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CM Punk is an American actor, mixed martial artist and retired professional wrestler. He is currently signed to both the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where he competes in the welterweight division, and to Cage Fury Fighting Championships (CFFC), where he works as a commentator. He is best known for his time in WWE, where his 434-day WWE Championship reign stands as the longest of the 21st century and the sixth-longest in history.
Brooks began his professional wrestling career on the American independent circuit, primarily with Ring of Honor (ROH) until signing with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in 2005. During his 15-year career, he won the WWE Championship twice, WWE's World Heavyweight Championship three times, and the ECW and ROH World Championships once each. By winning WWE's World Tag Team Championship (with Kofi Kingston) and Intercontinental Championship, he became WWE's 19th Triple Crown Champion and the fastest to achieve this feat (203 days). He was voted WWE Superstar of the Year at the 2011 Slammy Awards and Wrestler of the Year in 2011 and 2012 by readers of Pro Wrestling Illustrated.
Brooks has used the CM Punk moniker for his entire career, with his character consistently being portrayed as outspoken, confrontational, sharp-tongued, anti-establishment, straight edge, and iconoclastic. Most of the straight edge principles he portrayed are also his real life views. Depending on his alignment as a hero or villain, he emphasized different aspects of the straight edge culture to garner the desired audience reaction.
After becoming disillusioned with WWE, Punk retired from professional wrestling in early 2014. He pursued a career in mixed martial arts and was signed by the UFC in December 2014. His first professional fight took place in September 2016 at UFC 203 against Mickey Gall, where he was defeated via submission in the first round. He lost his second bout to Mike Jackson via unanimous decision in June 2018 at UFC 225.
In addition, Brooks has worked as an actor, appearing in the horror films Girl on the Third Floor and Rabid (both 2019), as well as lending his voice to the animated film The Flintstones & WWE: Stone Age SmackDown! (2015). He has also appeared as himself on several television shows, and most recently made regular appearances as an analyst on the Fox Sports 1 program WWE Backstage (2019–20).
CM Punk has been cited by several wrestlers as an inspiration or having influence on their careers. Seth Rollins stated that CM Punk's influence on the Chicago wrestling scene was responsible for him becoming a wrestler in the first place, while Adam Cole in an interview with Sports Illustrated said that "CM Punk has been a huge influence on me, especially on the independent scene." Australian wrestler Rhea Ripley mentioned Punk's verbal skills as something she aspired to be like, stating "As CM Punk. When he spoke, everyone listened".
Reporters, wrestlers, and fans alike, praise CM Punk's verbal skills, especially his in-ring promos. His 2011 "Pipebomb" promo has later beencited a both "historic" and very important professional wrestling promo. Punk is credited with being one of the first independent wrestlers to have success in WWE, which in turn the door for other independent wrestlers to both be signed and pushed in WWE. In 2020, Ring of Honor made an online poll that included several former ROH wrestlers in a vote-off tournament. Punk went to the final round, losing the final vote to Bryan Danielson.
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