The Surprising Reason CM Punk Joined The Cast Of Heels

Heels, the new pro wrestling series on Starz, is full of in-ring action. What you won’t see an overabundance of, though, is well-known professional wrestlers. In fact, only two, one of which is CM Punk, have been announced for Season 1 at this point. And while star Stephen Amell has a strong connection to the wrestling world, having previously performed for WWE and at All In, he was not the person who brought in the former WWE Champion.

Instead, that honor goes to series creator Michael Waldron. In fact, as Waldron explained to GameSpot, Punk (real name Phil Brooks) was considered for a role on Heels before Amell was even cast.

“We had talked to Punk for the first [version of] the show back in 2017 about getting involved,” Waldron recalled. “And he and I just stayed in touch. He was getting started in his acting career. And I had gotten to know him well enough to know that what defines Phil Brooks is his work ethic. The guy is just such a hard worker. And if he’s going to be an actor, he’s gonna figure out how to be the best in the world.”

When the call came to play an independent wrestler named Ricky Rabies, whose gimmick is that of a rabid animal, he didn’t hesitate to sign on. “He had done some acting between the two iterations of our show and this opportunity came up and his name came up, it was just a no-brainer,” Waldron said. “I reached out to him and he was game. We’re so lucky to have him. I think he absolutely represents the sweet spot of the kind of guy that you want to see become part of this world as an actor.”

That said, while both Punk and WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley guest-starred in the first season of Heels, the producers are wary of casting too many well-known faces from the wrestling world. “Certainly you can overload with cameos and it can get distracting and everything and that’ll be on us to walk that line in and figure out when is it better for a wrestler to play themselves,” Waldron said. “When does that enhance the world?”

Still, if the few cameos the show does have are similar to casting Punk as a Southern wrestler wearing animal fur, it should be pretty entertaining.

Heels airs Sundays on Starz.