clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

WWE stars Seth Rollins, Ryback and more on CM Punk’s UFC debut - Courage, respect

When it comes to CM Punk’s crossover into mixed martial arts (MMA), it seems everyone has an opinion.

Whether it’s predictions of him getting starched in 30 seconds or not paying his dues for the right to step foot inside the world-famous Octagon, it’s safe to say most have been negative.

But, who better to give their take than Punk's former WWE colleagues, who spent countless hours and days working and traveling with Punk on the wrestling circuit.

"Any conversation that I had with CM Punk dating back, even when he was still in WWE and was dreaming of getting involved in mixed martial arts, is that he was doing a switchover of careers from becoming a sports entertainer to becoming a full-time, career-oriented mixed martial artist," Paul Heyman told earlier this year.

Heyman knows all too well the appeal for certain athletes to test their skills in other forms of combat, as he’s the longtime manager and close friend to Brock Lesnar, who is undoubtedly the most successful former wrestler to dabble in MMA.

For one of the top stars under the WWE roster today, Seth Rollins, Punk -- real name Phil Brooks -- has his full support as he says CM paved the way for him in WWE.

"He's a guy who led the charge for a long time," Rollins said. "He's one of the first indie guys in a long, long time to really shake [up] the main roster in WWE and he paved the way for Daniel Bryan, for myself, Dean Ambrose, Cesaro, and those guys.

"Say what you will about his attitude and his relationship with the company right now, but I wish him the best and I hope that he is successful -- win, lose or draw," said Rollins.

Even his rivals are hoping Punk does well as Ryback — real name Ryan Reeves — who has a bitter history with CM, wishes him well and give him his due for doing what most normal humans don’t have the courage to do.

"From a basic human being standpoint, he is showing courage doing something the majority of people on this planet will never do and that is step in a cage and fight in front of millions of people," Reeves said. "I respect he wants to test himself and has the courage to do so. For that reason alone, while I don't condone him saying the things he said about me, I want to him do well. Any man can beat another man on any given night, so I just hope he achieves what he is looking for in this and I will leave it at that."

Long-time veteran of professional wrestling, Scott Hall, says the difference between Lesnar and Punk's debut are obvious, and he gives props to UFC for not building Punk up to be a mega threat like they did "Beast Incarnate."

"I think people tune in to watch Brock win and I think they are going to tune in to watch Punk lose," Hall told ESPN. "I think they employed that strategy in their marketing so if he does anything but get creamed I think he comes out okay. They are not building him up as a big hype or anything.

"They are taking the strategy like let's wait and see. They even showed him training in the cage and all the others guys were kind of standing around yelling at him because it is kind of like, 'Let's see what you got'," he concluded.

Indeed, all eyes will be on Punk this weekend (Sat., Sept 10, 2016) when he finally makes the long walk to the Octagon to face Mickey Gall at UFC 203 from Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

For more on that pay-per-view (PPV) event — which features a Heavyweight title fight between Stipe Miocic and Alistair Overeem — click here.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania