Wrestling fans thrive on backstage stories, almost as much as they enjoy the action WWE puts on in front of the camera. Be it the Montreal Screwjob involving Bret Hart and Vince McMahon, or the locker room fight between Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar, the fascination is always there.
One person always happy to open up on backstage drama is Bruce Prichard, Vince McMahon's former right-hand man. Throughout the run of his podcast Something to Wrestle With he has detailed numerous behind-the-curtains tales, including the tale of how CM Punk overcame backstage heat to get the eye of Vince McMahon.
"Punk probably generated more heat backstage than he did in front of the camera, but for me, I always liked CM Punk because he had a genuine love for the business," Prichard revealed.
"He was a fan, he enjoyed the business, and he was different. And he didn't take people's shit and I liked that. I like the fact that he stood up and was unique in his own way and for somebody to come into a business that was heavy on the reputation of drugs and partying and all this stuff and be a straight-edge guy and denounce drugs and partying, not just publicly, but backstage with the guys, that was taken as a negative when it should've been taken as a positive"
Prichard, who recently returned to Impact Wrestling (formerly TNA), credit himself with helping Punk get over by pushing the straight-edge aspect of the Punk persona.
"Everybody used to make fun of him because they didn't understand him," Prichard said. "They didn't understand the tattoos. They didn't understand his promos. And I would sit there because Punk's a pretty even keel guy. And I'd ask him questions."
"So one day I decided to go take a camera crew. Just me and Bubba Dean and we went up in the arena and I asked Punk to come up. And I essentially just interviewed him. I put the camera on Punk.
I sat off camera and just asked him questions. 'Man tell me about this tattoo.' And, he told me the story behind it. 'Tell me about this tattoo, this other tattoo' and he'd tell me the story about it. 'What is the Straight Edge Society? What does that mean?' And most people did not know what any of that shit meant. They didn't understand why Punk was straight-edge. They didn't understand his adversity to drinking. Didn't understand the life that he lived that made him feel that way."
"So I just asked. I just kept drilling down, drilling down to get him to tell me what makes [Punk] tick. They took the footage, and they took it to the studio and the guys who were about that age group they listened to his interview and listened to his explanations and were like 'this guy's deep, this guy's great!' Then all of a sudden people were like 'well, we gotta do something with him and Vince let him in."
CM Punk began his pro-wrestling career on the independent circuits, later becoming a standout star in Ring of Honor and Pro Wrestling Zero-One before signing for the WWE in 2005. He left the federation in 2014 to pursue a career in MMA but lost his first UFC fight to rookie Mickey Gall. He is currently preparing to appear on MTV reality show The Challenge: Champs vs Pros.