Amidst the controversy following his latest run-in with a fellow member of the AEW roster backstage at All In, CM Punk was in Las Vegas last night (Aug. 30) at the Cauliflower Alley Club’s annual reunion, accepting one of the non-profit fraternal organization’s highest honors — the Iron Mike Mazurki Award.
Punk, who was announced for the honor named after one of the CAC’s founders and scheduled for last night’s event back in May, spoke for 45 minutes. He thanked those who inspired him or helped him achieve success in the wrestling business, and made no mention of his AEW issues. But it’s difficult to not consider some of Punk’s remarks in the context of his relationship with his current co-workers.
One reason was because Punk was introduced by his long-time friend and trainer Ace Steel, who was part of the infamous Brawl Out fight backstage after All Out 2022, and whose AEW status allegedly complicated Punk’s return to the company earlier this year. Steel remarked that Punk:
“... has never changed. No matter what anybody says about him, he hasn’t because he doesn’t put up with shit.”
Steel was one of the people Punk credited with giving him the foundation he needed to succeed in wrestling:
“The business was a lot different when I got in it but the basics and the fundamentals of professional wrestling are the same as they ever were. If it worked in the 1940s, it could work today, you just have to know how to apply it. The basics and the fundamentals of professional wrestling were taught to me by Ace Steel.”
He also thanked a long list of people, including Roddy Piper, Dusty Rhodes, Harley Race, Eddie Guerrero, Tracy Smothers, Chris Candido, Raven, JBL, Mickie James, and his wife AJ Mendez. Punk said it’s the respect of people like them that matter most to him:
“I know that throughout my career, I probably rubbed some people the wrong way. Some people like me, some don’t. What I always had was the backing of legends.
“... Roddy Piper is the reason I’m a wrestler today and I remember the last time I saw him and he told me he was proud of me. So, when people tell me that they don’t like me or the internet’s mad at me, I just kind of chuckle because Roddy Piper liked me, Dusty Rhodes liked me. I had the respect and the backing of Harley Race before I went to the WWE, and to me, that means more than all the money in the world. But because these legends put their stamp on me before anybody even knew who I was, it gave me the confidence and it gave me the ability to succeed in a place where I didn’t think I’d ever fit in.”
The 44 year old former WWE & AEW World champ went on to say that it’s inspiring the current and future generations that now inspires him:
“What means the most to me now is sharing a locker room and having those kids come up to me and they tell me, and I get emotional when they tell me, and they tell me, ‘I saw you sitting cross-legged on a stage in Las Vegas and that brought me back to wrestling.’ And I see a kid come up to me and they show me a tattoo and it says ‘straight edge’ and they say ‘I’ve never done drugs, smoked, drank because of you.’ And to me, just like the stamp of legends, that means so much to me. And if there’s a reason I’m still doing this, it’s that people come up to you and they say ‘You saved my life.’ It sounds a little far-fetched but goddamnit, I understand.”
You can check out a video of Punk’s full speech here.
Some of those Punk thanked were in attendance, and are among the pictures he posted on his Instagram Story. A few of the The Straight Edge Superstar’s old friends from his WWE days also made appearances in those pictures, like Rey Mysterio was on hand to present the Lucha Libre Award to Damian 666...
And James, who was given the Women’s Wrestling Award:
Seems like a special night. Congrats to all the honorees, and we’ll see what’s next for CM Punk.