CM Punk was honored this week at the Cauliflower Alley Club Reunion and presented with the Iron Mike Mazurki Award.
Punk attended the festivities in Las Vegas on Tuesday and Wednesday, including an excellent speech on the night of the banquet when he received the honor.
Punk spoke for over forty minutes with an emphasis on his teachers in the industry and being accepted by an array of legends including Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes, and Roddy Piper.
He outlined the earliest memories of wrestling in his backyard in 1993 building a ring with his group of rings and adopting the CM Punk moniker at an early stage.
Pro wrestling became a bigger dream after meeting his soon-to-be trainers Ace Steele and Danny Dominion at a WWF event at the Rosemont Horizon (now Allstate Arena) and propelled his entry onto the independent scene and logged thousands of miles and got booked wherever he could.
Punk reflected on several deceased individuals that played a role in his development including Tracy Smothers, who opened his eyes to the idea of “calling it in the ring” rather than planning everything, working with Eddy Guerrero in 2001-02 when he was between WWE stints, Chris Candido, Jay Briscoe, and Windham Rotunda.
He said he never aspired of making it in WWE and thought his trajectory would be going to Japan and gaining stardom in the same vein as Bruiser Brody and Stan Hansen with a small profile in the U.S. between tours. It was in 2004 when Punk received a phone call from Tommy Dreamer and said WWE wanted to take a look at him. Punk said if they were serious, he wanted several months to get in proper shape “so they couldn’t say no”.
He credited Val Venis (Sean Morley) for getting his job after the two had a match on Sunday Night Heat in May 2005 in Philadelphia and Punk was signed and reported to OVW later that year with a call-up to the ECW brand in June 2006.
Punk repeatedly told the captive audience in Las Vegas that this speech and award were not about him but about those who helped him and kept placing the focus on his mentors. He shared with Teal Piper, who was in attendance, that the last time he saw her father, Roddy told Punk he was proud of her.
Punk made no mention of AEW or his recent issues with the company, only stating when the internet is mad at him that it means a whole lot more to him that legends like Race, Rhodes, and Piper accepted him.
He said it means a lot when younger talent in the locker rooms come up and state that they got into wrestling by watching his June 2011 promo in Las Vegas or adopted a straight-edge lifestyle because of Punk and that he saved their lives.
Overall, it was an excellent speech and Punk’s involvement with CAC this week was a welcome spotlight on a worthwhile organization.
Past recipients of the Iron Mike Mazurki Award include Hard Boiled Haggerty, Vic Christy, Gene LeBell, Dick “The Destroyer” Beyer, Stu Hart, Killer Kowalski, Bobby Heenan, Terry Funk, Harley Race, Bret Hart, Nick Bockwinkel, Steve Austin, Larry Hennig, Trish Stratus, Mark Henry, Madusa, and JBL.
In addition to CM Punk, the CAC honored Mickie James, Ron Simmons, The Nasty Boys, Koko B. Ware, Damian 666, Joe Malenko, Killer Karl Kox, Riea Von Slasher, Kevin Jefferies, Al Burke, and Koji Miyamoto with awards this year.