Like many of you I was surprised after reading of CM Punk’s departure from the WWE. There was no news prior of Punk’s contract running out, so no fan could have anticipated the decision to pull out of that Monday’s episode of RAW. Punk made the choice apparently after speaking to Vince and with just half an hour before RAW was to go on the air. As a result, not only did they have to rewrite that episode of RAW to make up for Punk’s absence, but there’s a hole in the Wrestlemania XXX card where a match between Punk and Triple H was to take place. Various fans have suggested that Punk acted selfishly, abandoning the company before two huge events – the launch of the WWE Network and this year’s Wrestlemania – and even WWE legends have weighed in on the matter. Stone Cold Steve Austin on the Arsenio Hall show claimed that it was poor timing with Wrestlemania coming along, but focused more on the economic aspect of Punk’s departure from the company. As some might recall, Austin walked out on the WWE after being told that he had to job (lose to) Brock Lesnar, so hes speaking from experience. On the surface, Punk’s decision seems to parallel with the reaction fans have had to WWE’s booking since the Royal Rumble event. Fans were disappointed that another fan favorite, Daniel Bryan, was not booked to compete in the Royal Rumble match. Instead, the returning Dave Batista won the match, taking the coveted #30 spot and securing a place for himself in the main event of Wrestlemania. However, Daniel Bryan seems to have played a much larger role in Punk’s absence than previously thought. Wrestlers have writen into dirt sheet site F4WOnline.com and are trying to inform fans of the current inner machinations of the company following a tumultuous post-ppv period. One wrestler, who chose to remain anonymous, concludes that Punk has been jealous of the attention placed on Daniel Bryan.
I really and fully believe he’s a little jealous of the crowd reactions to Bryan and it’s getting to him—He’s just been such a dick lately [...] Punk really doesn’t want to be the face of the company. That’s BS. I hate hearing that s–t. He says he does but this isn’t ROH or OVW. He would b—h so much if he had to do Michael & Kelly at 9 a.m., then fly to a different state (for Raw), do a Make-A-Wish at 1 p.m. and then RAW, then do SmackDown, then do something Wednesday to fly home Thursday to be on the road Friday or Saturday. No way he could handle that for four months. He may come back as soon as Monday or he may never come back, but if never comes back he better remember how many fans he’s f–king over right now, the same way he believes the WWE is f–king him over.
-Excerpt from anonymous wrestler’s letter
In other parts of the letter, which you can read here, its apparent that Punk has been difficult to work with following the AJ incident at Tribute to the Troops. Its my impression, following this report and many others of the same, that CM Punk is a wearisome person to deal with backstage. Had Vince not been to fond of him in the first place (they text in the middle of the night because they’re both insomniacs), he would be gone from the company. Sure, the WWE locker room hasn’t always been the most harmonious place in sports or entertainment, but it seems like superstars are united in making Wrestlemania XXX a success despite of the circumstances. His stubbornness seems to be a huge setback in the decision making process within the WWE. Remember, this is the man who demanded to be immediately elevated to the world title picture following a lackluster rivalry with Randy Orton and felt entitled to sit on the stage and insult the company he works for because he didn’t want to sign away the rights to his name. Meanwhile, John Cena’s actual name, which is the same as his ring name, is owned by the WWE. Thats the kind of dedication that warrants the amount of praise Cena receives, regardless of how stale his character is. Cena is willing to wake up early in the morning to do talk shows and meet with sick kids. Is CM Punk a team player? How does walking out on your co-workers before the big meeting sound like to you? While I’ll miss his athletic ability, I’m not particularly sad to see Punk go. Teamwork has always been a huge part of wrestling culture, both on camera and backstage. Hazing was even used to keep wrestlers on the company’s side if the fans ever rioted (at least according to JBL’s account of why he hazed Miz). A man with Punk’s ego wouldn’t make the sacrifices that the face of the company has to make. Steve Austin agrees that “taking his ball and going home” was a selfish and terrible decision, I doubt Punk will ever look at things the same way, probably not anytime soon I predict. Is there a bit of jealousy when it comes to Daniel Bryan’s success within the WWE, even though CM Punk reached heights no other wrestler – including Bryan – has reached? You bet. At the end of the day, CM Punk isn’t hurting the WWE, which is slated to have a multitude of WWE favorites, including The Undertaker, on its February 24 edition of RAW to commemorate the launch of the WWE Network and weeks later will celebrate 30 years of the company’s most successful business venture, Wrestlemania. No, he hurts the very fans who wanted him to be a part of those historic events. He hurts the ones who buy tickets, even after poor ppvs like this years Royal Rumble, just to see him compete. He hurt everyone, man woman and child, that has worn a “Best in the World” t-shirt because they truly felt that Punk was going to take the company to new heights. That’s a wish Punk is more than able to fulfill, but is he willing to share the spotlight with someone else who has worked just as hard, and is just as good as he is?
(cover photo licensed under cc-by-2.0 and is attributed to Flickr user Schen).