it in when I come back”
As you’d expect it, Punk never came back. But luckily for me, I was able to write a great story that picked up the shattered pieces left by Punk. I don’t know what the CM stands for, but it sure as hell doesn’t stand for “Championship Material”.Needless to say, I found it ironic how CM Punk cut his promo talking about how the WWE didn’t push him as the top guy or why his face wasn’t on the collector’s cups and so on. And I thought back to my dealings with Punk, whom I committed to by making him a champion on his first night working for us because I understood and recognized his importance to the fans. But my appreciation and efforts were answered with a big wet shit courtesy of CM Punk. I guess because I wasn’t Vince, my efforts were meaningless.
Well Punk, I’ll tell you the same thing I tell the virgins, “Thanks for nothing”! As a worker I have a great deal of respect for you. As a person, you’re a fucking douchbag who belives his own hype.
We all know that your promos in the WWE are a work. We know you’re taking time off and more than likely you’ll be a surprise entrant into the Royal Rumble next year. We know you’ll win it and end up main eventing WrestleMania for the title, because I don’t see how it makes sense for Cena to defend against The Rock.
You know how I know Punk? Because there’s no where else for you to work. You’re not stupid enough to wrestle the best years of your life in clueless TNA/Impact Wrestling. Japan is always an option, but do you really want to do that forever? They don’t have action figures, T-shirts, PPVs, collector’s cups and ice cream bars. You know you can’t make a living in this economic recession on the indy scene, especially when your asking price will be a minimum of $5,000 per appearance because you’re a headliner fresh off of TV.
You know what else I know Punk? I know there are two things in life that I’ll never do. I’ll never climb Mount Everest and I’ll never work with a douchebag like you!
Can you dig it?