CM Punk and WWE might be catching some flak for using the death of Paul Bearer as fodder for Punk's WrestleMania 29 match with The Undertaker, but the former WWE champion says he only is doing his job—and that is to make people mad at him.
In an interview with the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey, Punk calls it unfortunate that Bill Moody—who played Undertaker’s manager, Paul Bearer, and also worked as Percy Pringle III—passed away last month. But Punk also adds that he thinks Moody would have loved the angle as Punk tries to end Undertaker’s unbeaten WrestleMania streak:
My job is to get people to be mad at me and I think I do that very well. I think I blur the lines. Everything is designed to push people’s buttons—so it’s unfortunate that Percy had to die for him to be a part of this story—but trust me, he would have loved it. He really would have loved it.
While Punk thinks Moody would have loved it, it was initially reported that Moody’s family apparently did not. His sons, Michael and Daniel, commented on Facebook that Monday’s closing Raw segment—where Punk attacked Undertaker with Paul Bearer’s urn and Paul Heyman came out dressed like Paul Bearer—was not what they had expected to see when WWE approached them with the idea for it.
Since that report, Michael Moody has rethought his initial reaction and sent a text message to WWE saying he was "fine" with the segment.
Punk, who concluded a 434-day reign as WWE champion in January, is familiar with WWE’s grandest stage. Last year, as part of that title reign, he defeated Chris Jericho in a hard-fought contest.
Punk has faced Undertaker previously but never at a WrestleMania. He tells the newspaper that the fact of just being in a WrestleMania match intensifies the spotlight:
I could be in the ring with (fellow WWE star) Zack Ryder, and it’s a different environment than wrestling Zack Ryder anywhere else. You beat The Undertaker anywhere else and it’s a huge victory in itself, but to beat him at WrestleMania obviously should be the goal of everybody because he’s built this (winning) streak up to be this huge, monumental thing, so naturally, I want to break it.
In the interview, Punk says he only is trying to follow in the footsteps of Roddy Piper, one of his idols. Piper was known as much for his unpredictability as his wrestling skills. Punk says he tries to channel that.
As he puts it in the interview: “Nobody knew what crazy Piper was going to do. I would like to believe that there are some people out there who don’t know what crazy CM Punk is going to do.”
WrestleMania 29 will be held April 7 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Follow Bill Atkinson on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.