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Straight Up

CM Punk returns to his home turf for a World Wrestling Entertainment smackdown on August 18th.

CM Punk lounges at North Beach Club in Chicago
 

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) contender CM Punk has amassed an international following smitten by his punk attitude and “straight-edge” lifestyle (no drugs, no promiscuous sex). The Wicker Park resident, 29, returns to his home turf for a WWE smackdown August 18th. Chicago talked with Punk (née Phil Brooks) about his surging stardom, steroids, and his signature wrestling move: Welcome to Chicago, Mother******.

Q: How did you go from Lockport Township High School to professional wrestling?
A:
Thanks to the Internet, I wound up finding out about the Steel Domain Wrestling School [in Chicago]. After that, it’s a lot like the Mob. When you talk to anyone who is in wrestling, they’re very guarded about how you actually get into the business. 

Q: So there are certain things you can’t talk about. Like whether or not the sport is real?
A:
Things are less secretive. Wrestling is sports entertainment now; it’s not wrestling. And that can be confusing. It used to be passed off as a sport, and [WWE chairman] Vince McMahon himself has come out and said it’s like a soap opera for guys. But it’s violent. Our wrestlers are the best athletes in the world. We don’t have an off season; we wrestle hurt, beat up. You always have naysayers who tell you it’s fake, the big f-word, but I’ve never done anything more real in my entire life.

Q: So what’s the upside? Travel? Money?
A:
Definitely all of the above. But there’s a lot of sacrifice involved. For my entire life, I’ve put wrestling above everything else. I’m a single guy, I don’t have a family. Sure I get to see the world, but we’re so busy, I don’t usually see it.

Q: Why did you decide to go straight edge?
A:
My dad had a bit of a drinking problem, and drinking was something that I just didn’t want to do. 

Q: So you don’t take drugs of any kind? Not even caffeine?
A:
I’ve been known to have a cup of coffee. To me, it’s an interesting debate: Where do you draw the line? I don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t do mind-altering drugs, don’t do steroids or take painkillers. I don’t have promiscuous sex.

Q: How can you not take painkillers?
A:
I take a lot of naps.

Q: Your signature move is called Welcome to Chicago, Mother******? What is it?
A:
A Kill Hannah song. I saw them play at Metro a while ago. I thought, That’s Chicago to me; that’s the essence of the city. I chicken-wing some poor sucker’s arm, lift him in the air, turn him, and drop him on my knee.

Photograph: Saverio Truglia

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