We know, dear wrestling fans, that CM Punk (né Phil Brooks) has not been a part of WWE for the last several years. But the current UFC fighter left his mark on the wrestling world in his own way. With WrestleMania 33 coming up, the timing seemed perfect to present our exclusive interview with the former WWE heavyweight champion, who spoke at length about a certain hockey team that's very close to his heart, despite his Chicago roots…
You're originally from Chicago, so your love of hockey would've started with the Blackhawks, but where do the Canadiens come in?
CM PUNK: With hockey, when you're young, you kind of gravitate towards certain players or certain positions, and I just loved gnarly goalies. The best goalie around back then was Patrick Roy. Red is my favourite colour. I'm a little kid, so I'm just like, 'That's the jersey, that's cool.' Plus, the Hawks weren't doing so hot when I was a kid. They made it pretty difficult, for a while, to be a Hawks fan - with not spending money on players, TV blackouts of home games, crazy ticket gouging. I just gravitated towards Roy, I think because of his attitude, mostly, because he was the goalie, and he knew it but he wasn't overly cocky; he was confident. Obviously, I always got a kick out of his tantrums, still do. I hope to see him land a coaching job somewhere because I just love Patrick Roy.
Are people ever upset that your allegiance as a Chicagoan isn't to the Blackhawks?
CMP: I get that all the time. I'm a hockey fan, so I've travelled all over this world wrestling and I've been fortunate enough to be approached by different teams. You can find pictures out there of me in a Buffalo Sabres jersey: they invite me to games, they let me use their facility, I work out there. As a public figure and sports fan, that's just one thing you have to weather: people tweet you. It's the same with baseball. I've thrown out first pitches at numerous baseball parks, and it would be kind of disrespectful to wear a Cubs jersey while throwing out a ball anywhere else. It's a thrill to be friendly with all these different franchises and different sports teams, so you just roll with the punches when it comes to 'diehard fans.'
What is your all-time favorite Canadiens moment?
CMP: I don't think Canadiens fans would necessarily appreciate my favorite Canadiens moment, because it's really more of a Patrick Roy moment. When he was in that game and getting shellacked and it was 7-0, and he was kept in… I think that was a great sports moment. He walked off, and he said, "trade me," and he was so vocal, and everybody heard it and everybody knew it. He immediately got traded and went on to win the Cup. I like that story. I can't imagine I would be such a fan of it if I was born and raised in Montreal. "The Curse of St. Patrick" - I like that story, I don't know why; it just kind of resonates with me.
You're in a tough business. The Canadiens added some toughness of their own this year. What do you think of the addition of tough guy like Shea Weber and Andrew Shaw?
CMP: I love Shaw. Shaw's my buddy. I think he might have to cool it with some of the penalties he gets, but when he was in Chicago, he was a guy that would just park in front of the net and stay in the hard places, and that's how he scored.
Shea Weber, too. Dare I say, was that the biggest 1-for-1 trade the NHL has seen in a very long time? Shocking. I remember when all that went down; I thought that was crazy, but they're building up the team and they're making the team better in front of possibly the best goaltender in the League. If everybody plays to the level of Carey Price, the Cup's coming back to Canada pretty soon. Out of all the Canadian teams, I obviously root for the Canadiens.
Given your schedule, how do you manage to keep up with the team and follow along?
CMP: Probably the biggest way is Twitter. You can get information pretty quickly; teams are always sending information out. The NHL app is an easy way to watch games anywhere, that's the biggest way I do it. I have a friendly rivalry with various mascots, always chirping back-and-forth on Twitter. With technology now, you can watch games on your phone in the middle of a swamp in Louisiana if you want.
Have you had a chance to see the Habs play at home?
CMP: No, and It's a bucket list thing for sure. I feel like I could go at any point and just see a home game. I'm waiting for a playoff game. I just think that'd be more electric. Just watching it on television, any time there's a playoff game there, it's pretty so I'll wait for the playoffs. Knock on wood.
How about a fight at the Bell Centre?
CMP: I would love to fight at the Bell Centre. I think if you put Georges St. Pierre on top at the Bell Centre, everybody in the UFC would want to fight on that card. It'd be pretty cool. And you're talking to a guy who has been to probably every arena you could possibly name. I've never been at the Bell Centre, though, so that would be fun.
Who is a bigger Canadiens fan between yourself and GSP?
CMP: I don't know if he's a hockey guy. Just based on the fact that he's Canadian, he might get dibs on his love for the Canadiens a little bit more, but I love hockey. Maybe we're neck and neck.
Who's your favorite current player?
CMP: Andrew Shaw, that's easy. Former Blackhawk. I do appreciate the hell out of Carey Price, though. I don't think you can be a hockey fan in 2017 and not appreciate what that guy can do.
Which Hab has the best chance against you in the octagon?
CMP: Is Shea Weber a tough guy? He's pretty gnarly, huh. I'll go with Shea. As long as he doesn't have a stick and a puck, I'm ok. I don't want to defend myself against a 104 mph slapshot.
What would your technique be with him?
CMP: I'd probably go after his legs. He's a big guy. He likes to fish, though, so maybe I'd distract him with some fish, like, "Hey, Shea, look at these fishing lures!" And then I'd go low.