Sports Writer, and life-long Wrestling fan, Matt McConnell reports on the recent interview between CM Punk and Colt Cabana, in which we found out the truth behind his WWE departure. You can hear the entire story at the following link…
Arguably, CM Punk has been the most controversial WWE superstar of the modern era, and that came to heed with his sudden walk-out from the flagship wrestling brand in January this year. For months, fans have been complacent with the lack of explanation behind his disappearance, followers of Punk like myself were confused as to whether this was simply part of a story, a planned rehab break or his official release from the company. But almost a year later, Punk appeared on the ‘Art of Wrestling’ podcast with long-time friend and independent Wrestler Colt Cabana and revealed all behind his departure.
It’s been well documented that CM Punk has never been treated as well as he would have hoped by WWE, believing that he belonged in the main event and that he was held back by mediocre booking and lack of creative direction. It was only until his infamous ‘pipe bomb’ promo during his now revered rivalry with John Cena back in 2011, which shot him into the spotlight and provided him with the popularity and significance he craved. Some would consider it egoistical of him, but he himself admits that he was never the nicest or easiest to work with, yet as history has proven, he was worthy of selling shows, merchandise and Wrestlemania main events. Although a year or so after, he found himself once again being pushed aside and abused by the CEO Vince McMahon and the creative team.
Punk stated in that interview the following:
“I’m talking to Vince, and I tell him that since I cut that promo, we got more mainstream attention. Everyone wanted to interview me, whether it was GQ Magazine, the cover of USA Today … I had legitimate companies approaching me, just wanting to give me money to sponsor me. I had a big money deal on the table, and I went to Vince … I told him my idea, said I wanted to do this sponsorship thing. I deserved it. I got all these new eyes on the product, and he says ‘nope, you can’t do that. Sponsors for Raw would get mad, the other wrestlers would get mad.’ A year later, Brock Lesnar comes back, and the mother-f***** has sponsors.”Phil Brooks
If you take the time to study Punk during his final few months with the company, it was evident that he wasn’t truly giving it his all as much as he once did. Perhaps it was because he didn’t need to prove himself anymore? Perhaps it was because the crowds weren’t exactly going crazy for him like they once did? Or maybe it’s due to his state of health. During the interview he explains to Cabana a list of injuries that piled on top of another, and really affected his in-ring work. Not only was he forced to participate in their annual tours of Europe in November of 2013 whilst combatting a serious illness, but he pointed out other Wresters that constantly caused him injury throughout the year, one in particular… Ryback.
Ryback apparently caused massive physical damage to Punk. He describes his rival as a careless, ‘steroid guy’, who at one point kicked him so hard, that he broke several ribs. Punk later described these injuries as “taking at least 20 years off my life”. Despite this obvious need for surgery, he was demanded to compete more frequently with little notice with complete disregard for any notes from Punk’s doctors and health advisors.
Furthermore, during his final WWE appearance at the Royal Rumble this year, Punk was wrestling with a severe concussion throughout the match. This was obviously the last straw for the wrestler. He completed both a concussion, a drugs test and re-submission of his visas for future European Tours the next day and was later asked to run the ropes and ‘tough out’ his injuries. Shortly after, Punk let loose on Vince and Triple H, making them aware of his displeasure to work after the ways he had been treated. He also criticised the way they treat other rising stars such as Daniel Bryan, who at the time was held back from the main event of Wrestlemania in favour of Batista.
In his own words:
“I looked Vince in the eye and I said, ‘I do not love this anymore. I’m f—– sick, I’m f—— hurt, I’m f—— confused, I don’t know as a business what we’re doing anymore. Every day you tell me it’s a team effort, but every day it’s an individual effort by me to find what’s necessary to even f-n come here. It’s not fun. I have zero passion for this. I’m concussed, I’m hurt, and alls you care about is what segment I’m in and how soon I can get my gear on and how soon I can pee in this cup and I don’t want to do it anymore.”Phil Brooks
“You have shackled me, you have creatively stifled me, you have made this a very toxic environment, I no longer want to be here. It boggles my mind how Daniel Bryan has not figured into your plans to be in the main event of WrestleMania because this is his year. Just like two years ago when it was my year and I was white f—– hot, just like he is now, and what did you do? You fed me to this guy.’ And I pointed to right at Hunter. Vince was like, ‘This is the concussion talking. I can’t believe you’re saying any of this’.”Phil Brooks
This neatly brings in his issues with booking. The initial rumours that circulated after his exit was that Punk was unhappy with his placement on the card for Wrestlemania 30. The Royal Rumble Match suggested that he was to be placed in a rivalry against Triple H, Kane and the Authority, however Punk found this insulting to his prestige, demanding the main event, and if it weren’t to be him then it should be someone that equally deserves it. WWE Creative have never really been flexible with their main event, especially for ‘Mania’, so it’s no surprise that it took Punk’s outburst to force them into considering Daniel Bryan for the main event, let alone the championship itself.
“Hunter told me I was in the main event because I wrestled The Undertaker,”Phil Brooks
“I turned to him and said, ‘Tell me I got paid the same amount of money as you, Brock, Cena, Rock, or whoever.’ And once again, he had nothing to say. I was like, ‘I’m out of here.’ Vince, with tears in his eyes, went in for a hug, and it was like a reluctant patting on the back, then I looked at Hunter and he stuck his hand out and I shook his hand. I said, ‘Goodbye,’ and I walked out.”Phil Brooks
There are debates for both sides, even though I am a die-hard CM Punk fan it isn’t hard to see that his ego may have gotten ahead of him, continuing to be a difficult employee in terms of being given an inch and taking a mile. However WWE have blatantly abused Punk, overworking him to the extent of degrading his physical and mental wellbeing. It’s safe to say that for the foreseeable future Punk will not be returning to the WWE, nor any other brand in the industry as he has now been quoted to “despise Wrestling”.
But to end this article on an optimistic note, I believe we’ll be seeing Punk again in the WWE, if the likes of Warrior, Bret Hart and Bruno Sammartino can ‘bury the hatchet’ then I expect he can too, but hopefully the fans will learn to let him go until then. In the meantime I wish Punk the very best for the future, especially with his recently announced involvement with Marvel Comics.