My Two Centsss - CM Punk Didn't Walk Out On Us; He Walked Out FOR Us
By Super Chrisss
Jan 29, 2014 - 7:42:31 PM
(Tom Jenner is the man!)
For those of you who haven't been following my columns here on Lords of Pain for a very long time - or if you couldn't be bothered to remember - let me tell you something; CM Punk is my favourite wrestler. I've been watching wrestling for over twelve years now, and I've had my fair share of "guys" during that time period (#pause). From Stone Cold Steve Austin to John Cena to Tommy Dreamer to Zack Ryder (strange list, I must admit), there has always been someone for me to root for. Ever since his quest to become [WW]ECW Champion, CM Punk has been my favourite wrestler, easily. I have most of his t-shirts, I own his DVD, I even consider him the sole reason to tune into Raw and SmackDown even when everything else going on is unappealing.
But now, he's gone. Much like a top superstar named Steve Austin did in 2002, Punk "took his ball and went home". From what we know, hours before Raw went live last Monday, Punk informed WWE officials that he was going home and not coming back. Why? Only Punk and a handful of people know the real reason why, but there are several factors which could/would explain his sudden, unexpected, devastating departure.
The first (and most likely, in my opinion) is frustration with the product and the direction the company was headed. Punk was reportedly not pleased with Batista returning to the WWE four years after PG drove him away, and in his very first match back, guaranteed himself a world title match at Wrestlemania XXX. Other reports are saying that Punk wasn't happy about once again missing out on main-eventing Wrestlemania (an accolade which he should have already achieved, by the way) and a match with Triple H at the big event wouldn't suffice. Finally, others are saying Punk 'quit' because he's "tired and hurt".
Whatever the real reason(s) may be, the facts remain the same - CM Punk is GONE. Take a second to digest that. The second biggest star in the largest wrestling company on Earth might never step foot inside a WWE ring again. This isn't as ground-shattering as John Cena being forced into early retirement, but it's pretty damn close. CM Punk, love him or hate him, is a true main-eventer in an era where full-time main-eventers are hard to come by. That's a tough pill to swallow.
I know a lot of people are insisting - a.k.a.hoping - that this is all a 'work'. They feel there's no way it can be a coincidence that in the middle of an on-air struggle with The Authority, and the night after being screwed out of the Royal Rumble match by Director of Operations Kane, Punk would actually quit WWE for real. Well, to quote what may very well become my new favourite wrestler, I've got same bad news for you...it's not a work. If Punk's departure was storyline-driven, then they would have made mention of it on Raw, either in a promo, a backstage segment, or by the commentators. OR WWE would have posted the news on their website, Twitter, or Facebook. But they didn't. The show simply went on without CM Punk. Sorry, folks.
I've been reading a lot of people's comments on the situation, and there are a lot of mixed feelings floating around. Some are commending Punk for standing up for himself and guys who were pushed aside to make room for Batista. Others are calling him an ungrateful whiner. Many are calling him both. Which side of the fence do I stand on? Easy. I 100% support Punk's decision to walk away.
Maybe it's my favourite wrestler bias coming into play, but here me out. How would you feel if you worked at a job for seven-plus years, busted your ass week in and week out, all for the opportunity to get a glimpse at the golden key, only for your boss to hand it to his buddy instead? You don't get to keep that golden key, as it's available only one night a year, but you work your whole life just to get your hands on it. After receiving promotion after promotion, carrying the company when no one else would, you figure you're next in line for the key...when suddenly, a former co-worker decides to return after a four-year hiatus. That former employee just happens to be good friends with one of the key decision-makers, and despite being newly-returned, he's chosen to wield the key this year. Not you, not any of your fellow co-workers who have been working just as long as you have, but a former co-worker who's not qualified to touch the key (and truthfully, never really was).
That's my take on the Batista/Punk rumours. I really can't blame Punk for that line of thinking. There was no one on the current roster who deserved to win last Sunday's Royal Rumble more than Punk or Daniel Bryan. The former didn't make it to the final two; the latter wasn't even in the match! When WWE saw how the crowd reacted throughout the duration of Cena vs. Orton, and how the Daniel Bryan chants got louder and louder as the Rumble match went on, they should have called an audible and changed the winner from Batista to Punk or Bryan. As fellow LOP columnist and my radio co-host The Doc pointed out, for the second year in a row, WWE took the most predictable route and managed to screw up a nearly "un-fuck-up-able" event. I said it wouldn't happen, but WWE proved me wrong; as of last Sunday, the planned Wrestlemania XXX card was indeed Batista vs. Orton, Cena vs. Wyatt, Punk vs. HHH, and Sheamus vs. Bryan. Unbelievable.
But believe it or not, CM Punk may have inadvertently 'saved' Wrestlemania, or more specifically, saved Daniel Bryan. Before Punk left, the wheels were in motion for Punk to face Kane at Elimination Chamber, which would be the final step before Punk vs. Triple H at Wrestlemania. Daniel Bryan may have been placed inside the Elimination Chamber match, but not to win it - it was more likely supposed to be a launching pad for Bryan vs. Sheamus at Wrestlemania (rolls eyes). Now, with Punk out the door, this leaves Triple H free to wrestle the man many thought he was supposed to face since SummerSlam - Daniel Bryan. I honestly believe that despite the non-stop chanting from the live crowds, WWE would have still went with Sheamus vs. Bryan at Wrestlemania, judged by the stubbornness on display at the Royal Rumble.
A huge Punk fan such as myself is none too pleased with the fact that he's no longer with the company. As I mentioned earlier, Punk was often the only reason I bothered to tune into WWE programming at certain times of the year. While most of the roster and every member of WWE creative were on cruise control, Punk was still giving 100% and making us care about what he was doing (recent example: his feud with Paul Heyman and Heyman's "guys"). However, I am mature enough to look at the bigger picture and try to figure out why he left the way he did. Punk didn't just leave because he wasn't getting what he wanted. He didn't leave because he was tired and wanted to go home, cheer on the Chicago Blackhawks and fuck Aj Lee (although that would have been good enough reason for me!). I think he left because he wanted change.
One of the infamous quotes from Punk's spectacular DVD was, "I certainly can't change [this place] from my couch in Chicago". That's from a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, sticking - and re-signing with WWE back in late 2011 - didn't inspire too much change among those calling the shots. Sure, there has been a lot more emphasis on 'indy guys' like Punk, Bryan, Antonio Cesaro, Dean Ambrose, and Seth Rollins, but for the past two years in a row, we have been on some of the most predictable Roads to Wrestlemania in recent memory. By the way, I know a lot can happen between now and March - especially with Punk leaving - but WWE seems hell-bent on doing Batista vs. Orton for the world title which would just...suck. I'd almost rather see another match between Cena and The Rock than sit through a Batista/Orton train-wreck.
But maybe, just maybe, Punk saying "screw you" to WWE officials will be the wake-up call they desperately need to step back and re-evaluate their product. With an Elimination Chamber where the world title will be defended on the horizon, there is plenty of time to change course. Hell, they could even have Batista defend his Wrestlemania match against Brock Lesnar at the Pay-Per-View. This isn't the Superbowl or the Stanley Cup Finals - WWE can completely re-write their biggest show of the year without much effort, especially since it's still far away. If they can scrap the Survivor Series 2012 card two weeks before the PPV, then I don't see how they would be unable to reshuffle the planned Wrestlemania card, considering it's still two months away. Punk leaving could force WWE to consider whether it's a good idea to put guys like Batista and Brock Lesnar in brighter spotlights than someone like Daniel Bryan or Dolph Ziggler.
Furthermore, one of the main reasons why I support Punk's decision is because of the way he left. Call it unprofessional all you want, but WWE needed that slap in the face. They're now stuck with the harsh reality that the guys they've been pushing hard during Wrestlemania season for the past few years - Lesnar, Undertaker, and now Batista - won't be at every Raw, Smackdown, and live event, and neither will one of their top, drawing stars. Suddenly, the playing field is wide open for someone to step up and fill that missing void. With Wrestlemania season officially underway, WWE will take a step back, look at their list of full-time talents, and say, "Uh-oh. We're in trouble". How many SmackDowns or house shows did CM Punk headline - or even carry - in 2013? Obviously, the show will still go on, but it will feel extremely weird not having Punk around.
It's easy to put the blame on Punk for acting irrationally and leaving the way he did, but I think he left more for us than he did for him. Do I think he'll be back someday? Absolutely, but not until he feels things have changed, and for the better. He's not in it for the money, as he could have easily stuck it out long enough to collect that sweet Wrestlemania bonus; Punk wrestles because he loves what he does. For that, he will always have my respect. You can make fun of him and call him a hypocrite for leaving much like Stone Cold, Brock Lesnar, and even Batista did, but Punk left for selfless reasons. If one of those reasons includes being pissed about not being in the Wrestlemania main-event again this year, you can call him selfish, but he's still right - he deserves/deserved that spot. Certainly not Batista.
This is a constantly developing story that may end with CM Punk back inside a WWE ring sooner than we can say "Wrestlemania", or it may not. Whatever does happen, I will gladly say, "Thank you, CM Punk". I hope this time, your voice won't fall on deaf ears.
Your Two Centsss: Are you on #TeamPunk? Why or why not?
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