CM Punk: The Best in the World or…

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CM Punk has made more news this week. Unfortunately, he seems to have made it not inside the ring, but outside. It’s been widely reported now (as I’m writing this it is Friday) that Punk has proverbially taken his ball and gone home. Reports speculate wildly that Punk was upset with his direction leading into WrestleMania, or that his health isn’t in the best of shape, or that he simply doesn’t have his heart within the squared circle anymore. Before my own speculation begins, let’s revisit an interview Punk did that was released just a week ago.

Some key things to take away from the interview are how he seemed discontent with WWE, and how standoffish he was when he was asked certain questions. He seemed to stop just short of answering the question – seemingly being political rather than stating his true opinion on some matters. That is not to say that he wasn’t entirely open. He was. Just some answers he held back on.

A few nuggets that was let out was he and Vince have a very tight relationship. So tight that he and Vince are texting buddies late at night (4AM was the quote). Remember that as I get to my own thoughts on the matter. Also somewhat noteworthy is his fleeting interest in MMA.

Then, on 1/29, after Punk had left RAW, a YouTube video surfaced from 1/24 at the Portland Comic Con. Put out under the handle, Ryan Stefan, the video is an edited piece with comments taken during his Q&A session. Running at 5 minutes in length, the piece covers:

 From Rajah.com:

As previously reported, CM Punk held a Q&A session at the Wizard World “Portland Comic Con” event on Friday. Since the news broke that CM Punk has quit WWE, several fans who were in attendance sent in their recaps of Punk’s Q&A. Here are the highlights:

– Punk said he doesn’t think Sting should come to WWE because he doesn’t have “anything left in the tank.” He thinks Sting would take another spot away from WWE’s younger superstars who are trying to make it to the main event level.

– Punk said Batista is his friend, but he doesn’t feel the time is right for him to return, for the same reason Sting shouldn’t be brought in. Punk said it’s Daniel Bryan’s time and Bryan should be in the main event of WrestleMania.

– He has been frustrated with WWE’s direction for a while and feels that the writers aren’t in touch with what fans want.

– He has been saving a lot of money and he would be fine if he wasn’t receiving a paycheck from WWE anymore.

– He’s entertained the idea of fighting for UFC, but he doesn’t know if his body could handle it at this time.

– Punk said his health has been bad for months, especially September through November of last year. He’s had weekly MRI’s and blood work done, but doctors can’t figure out what’s wrong. He started eating meat again and is starting to feel better, but isn’t close to 100%.

Here’s the video that has some of the points that the Rajah article covered.

Now, everyone “knows” that CM Punk left RAW around 7:30PM after having a meeting with Vince McMahon. Apparently, this forced a rewrite of the show, and the Alberto Del Rio and Kofi Kingston match was lengthened to cover for a promo that Punk was to deliver. There are varying reports that Punk had a “heated exchange” over some medical tests (including a concussion test). Somewhere in the midst of all this, Punk seemingly walked out, went home, and both parties have been quiet on the situation.

What we do know and recognize is that CM Punk is one of the biggest stars WWE currently contracts. He gives his all in the ring night in and night out and has delivered some memorable moments both in the ring and on the mic. For a while, after his infamous worked shoot before MITB 2011, he was the hottest star in WWE. He carried that momentum into the following year with a long (by today’s standards) WWE title reign that lasted 434 days before losing the title at the 2013 Royal Rumble to the returning Rock.

Punk went on to have what some have called the 2013 Match of the Year at WrestleMania against Undertaker. Rock went on to lose the title to John Cena at WrestleMania where a torch was supposedly passed from Rock to Cena. Cena had an uninspired reign ending with Daniel Bryan’s surprising win against Cena at Summerslam – starting Bryan’s current angle he’s been mired in since.

After WrestleMania 29, Punk was inserted in a feud with Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman, Ryback, and the Shield. He’s been out of the title picture, and the main event for some time as Bryan continued his rise to the top. Perhaps Punk was dissatisfied with the Heyman angle. Or, perhaps continuing a flat angle with Ryback. Whatever the case is, the latter part has seen Punk kind of phoning it in.

Punk has always been a moody sort of fella. That is certainly unquestioned. He’s stated more than once that he’s saved his money and would be fine without the paycheck that WWE provides. He is reportedly under contract until July of this year – however, perhaps he has completed the terms of his contract. Maybe in the past 2 and a half years he has worked enough dates, etc. Very few, if any, know the terms of his contract. Reportedly, we know the length. There could be a buy out option. Who can say for sure? It will be interesting to see if WWE does go the legal route with Punk if he broke his contract.

All that said, there’s still a nagging feeling that this could all be some type of worked shoot. The Helwani interview has been done the previous two years. Punk, always a master marketer, could use this interview that he knew would be seen to his advantage. The YouTube video put up by the mysterious Stefan is just centered too nicely and edited just right for me to think that it wasn’t meant to be seen. Furthermore, having been to Wizard World sponsored events in the past, just try setting up a camera on a tripod down one of the walkways and see what happens for yourself. Maybe I’m wrong in my speculation, but do recall Punk did this before after his contract “expired” in 2011 at San Diego ComicCons. Recall he interrupted a panel that Triple H was on?

To sum it all up, who can say whether this is another worked storyline within an industry that lives on worked storylines. Given Punk’s past worked shoots, it certainly isn’t outside the realm of reason to think objectively that he had a discussion with McMahon, they agreed to this angle, and are letting it ride out as the internet speculates (and a few mainstream media outlets). The eyes are certainly looking at this story and watching how it develops. If it is a work, it has been masterfully done.

However, it is also just as likely that Punk is upset and has walked out on the company who did a great deal to build and promote him. If that’s the case, I can sympathize with the decision, but I do not really agree with it. Fans are upset that he may not be coming back anytime soon. WWE has had to do rewrites in what is a very hectic time of year for them. Yet, WWE is a machine that will continue to run with or without Punk. Sheamus has already replaced Punk on this weekend’s House Shows. The Mania match that Punk reportedly had lined up with Triple H has been changed to Daniel Bryan. WWE will go on.

Yet, it seems that once Punk has made the decision to leave, he will. I think he’s a quiet guy and after 17 years of doing this at such a level he is mentally and physically drained. He likely needs the time to refresh and recharge. Once he has done so, then maybe he’ll return.

Or, perhaps the 2014 Royal Rumble is the last time we will have seen “The Best in the World”.

You can follow Dean on twitter @folsomcounty.
Dean is also the host of HIAC Talk Radio LIVE every Wednesday Night at 9PM EST

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