CM Punk will always go down as one of the most controversial personalities in wrestling history. The legendary wrestler walked out on WWE almost three years ago due to frustration with how the company was using him, his physical issues and an overall disdain for working there. Punk has completely left wrestling in the past, with his new motivation being a career in mixed martial arts, but he is still heavily discussed in wrestling circles. Fans chant his name quite frequently at WWE events when they’re bored or upset with something on the show as a way to speak out against the company.
Wrestlers discuss the life and career of Punk in various media platforms due to the interest in him. Polarizing figures always generate attention and Punk definitely has that going for him. Many people in wrestling absolutely loathe him because of the fact that his confidence leans towards being cocky and because his loud mouth commands controversy. Punk trying to distance himself from wrestling has led to him finding even more enemies following his retirement. A few souls still love him and hold a close friendship with him. We’ll look at both sides of Punk’s wrestling relationships with eight wrestlers that love him and eight that hate him.
16. Loves Him: John Cena
The professional rivalry between John Cena and CM Punk led to a great friendship forming between the two. Punk originally disliked Cena due to the fact that Cena made some critical comments about Punk’s progression in the company before Punk became a main-eventer. They used it in their incredible feud during the summer that saw Punk reach his peak as a huge star in WWE.
Punk and Cena started putting each other over in interviews following the rivalry. The mutual respect and working together as the two top stars in the industry made them friends despite the drastically different personalities. Cena is a company guy and Punk is anti-authority. It made them great opponents. Cena still says kind words about Punk any time he is asked about Punk. The potential of Punk one day returning to the WWE ring is something Cena would likely try to talk WWE management into making happening.
15. Hates Him: The Undertaker
CM Punk made a very powerful enemy when he started to rub The Undertaker the wrong way on multiple occasions. Rumors circulated that Undertaker wasn’t fond of Punk when they feuded back in 2009. Punk lost the title to Undertaker in a very short Hell in a Cell match that left fans confused at the ending. Undertaker apparently had a confrontation backstage with Punk about him not dressing for the part as a world champion. Punk had a snarky retort that potentially led to the short title loss.
The relationship never got off on the right foot and things were worse as their big WrestleMania 29 match approached. Punk has admitted he wasn’t happy about working with the legend at the biggest show of the year despite the fact that “the streak” was still alive and one of the biggest attractions in WWE. The goal of Punk was to main-event WrestleMania by closing the show. Undertaker definitely didn’t find it endearing that someone failed to show respect when facing him on the big stage.
14. Loves Him: Luke Gallows
Luke Gallows returned to the WWE along with tag team partner Karl Anderson earlier this year and luckily the company doesn’t reference his past run. WWE primarily treated Gallows as a joke playing a fake Kane character and later the Festus gimmick. The only bright spot during Gallows’ first run in the company was being a member of the Straight Edge Society. Gallows received the spot in the group as the idea of CM Punk.
The passion of Punk saw him have great ideas for other wrestlers on the roster. As a friend, Punk went to bat for Gallows by making him the second in command of the Straight Edge Society. They worked well together during the entirety of the group before WWE gave up on it. Punk and Gallows remained close friends through the years. At one point, Punk gave a shot out to Gallows during a worked shoot promo by trashing the company for firing him. Gallows has put over Punk over the years whenever asked about the kind of guy he is.
13. Hates Him: Elijah Burke
Former WWE star Elijah Burke was one of the valued commodities on the ECW brand along with CM Punk. Both men were arguably the top prospects on the show with the company having faith in them becoming future main-eventers. Punk obviously blossomed into a legend, but Burke struggled and was released from WWE much faster than anyone expected. The two ECW rivals apparently held a strong disdain for each other behind the scenes.
Punk revealed that Burke was his least favorite person to work with and called him a diva. Burke responded calling out Punk for not saying it to his face and tried to laugh off Punk’s opinion being credible. It is rather shocking that there was heat between Punk and Burke considering they had a couple of very good matches against each other. Burke is currently working in TNA as a lead color commentator and Punk is obviously out of the business. We’ll likely never see them cross paths again.
12. Loves Him: Paul Heyman
The first person to believe in CM Punk as a potential future WWE Champion during his time in developmental was Paul Heyman. As a visionary for the world of professional wrestling, Heyman spotted Punk’s talents and knew he would represent what the future of WWE should be. Heyman often received negative feedback for putting this much stock in Punk considering his look and style were rather unconventional at the time.
The main reason Heyman left WWE following the ECW brand disaster with that atrocious December to Dismember PPV was due to a disagreement with Vince McMahon regarding Punk. Heyman wanted Punk to leave the show as ECW Champion, but McMahon was insistent on Bobby Lashley winning. It led to Heyman walking out. Punk gave Heyman a shout out years later calling himself a “Paul Heyman guy” and the two would eventually get to work together on-screen. Heyman still shows support to Punk in interviews discussing the departure from WWE.
11. Hates Him: Teddy Hart
One of the first enemies CM Punk made in his wrestling career was the controversial Teddy Hart. As one of the next generation members of the Hart family, Teddy had a huge ego and often rubbed others the wrong way. During their time in TNA, Punk and Hart actually got into a legitimate fight outside of the ring. The popular belief according to stories from those that would know is that Hart actually got the better of Punk.
Following the incident, Punk and Hart insulted each other on the internet and in various interviews. Most people in wrestling would side with Punk given Teddy’s reputation as a huge jerk. Even his uncle Bret Hart has called Teddy a screw-up that needs to get mental help. Teddy still trashes Punk any time he is asked about the incident and would like to fight Punk again. You can’t blame him for having pride in knowing he beat up a UFC fighter.
10. Loves Him: Brock Lesnar
An odd friendship in wrestling history has to be Brock Lesnar and CM Punk being buddies. Both are malcontents and share similar passions in mixed marital arts. The fact that Paul Heyman was the closest confidant of each man likely helped them create a bond when working in WWE together. Punk revealed that Brock actually helped give him advice for his transition into UFC following his WWE departure.
One of the best performances from Lesnar during his WWE run over the past couple of years was against Punk at SummerSlam 2013 in a classic match. As mentioned by Dean Ambrose in interviews, Lesnar doesn’t necessarily like to put out the most strenuous efforts in his matches. Brock gave his all in the match with Punk to put together something special. It is a testament to the respect he has for Punk as a performer and a peer.
9. Hates Him: Hornswoggle
CM Punk is definitely a bit paranoid these days when it comes to those he keeps a close relationship with. Hornswoggle was one of his better friends during the WWE days. That friendship ended for the most trivial of reasons. According to Hornswoggle in a shoot interview with Kayfabe Commentaries, he asked Punk for the phone number of a mutual friend and Punk ended the friendship claiming he was being used. Losing a number and asking for it is considered friendship-ending in the mind of Punkster.
Hornswoggle seemed genuinely hurt about his former friend thinking that poorly of him and ending a relationship for something silly. Many of the former friends of Punk have similar stories of him no longer being in contact with them. Punk claimed Chris Jericho was using him to try to get a juicy podcast out of their friendship at one point. Hornswoggle definitely has reason to dislike Punk for the way he ended their bond.
8. Loves Him: Rey Mysterio
One of the best opponents for CM Punk during his WWE stint was Rey Mysterio. They actually worked together on the independent circuit in a memorable triple threat match involving Eddie Guerrero before all three were eventually hired by WWE. Mysterio and Punk had a couple of noteworthy feuds in WWE, including one that resulted in Punk shaving his head following a Hair vs. Mask match. Punk named Mysterio as his favorite opponent on multiple occasions.
Mysterio left WWE shortly after Punk for many of the similar reasons. The schedule and negative impact it had on his body was too much. In interviews, Rey has shown support for Punk and said he was one of the most standup people he has known in the wrestling business. Both men had similar journeys working their way to the top of the wrestling world following a long road and they formed a close relationship from it.
7. Hates Him: Ryback
CM Punk’s infamous Art of Wrestling podcast interview discussing his reasoning for leaving WWE featured him burying many names. One of the surprising targets of Punk’s wrath was Ryback. Punk hated working with The Big Guy and actually called him “The Steroid Guy” at one point. According to Punk, Ryback worked stiff with him when he was injured and he believes Ryback was intentionally trying to injure him.
Ryback fired back at Punk on a few occasions after being taken back at the comments. Earlier this year, Ryback took a shot at Punk’s injury woes setting back his UFC debut by joking about being the reason for the physical health issues. Ryback took the insults of Punk personally and has not shied away from calling out Punk for lying. Considering Ryback recently left WWE in frustration with how he was being used, maybe he and Punk have more things in common than they know.
6. Loves Him: Chris Hero
One of the few longtime friends of CM Punk to still have a relationship with him today is Chris Hero. The independent wrestling legend had many classics against Punk in their early careers, including a 90 minute TLC Match in front of a few hundred people. You don’t risk your body with someone else for such little reward without developing a strong bond. Punk and Hero stayed close over the years and are tight today.
Hero wrote a touching message on social media about his pride for Punk having the guts to risk his body and reputation by stepping foot in a UFC octagon following his loss to Mickey Gall. Punk ended his friendship with longtime best friend Colt Cabana due to Cabana visiting WWE shows backstage to see friends. That means Hero is now likely the closest friend Punk still has from his time in the wrestling industry.
5. Hates Him: Jeff Hardy
The storyline between CM Punk and Jeff Hardy for the World Championship was one of the biggest time periods of Punk’s career. It led to him finally showcasing the straight edge heel persona he used in Ring of Honor to become a hot commodity. Hardy was the perfect opponent too given his personal issues with drugs and alcohol in the past leading to his demise in WWE multiple times. They used reality for a compelling angle between the two stars.
Hardy didn’t appreciate Punk being similar to the character he was portraying. According to Jeff, Punk had a holier than thou attitude due to his straight edge lifestyle. One specific video went viral of Jeff and Matt Hardy both insulting Punk in a diner appearing to be under the influence. The dislike Jeff had for Punk was shown perfectly there. Some personalities just don’t mix and the differences between Punk and Hardy caused conflict.
4. Loves Him: Kofi Kingston
Kofi Kingston was the closest friend CM Punk made during his time in WWE. Punk and Kingston had many similarities bringing them together as road partners. Both men had lifelong dreams of making it to WWE. They also shared a passion for video games and the superhero culture. Kingston and Punk were also viewed as the most promising young talents in WWE for a while. WWE paired them together to win the WWE Tag Team Championship and it only brought them closer together.
Punk’s words for WWE and WWE talent have been mostly negative, but Kingston is a rare exception to the rule. On the Art of Wrestling podcast, Punk stated he very rarely watched WWE content. One of the only things he tried to get his eyes on was New Day segments due to Kofi suggesting he check it out when the faction started to become a big deal. Punk watching WWE at all is a huge deal and a testament to Kingston’s friendship with him.
3. Hates Him: Roman Reigns
CM Punk went directly after Roman Reigns in his tell-all podcast interview for being WWE’s golden boy. Part of the reason fans started to turn on Reigns at live shows was due to Punk revealing WWE went well out of their way to protect Reigns at the expense of the other Shield members and just about every member of the roster. Punk also claimed The Shield was his idea, but he wanted Chris Hero in the place of Reigns as the third man.
Reigns didn’t take too fondly to Punk’s comments about him. At a question and answer appearance, Reigns was asked about the origin of The Shield. Reigns referenced Punk’s allegations of it being his creation and Roman responded by saying the only thing Punk made up was the lame Pepsi tattoo on his shoulder. The disdain between Reigns and Punk could lead to a big money match if Punk ever decides to come back to WWE.
2. Loves Him: Bret Hart
Bret Hart has adopted CM Punk as one of his favorite wrestlers of the modern era. Punk working his way into a main event spot and being a workhorse as the champion endeared him to Hart. One of the most important things to Bret in a wrestler is someone that works hard but knows how to protect the health of opponents. Punk was very safe and practiced the same philosophy of Hart.
Both men happened to share a mutual hatred of Triple H. Hart stated he supported Punk and believed Triple H was against him due to favoritism towards bodybuilders. Punk named Hart as one of his influences for getting into wrestling so it has to be an honor to get such strong praise from an icon. The fact that Bret also left WWE in controversial fashion following a public falling out with the McMahon family makes him linked to Punk as well.
1. Hates Him: Triple H
The biggest enemy of CM Punk in the wrestling world has always been Triple H. Punk and Triple H never meshed and always had animosity between the two. Triple H used to insult Punk during the early days of his WWE career for not looking like a wrestler is “supposed to.” The two had tension rising for many years and it played out during their on-screen feud. Punk made very personal insults to Triple H and many others with power in WWE.
Triple H allegedly sabotaged Punk’s push by having Kevin Nash cost him the WWE Championship. This all culminated with Triple H coming out of semi-retirement to defeat Punk in a match. The promo battles between Punk and Triple H saw them dig into their genuine feelings to insult the other. Triple H let it all out with his dislike for Punk feeling he was entitled and an arrogant brat. Punk likely won’t return to WWE with Triple H having more power than ever but it could be the biggest attraction match left on the table.