Current UFC and former WWE performer CM Punk has a sometimes adversarial relationship with the media, and even with the fans.
Freelance writer Kevin Wong ran into it, and reflected thoughtfully on it, in a new piece for Complex. Entitled "The Second Act of CM Punk", the focus is where many articles about the former WWE champion are these days, a couple of years removed from his exit from pro wrestling and still a few months out from his first professional mixed martial arts fight - on the transition from one kind of combat sports performance to another.
For most of the discussion, Punk and Wong seem (we can only go on the writer's interpretation of events here) to get along at least respectfully and professionally. They discuss UFC's efforts to have their talents work with other sports' development programs as part of designing their own training center, and how Punk's own training with Duke Roufus has been.
The mention of his pro wrestling past and WWE rankles the Chicagoan.
I don't feel like fielding questions about it [WWE]. I've been there, I've done that, and I've accomplished everything I was going to.
Phil Brooks (Punk's real name) avoids addressing specific areas that he's working on at Roufusport in Milwaukee, which could be seen as strategic. But things really fall about when Wong asks if he's "anxious or intimidated" going from pro graps to MMA.
Whether it's his general disinterest in talking about anything related to Vince McMahon's company or this specific question, it sparks an exchange where the writer is lumped in with a group of Twitter users or other consumers of WWE, UFC and Punk for whom Brooks doesn't have time.
Punk: I get this question a lot, and it's like you guys think I'm an idiot. Like I didn't know MMA wasn't pre-determined or something like that. Have you ever tweeted at me, "Hey, do you know what you're getting into?"
Wong: I never have.
Punk: Okay. It sounds like you might have.
Wong: I don't mean to put you on the defensive...
Punk: I'm not on the defensive. Your question is insulting. You're asking me if I know the difference between the WWE and the UFC?
Wong: That's not what I'm asking.
Punk: That's exactly what you're asking. You say my fans say that? You're mistaken. My fans do not say that. I wouldn't say anything to them [my critics]. I don't justify stupidity with an answer. I don't give a shit what anybody thinks of me, whether I'm going to fight or not. I know what I'm going to do. If I did anything in my life based on someone's negative opinion on me, I would never fucking leave my house. My fans are people who don't tweet negative shit at me.
I greatly encourage you to head over to Complex to read the whole article. It contains quotes from others identified as being Punk's friends and confidants, and Wong closes with some thoughts on what constitutes a "fan" and how social media has changed the ways celebrities of all kinds interact with those who fuel their careers. That's also where he reveals that on of Brooks' handlers informed him that the fighter never wants to speak to him again.
Many dismiss Punk as an a**hole, and that's hard to deny when he labels himself a "sociopathic jerk". As someone who identifies as a "fan" - not only of him, but the artform he used to participate in which calls for a unique kind of public identity and ongoing relationship with the crowd - I find it much more interesting to consider how the world and pro wrestling have formed characters and personalities like his, or Steve Austin's, or Ric Flair's, or any of the other larger than life heroes and villains we love and/or hate, both on screen and (we think) in real life.
Wherever you stand on CM Punk, Kevin Wong's experience with him is going to be part of his legend.