Fans and pundits have long debated what the CM in CM Punk stands for. Some have said it means "Chick Magnet" or "Chicago Made." Well, here’s another consideration to add to the list: Controversy Magnet. The self-proclaimed Best in the World set the pro wrestling world on fire, but also applies a scorched-earth policy to those he doesn’t see eye-to-eye with. Whether it be in ROH, WWE, or AEW, Punk has feuded with numerous wrestling personalities about a variety of issues. Some of these conflicts have been well publicized in the press, while others have come to light much later on during interviews or discussions about Punk.
Expectedly, when people work together, not everyone will get along and there will be friction at times. However, there are a few relationships where the heat is still nuclear between the individuals and it shows no signs of cooling off. From spats about stolen finishers to arguments about giving out another friend’s phone number and actual backstage brawls, here are the wrestlers who CM Punk has major heat with.
In 2021, AEW experienced its own revolution (no, not the PPV), as former WWE talent jumped ship and signed up with the burgeoning promotion. CM Punk was undoubtedly one of the marquee names and familiar faces from yesteryear, but he was also joined by more recent WWE superstars, such as three-quarters of The Undisputed Era: Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, and Bobby Fish. Fish didn’t stick around in AEW for too long, departing less than a year after debuting due to the inability to agree on fresh and satisfactory contract terms. Not long after his departure, the former member of the reDRagon tag team opened up about his time in AEW and discussed topics such as Punk.
Appearing on NBC Sports, Fish criticized Punk’s martial arts abilities and the wrestler as an individual. "Phil, after the match, was a c***," Fish said, "and frankly, as a martial artist, I went and laid my shoulders down for you, like you should be grateful that I did, because on national TV, if I decided that if I wanted to f*****g Haku your ass, I could have, because you’re that little bit of a threat in my world." Elaborating more on this thoughts about the Straight Edge Superstar, Fish lambasted how Punk utilized KENTA’s finisher, the GTS, but didn’t bother to even change the name of the move. In addition, Fish challenged Punk to a fight.
In pro wrestling, there are a bunch of strange unspoken rules between wrestlers. For example, there’s a belief that if someone uses another performer’s signature move, they should ask that specific wrestler for permission first and change the name of the move. It’s totally okay if they use chops in the ring and everyone in attendance goes "woo," though … but hey, it makes sense to the people who work in the business, and that’s what matters.
Judging by NJPW wrestler KENTA’s comments, CM Punk never spoke to him about using the finisher that the Japanese pro wrestler invented: the Go 2 Sleep. When Bobby Fish first raised the alarm bells, KENTA took to Twitter, reposting Fish’s comments and stating: "Hey Bobby. You are 100% right." A few days later, KENTA posted another tweet, explaining how he wasn’t able to use his own finisher for four years and how it was "one of my worst experience[s] in this business." KENTA is alluding to his time in the WWE as Hideo Itami when he didn’t use the move. That said, he arrived in the WWE when Punk was on his way out and soon became embroiled in a lawsuit with the company, so the inability to use the GTS may be more with the WWE trying to distance themselves from anything to do with Punk than trying to preserve the move.
The Young Bucks
Before CM Punk joined AEW, he appeared to be on good terms with The Young Bucks. The parties even teased Punk joining the promotion by playfully tweeting each other and keeping the fans guessing if he would join them. Considering they were all ROH alumni and indie darlings, it looked like this partnership would be a match made in heaven for everyone involved. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way, as the now-infamous All Out post-show media scrum revealed some serious heat between Punk and the AEW EVPs.
Punk blamed the EVPs for leaking rumors to the press that he tried to get Colt Cabana fired, while also trying to bury his push as a babyface. He lashed out at their leadership qualities, stating they "weren’t fit to manage a Target" and insulting their intelligence. Right after Punk’s comments, he walked backstage to his locker room and a brawl ensued between Punk, The Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, and Ace Steel, which resulted in a host of suspensions for everyone involved in the controversial incident. It’s highly unlikely that Punk and the Bucks will be sitting down for a future, fun-filled episode of "Being the Elite."
It’s widely known that CM Punk resents the fact he never headlined a WrestleMania for the WWE. Without a doubt, it’s clear this must have been a personal goal of his, so it’s natural that he’d have some frustrations over not achieving it in his time there. However, it appears he still holds a grudge about The Miz receiving the opportunity over him to headline ‘Mania in 2011.
In 2019, Punk returned as an analyst for the show "WWE Backstage," where he announced his arrival with the statement: "Just when they think they’ve got the answers, I change the culture." A while later, The Miz made a joke of this on a now-deleted clip shared on social media, saying, "Sorry I didn’t change the culture, my bad!" Punk didn’t react to this jest in kind, replying in a now-deleted tweet: "Go suck a blood money covered d*** in Saudi Arabia you f*****g dork." On the 411 Wrestling Interviews Podcast, The Miz addressed the issue, explaining he was surprised by Punk’s reaction to it since he was unaware of any bad blood between the two of them. "To be honest, I thought we were friends," he said. "And it’s just like one of those things where you’re like, ‘God, man.’ I don’t know. I just don’t know, like I really don’t."
Colt Cabana and CM Punk have a fascinating history. Both wrestlers are from Chicago and trained under Ace Steel (via Online World of Wrestling). In fact, all three men were part of a stable known as the Second City Saints. Outside of the ring, Cabana and Punk were the best of friends, stuck at the hip for many years. However, something personal happened between the two of them around the same time as Punk’s episode on "The Art of Wrestling" podcast dropped, which resulted in a lawsuit involving Punk, Cabana, and WWE physician Chris Amman, as per Sports Illustrated.
Cabana and Punk ended up suing each other afterwards, as their friendship tapped out rather than finding a second wind. For years afterwards, the two remained silent on the issues between them. However, Punk let rip on Cabana at the All Out post-event media scrum, where he went into explicit detail about their issues, the lawsuit between them, and made it very clear he had no interest in anything to do with Cabana. In addition, Punk shut down the rumor he had tried to get Cabana fired from AEW, putting the blame for that misinformation on the AEW EVPs and their alleged loose tongues with the press.
When many fans discuss the WWE’s rendition of ECW, there’s often a raised eyebrow attached to it. The reincarnation of the legendary promotion failed to light the world on fire like the O.G. did and is generally regarded as a misfire; however, it did have several bright spots that are overlooked. This version of ECW helped to launch the WWE careers of performers such as CM Punk and Elijah Burke, who all received significant TV time and established themselves as future superstars. Punk and Burke faced off in ECW more than a few times, though Punk wasn’t exactly a fan of their clashes.
While appearing on WISK FM (via Sportskeeda), Punk revealed Burke was his least favorite opponent. "Does anyone even remember Elijah Burke?" Punk said. "Oh, he was terrible. He is absolutely the worst. Absolutely the worst. Talk about a diva. Man oh man, sorry if you liked him."
When Burke was asked by PWMania (via SEScoops) about Punk’s comments about him, he stated that he wasn’t concerned about it. He explained how if he had something to say to Punk, he would have told it to his face — like he had done so before — rather than say it behind his back.
Out of all the people CM Punk has heat with, the most unexpected is Dylan Postl, better known as Hornswoggle in the WWE. Hardly anyone has ever had a bad word to say about Hornswoggle — unless he hit them in a groin with a shillelagh — yet even he seemed to have had a disappointing encounter with Punk in the past.
Appearing on Kayfabe Commentaries’ "YouShoot" series, Finlay’s former partner-in-crime revealed how he and Punk had been as thick as thieves for quite some time; however, there was one incident that changed everything between them. He explained how he asked for a phone number of a mutual friend that he’d lost, and Punk didn’t react well to the request, presuming that Hornswoggle was using him to get to someone else. Hornswoggle didn’t understand the reaction since they were both friends with the said person, but discussed how it changed everything afterwards and they no longer speak to each other.
Both Eddie Kingston and CM Punk view themselves as speakers of the truth. They proclaim to always be honest to a fault, even if it hurts feelings or may rub people up the wrong way. So it’s rather amusing to see how the two of them have real-life beef with each other. Punk hasn’t dived into their issues all that much, preferring to take occasional shots on Twitter or live television — in ways that doesn’t make it quite clear if it’s all a work or not.
Kingston, on the other hand, hasn’t shied away from what he feels towards Punk and other AEW stars. Chatting to "Busted Open Radio," Kingston explained how his sentiment towards Punk isn’t a work and called him "not a good dude." Elaborating further, he said, "I’ll give it to you plain and simple; I don’t like [Chris] Jericho, I don’t like Bryan [Danielson], I don’t like Claudio [Castagnoli], I don’t like Punk. Those are the people I don’t like in this company. And there’s nothing you can say or do or tell me that makes them different to me. I know who they are."
The way CM Punk and Ryback have been at each other’s throats, one would think they had a game-changing feud as grand and dramatic as Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, when it was more like a few matches that hardly anyone remembers. Yet, these two men probably like each other about as much as Ray Fisher and Joss Whedon. It all started when Punk revealed how stiff and dangerous he found Ryback to be in the ring on "The Art of Wrestling" podcast. "He’s very hurty," Punk said. "Sometimes deliberate. There was one time he kicked me in the stomach as hard as he could and he broke my ribs, right at the tail end. And I never got an apology for that."
Ryback didn’t appreciate Punk’s comments, believing them to be inaccurate and malicious. So he took digs at the Straight Edge Superstar on social media and continues to do so when the opportunity presents itself. Explaining why he hasn’t let it go, Ryback revealed on his YouTube channel that it’s because Punk’s comments had a negative impact on his professional wrestling career.
The scripted drama of pro wrestling is what draws fans in, but it’s the real-life heat that keeps all of us invested. The heat between "Hangman" Adam Page and CM Punk presumably started out about nothing but boiled over into something much bigger over the course of a few months. In the build-up to their championship clash at Double or Nothing 2022, Page cut a promo on Punk on "AEW Dynamite," which went off script and suggested Page needed to save AEW from someone like the Straight Edge Superstar. Reportedly, Page did so because of the backstage belief that Punk had tried to convince Tony Khan to get rid of Colt Cabana — something which Khan since denied.
Months later, Punk served a receipt to Page when he called him out on "AEW Dynamite," when he knew Hangman wasn’t scheduled to respond, and proceeded to brand his actions as "coward s***." Then, at the All Out post-show media scrum, Punk revealed that Page had gone into business for himself, like he did so as well, and laid into the former AEW World Heavyweight Champion. He threw several expletives around when describing Page and called his behavior "a disgrace to the industry."
CM Punk and AJ Styles have a lot in common with regards to their pro wrestling journeys. Both men established themselves in an industry of big men by winning over the crowd with their performances in the ring. Even before they hit the big time and became household names, they dominated the indies and developed the reputation of being two of the best wrestlers in the world. Yet, while they might share a similar story between the ropes, Punk and Styles aren’t exactly sharing hockey anecdotes and dog-grooming tips behind the scenes.
Punk and Styles have clashed — pardon the pun — in the press a few times in the past. The Phenomenal One, though, made his thoughts about the Straight Edge Superstar incredibly clear on a Twitch session (via Republic World). When asked by a fan about a potential match-up between the two, Styles replied, "Nope. That will never happen … I don’t have to go into detail about that one. I think it’s pretty obvious where things stand. I’m not a fan." Fortunately, for fans of both men as performers, the two wrestled each other in ROH and TNA, so there is evidence of how epic a bout between the two of them can be — even if they don’t like each other in the real world.
CM Punk has built a career on being an anti-establishment personality. In WWE, he stole the limelight with the Pipe Bomb promo where he laid into all the authority figures, including Triple H. However, their tension wasn’t just on screen but behind it, too. After Punk left the WWE, he revealed on Colt Cabana’s "The Art of Wrestling" podcast that he felt The Game didn’t do what was best for business, but himself instead. He also revealed how Vince McMahon wanted Punk to wrestle Triple H at WrestleMania XXX, to which Punk turned to The Game and replied: "All due respect, I do not need to wrestle you, you need to wrestle me."
To date, Triple H has remained reserved about any underlying tension between them. On "The Steve Austin Show" (via Sportskeeda), The Game claimed he didn’t know anything about the supposed issues between them, since he had no problems with the Straight Edge Superstar. While acknowledging he wished Punk and the WWE’s bitter feud could have been avoided and for all parties to have parted ways on better ways, he expressed how Punk held grudges about booking decisions and didn’t communicate if was unhappy about something when it happened.