Let the ranting and raving begin.
At some point last night, news broke that CM Punk wasn’t just off from Monday Night Raw this past week – he actually walked out of the company. Punk told people he was “going home” or some other such nonsense. And he left WWE. Done.
We don’t know the real story here, or what finally pushed Punk over the edge enough to just walk-out before Raw. What we do know is that he’s been pulled from all upcoming advertising. This includes house shows, Elimination Chamber, and even the grandaddy of ‘em all, Wrestlemania, where he was penciled in going one-on-one with Triple H. CM Punk also revealed late last week that his contract was signaled to end this coming Summer, and that negotiations hadn’t even started.
And maybe the rumor mills are wrong. Maybe Punk didn’t actually walk-out, or maybe there’s more here than we’re privy to. Hell, maybe those conspiracy theorist who still believe this is all part of some grander storyline (involving Bryan, McMahon, and a higher power?) will get the last laugh.
But if the wrestling media is right? If Punk literally “took his ball and went home”? Then this a dark day for professional wrestling.
‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin often discusses how his two biggest regrets throughout his entire career were: the night he turned heel and joined Vince McMahon (a creative misfire), and the night he walked out before Raw, when he was scheduled to lose against a young upstart named Brock Lesnar (a personal misfire). Austin has gone on record as saying he should’ve stuck around that night and worked out whatever differences existed. He should have manned-up and fulfilled his contractual obligations. The quote he always uses is, “you can’t see the forest through the trees.”
Let’s put this in perspective: CM Punk walking out NOW is like Peyton Manning walking out on the Broncos at the beginning of the playoffs.
— Michael A. Wiseman (@therealwiseman) January 29, 2014
When CM Punk first used the moniker, “Best in the World,” people finally bought in because he really is the best at what he does. He’s the best talker in the biz today. He’s (arguably) the best in-ring tactician. He’s one of the few guys that seems relatable, a real average joe.
I myself have publicly confessed numerous times to being a huge CM Punk mark. I only own TWO wrestling t-shirts – both CM Punk. The only WWE Documentary sitting on my shelf right now is “The Best in the World.” And while I love most of Mattel’s WWE action figure lineup, CM Punk (Nexus-variant) is the one figure I keep in the box. But it pains me as a fan to know that, if rumors are true, then he turned his back on me. He turned his back on all of his fans. He turned his back on the people that helped make him, the people that supported him whenever WWE was too gun-shy to pull the trigger, or when the company seemed hesitant to keep him in the main-event picture. CM Punk has always been a huge superstar because of his fans.
But this undoes a lot of that good will. While CM Punk earned every success in his career, his fans helped him get there. We ALL shared a part in making the infamous “Pipe-Bomb Promo” a keynote in WWE history. And then, in demanding that CM Punk be kept around the main-event picture long enough for a historic 434 day title-reign.
And to WWE’s credit, they accommodated Punk in many ways. He got time off after ‘Mania last year. His matches at ‘Mania and Summerslam, the two biggest shows of the year, were headliners. Even the Royal Rumble this past Sunday saw Punk go from entry number one to being one of the final-four. WWE was in no way misusing the “Best in the World.” And even if he was trying to stand up for Daniel Bryan, or protest Batista… so what? Leaving doesn’t change the machine.
So if he left due to injuries, I’ll cut him a little slack. He still should’ve stayed long enough to address the fans. If he left due to personal issues (death in the family? something worse?), I might could understand Punk telling Vince McMahon, and the entire WWE Universe, to shove it. Maybe.
But if CM Punk walked out on WWE over creative differences, or future pay-per-view paydays, then this is a major blemish on his legacy. One he won’t live down anytime soon. Just go ask Steve Austin.
How do you feel about the CM Punk situation? Are you still upset, or do you think he did the right thing? Let your voice be heard in the comments below. Or tell me on Twitter, @therealwiseman.