WWE Champion CM Punk has made his name of late as a man who?s not afraid to speak the truth, or at least, to speak his mind. Ever since that fateful night in Las Vegas 19 months ago, The Straight Edge Superstar has proven he?s not afraid to target anyone in WWE, from the Chairman to the Chief Operating Officer to the Executive Vice President of Talent Relations and Interim General Manager of Monday Night Raw, if it means getting what he wants. He?s even taken to launching his ?pipe bombs? at the WWE Universe as of late, which if not incredibly ironic, is certainly brazen and an unmistakable mark of how boundless Punk?s rage is at the ?system? that surrounds him.
But among the volleys of the champion?s latest verbal blitzkrieg this past Monday are strewn a couple shells that may have woken the sleeping dragon. Punk said:
?I don?t care about the people of Tampa Bay, Fla. There are good guys and there are bad guys in this world, and make no mistake about it ladies and gentlemen: I am a bad, bad man, and I can freely admit it.
?But Ric Flair will come out here and he?ll cry his 182-year-old eyes out and say ?Oh, I did it for all of you? ? now [the Tampa crowd is] wooing.?Shawn Michaels can come out here and lose his smile and find his smile, but then in a tearful Hall of Fame speech he?ll say that his entire career was just to gain your acceptance. And then a man like Edge is forced to retire and he?ll say that he misses competing for people like you. Now these people, these men are either weak or they?re dishonest and they?re liars. It?s either one or the other ?
?Two types of people on this earth: those born to be in the spotlight and those born to pay to see the people in the spotlight. You are born to pay to see champions like me. It?s not the other way around.
Even for a Superstar known for scorched-earth missives, those are strong words. But as the old saying goes, two can play that game, and never one to take abuse from anybody, ?The Nature Boy? himself has fired back.
?The fans do matter,? Flair told WWE.com in an exclusive interview. ?When I was performing at any point in time, I performed because I wanted to be the best, No. 1. I wanted fans to walk out that door ? whether they liked me or didn?t like me ? saying they saw everything they expected to and more.?
The 16-time World Champion (and recently dubbed one of the ?creators of swag??by LeBron James) is certainly no stranger to controversy and divided reactions. Flair?s storied career was marked by endless stints of wheeling and dealing his way to various championships, which he didn?t always retain through the most scrupulous of means, much like Punk. Despite the fact ?Naitch? has certainly amassed his fair share of enemies through the years, however, he emphasized the importance of performing for the WWE Universe. ?
?I performed to gain fans? respect,? Flair said. ?I think I?ve gained respect because I haven?t always been the most loved guy in the wrestling business. I spent a lot of years being a bad guy.?
Asked whether he could find some common ground with Punk?s insistence that he performs for his own benefit, though, The Dirtiest Player in the Game responded, quite emphatically, in the negative.
?No! Why would I perform for myself?? Flair said. ?I couldn?t wait to walk out that door and show people what I had, whether they liked me or not.?
And as it turns out, ?Naitch? might have a ?pipe bomb? or two of his own left in the tank despite the champion?s critical assumptions; he concluded the interview not with an anecdote or a platitude, but a personal message to CM Punk himself.
?Like I said, if you like me or don?t like me, learn to love it baby, because it is the best thing going today. And that?s the quote I?ll drop on him [down the line] if I see him. WOO!!!?