If you're a pro wrestling fan that has been cut off from all communication for the past week then you missed a hell of a lot. The backlash of the Royal Rumble set the internet on fire as many, much like the live crowd, were irate at the idea of Batista returning after a four year absence and waltzing into the main event at Wrestlemania 30. The lack of a Daniel Bryan appearance in the Rumble only increased the fans’ hostility causing WWE to do massive re-writes the next day before Monday Night Raw. The show was very Daniel Bryan heavy and as the three hour show concluded there was a very clear omission during the broadcast. CM Punk was nowhere to be seen.
I’ll be the first to admit that while I noticed Punk’s absence I didn’t put too much into it as the last time we saw him during the Rumble match he was getting chokeslammed through a table by Kane. I figured he may come out and drop another pipe bomb on The Authority and talk about being screwed out of the main event of Wrestlemania because of Kane but when he didn’t show up I just assumed it may be part of a storyline arc. I woke up the next day and saw that the pro wrestling dirt sheets had exploded over night with reports that CM Punk quit WWE, told Vince McMahon he was going home and was removed from all future WWE events. My first instinct was to just assume it was a storyline but the more I read, the more depressed I got. Did the “Best in the World” really quit WWE? Yes, it appears so.
There’s been no secret that CM Punk has clashed with WWE officials in the past. He was so unhappy in 2011 that he had every intention to quit the company when he was given a microphone and told to air his grievances with the company.
He delivered one of the greatest shoot promos of all time and made himself the anti-Cena aka the hero of the older wrestling demographic. He ended up defeating John Cena in front of the raucous hometown crowd in Chicago for the WWE Championship and supposedly walked out on the WWE that night. In reality, he signed a contract extension and his departure was only temporary and completely storyline driven. Fast forward to last Monday and the tone is noticeably different.
For one, the drama went unannounced on Raw and didn’t appear on WWE.com, normally a sure fire way to know whether something is a storyline or not. Second, the dirt sheets picked up on it and were fully convinced that this was indeed legit. Third, neither CM Punk nor WWE have made any public comments or even acknowledged the story. Fourth, the WWE Events page has removed Punk from any and all appearances on Raw, Smackdown, house shows or pay-per-views. On top of that the official WWE Twitter page has unfollowed CM Punk, which may not seem like a big deal except for the fact that they follow EVERY current and former WWE Superstar, even JTG and Alex Riley get followed by them.
All we have so far is speculation as far as what could have caused CM Punk’s departure. Most seem to think it’s due to the way WWE was handling his character and taking him out of the title picture in favor of a rivalry against Triple H and The Authority. According to reports, Triple H was his destined opponent at Wrestlemania. A high profile match to be sure, but nothing that would sniff the main event slot. If you’ve followed Punk’s career you know that his long time goal was to headline Wrestlemania and if you’ve followed his career you know that he hasn’t headlined the event at all, instead taking a back seat to the likes of part timers like The Rock to The Miz (?) and John Cena. That looked to be the plan again as Batista earned a main event slot at the Royal Rumble. One can’t blame him for being irritated when he and the rest of the full time roster bust themselves for ten months a year only to have their spots taken by part time guys on the biggest stage of the year whose stay in the WWE will be brief once Wrestlemania concludes.
Another report stems from an interview he did with an MMA website (fast forward to 3:11 in the video below) where he divulged that his contract with WWE is legitimately up in July of this year and that contract talks were “up in the air” and that he was feeling burnt out from the grind of the hellacious WWE travel schedule. Punk has certainly been one of the main workhorses for WWE the past few years, often filling in for other injured Superstars. He also expressed his frustration with WWE for not planning out storylines long term as well as not listening to the fans over guys like Daniel Bryan.
It could be a number of things that forced Punk to walk out; we just don’t know for sure what those reasons are. Some seem to think that this may be a part of the most elaborate work in WWE history. In the same MMA interview he revealed that he and Vince McMahon are “late night text buddies” because neither of them sleeps much and he often picks Vince’s brain. This leads some to believe that this whole thing is purely a work between Punk and Vince and they have left everyone else in the dark about it. What better way to blur reality and fiction then to do it over social media? Like with his 2011 pipe bomb promo Punk is no stranger to blurring the lines, neither is Vince for that matter.
Personally, I hope it’s all an elaborate work and we’ll look back at this as one of the greatest fake outs in pro wrestling history. If it is true that CM Punk has legitimately quit WWE then WWE has some serious problems on their hands in their most important time of the year. Not only is the Road to Wrestlemania in full gear but the launch of the WWE Network in a matter of weeks signals one of the most important stretches in the history of professional wrestling. Having the live crowd and social media backlash that ended the Royal Rumble and now having one of your most popular wrestlers walk out on the company has certainly not been the way WWE envisioned 2014 starting out.
The coming weeks will be very telling in the CM Punk drama. Does WWE ever address it on TV? Does CM Punk make any public comments? How will WWE handle the live crowds, specifically the one on March 3rd in CM Punk’s hometown of Chicago if he isn’t back by then? From reports on house shows and NXT tapings in Florida it appears that the cat is out of the bag and the crowds have hijacked the shows with CM Punk chants. One has to hope that WWE and CM Punk can reconcile their differences and resolve everything in a timely manner while also working on a contract extension. I can’t imagine that WWE or Punk want to have this be the final chapter of their relationship. The fans certainly don’t. When and if, he returns the ‘Best in the World’ will have a lot on his mind and a ton to get off of his chest. Until then, it appears we’ll be without our pipe bombs, our Cult of Personality and our anti-Cena for the foreseeable future.
Follow me on Twitter @MarcDykton
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