When World Wrestling Entertainment brings their sports entertainment spectacle to North Jersey, as it did last Monday at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, even top-billed WWE superstars remark on the local fan intensity.
WWE Champion and Chicago-native C.M. Punk was among those in the wrestling organization who took note.
“North New Jersey is a hotbed for wrestling. [The fans] have always been interesting to say the least, so last Monday’s ‘Raw’ was awesome,” he said.
Punk has held the title of WWE Champion for nearly a year. In the ever-changing WWE universe where story lines bestow top-dog status as swiftly as they rip it away, Punk’s top-dog tenure is a testament to his ability to connect with even the most fickle of fans.
“I think if you look at my title reign… I think it says that I’m pretty damn good at what I do,” said Punk.
Mike Tedesco, 25, of Fairfield, was at the ‘Raw’ event this past Monday and noted the reaction that Punk received from the crowd.
“I’ve been waiting for a long time for someone to illicit the same reaction that John Cena gets from the crowd, and being there this past Monday, I can tell that C.M Punk is that guy,” said Tedesco.
Punk exalts the WWE organization for their global social media prominence and he is actively engaged in conversing with his more than 1 million Twitter followers. Punk’s online exchanges vary in subject matter from opponents and rivals to his day-to-day life as a professional wrestler. Twitter interactions add a new dimension to the wrestler-fan relationship, Punk said, adding that it can make even the biggest of stars seem more human to their followers.
Phil “C.M Punk” Brooks turns 34 on Friday and has been wrestling professionally for over a decade, including seven years with the WWE. Punk’s character is that of a villainous anti-hero with an overt need for audience adulation. Punk said his WWE character an extension of his own personality in some ways.
Punk’s wrestling influences come from legendary bad-boys of wrestling such as “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Shawn Michaels and Randy “Macho Man” Savage. His in-ring performance usually features a patented flying elbow, while his spiteful and arrogant nature on the microphone rivals that of Piper himself.
Punk harbors a desire Savage to be inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame.
“I hope that Randy would eventually get inducted in the WWE Hall Of Fame,” he said. “[Now that he’s passed] we don’t get to talk to Randy, share stories anymore and that part really sucks.”
For Punk, breaking into the main event scene in a WWE roster dominated by household names hasn’t been easy.
“I think that [stereotype is] always going to be there because most people have a preconceived notion of what a professional wrestler looks like, walks like,” he said.
Punk has held numerous titles in the company including the World Heavyweight Championship, Intercontinental Championship and World Tag Team Championships.
“C.M Punk is one of those guys who proves that with resiliency and dedication, making it to the top doesn’t have to remain fiction,” said John Hodorovych, resident of Whippany and a WWE fan for more than 15 years.
Punk will get lead billing on the new WWE ’13 videogame, available on leading gaming consoles beginning Oct. 30.
“I was excited, it’s a hell of an accomplishment,” said Punk.
Punk will be defending his coveted WWE Championship against the 291-pound undefeated Ryback in a ‘WWE Hell In A Cell’ match on Pay-Per-View this Sunday night.
“For me the most intriguing match on ‘Hell In A Cell’ is Punk’s match against Ryback,” said Tedesco. “Punk has had some great opponents, but none like Ryback. It should be interesting.”
As for Punk’s upcoming Sunday match, the WWE champ offered only a hint of the action that might unfold.
“They can expect a hell of a match. The fact that they don’t know who’s going to win, I just think that goes a long way to show you how good I am at what I do.”