The biggest wrestling news story of the week has been C.M. Punk’s shocking departure from WWE. Apparently, he walked up to WWE Chairman Vince McMahon prior to the start of Monday Night Raw and informed him that he was going home. His decision caused the creative team to rewrite the entire show.
According to numerous sources, Punk’s departure came as no real surprise to those that worked with him closely. He even hinted at his contractual status in a recent interview with MMA reporter Ariel Helwani. One of his main reasons for leaving that has gotten the most play in the media is his frustration with non full-time performers returning to headline WrestleMania, specifically citing Dwayne “Rock” Johnson.
When the news about Punk first broke I commended him for sticking it to the powers that be. After having the entire week to digest the information and look at it from multiple angles, I have come to the conclusion that I made an error in judgment.
No matter how you spin it, Punk walked out on the company that made him a star. Regardless of how much Punk would like to portray himself as a rebel and self-made man, it’s the WWE machine that made him into one of the most popular wrestlers in the world. It was that same company that allowed him to hold onto their most prestigious championship for 434 consecutive days. Let’s not forget they also allowed him to wrestle numerous television main events on Raw and Smackdown while having some of the most remembered PPV bouts in recent years against the likes of Undertaker, Chris Jericho, John Cena and Brock Lesnar.
Contrary to the popular opinion of some fans, wrestling is still a business. Booking decisions, nonetheless the decision as to who will headline WrestleMania, aren’t made based on the whims of a small subset of the fanbase.
There is a clear reason why Rock headlined the last two WrestleManias—he makes the company money, lots of it. Those two WrestleManias were among the highest-grossing WWE events of all time. Rock can’t help that he’s one of the most charismatic wrestlers of the last quarter century. He certainly can’t help that fans will pay their hard earned money to see him.
One may bring up Daniel Bryan as an exception to the rule, which is a point I agree with. Bryan has gotten thunderous ovations at the vast majority of WWE shows for the last several months. If there is any member of the current full-time roster that deserves a main event spot then he’s the one. Last I checked, the lack of a C.M. Punk appearance on a particular PPV did not cause an entire arena to enter into a collective frenzy.
It’s no secret that WWE Hall of Famer Steve Austin is a close friend of Punk. If Austin was medically cleared to compete at WrestleMania, would Punk think he deserves to headline?
I could only hope so.
The one great thing to come out of this scenario is that it now appears that Bryan will take Punk’s spot in his match against Triple H at WrestleMania 30. I always thought that a Bryan vs. Triple H program made more sense that Punk vs. Triple H.
I can relate to Punk being frustrated, but that is not justification for walking out on the company during such a critical period. His actions were unprofessional and showed that he was never a true team player. At the very least he should have waited until his contract expired. The mental anguish of being a top guy and working a major WrestleMania program against Triple H was too much to bear.
In the old days, a wrestler would wrap up all of their booking commitments before heading to a new territory. I guess Punk has attained such a level of wrestling immortality that traditional rules do not apply to him. By leaving in such a manner, Punk showed the entire world that he considers himself much bigger than the business.