Two time Money In The Bank winner. The longest World Championship title reign in modern history. A man considered enough of a star to go up against The Streak at last year’s WrestleMania. A man whose proposed Mania match this year would have seen him go up against the de facto “boss” of the on-screen company.
These are hardly the accolades of a man who hasn’t been pushed by the company he works for are they?
And yet, if we are to believe the stories, these successes were not enough to keep CM Punk in the WWE. And as much as I am a fan of CM Punk the wrestler, they are part of the reason why I cannot get behind or join the clamour for his immediate return. I refuse to fall into the trap of making Punk a martyr for the ills of the modern WWE product.
Punk was not an underutilised star, never getting the chance to show his true worth. On the full-time roster his profile was second only to that of John Cena and we all know that Cena was going nowhere from his spot. Even if you take the return of Batista to WrestleMania main event level as being a kick in the teeth to the likes of Punk, who worked day in and day out, there would be more than a little hypocrisy in railing against that when Punk was quite happy to work a program with The Rock and also to defend the WWE Title against part-timer Chris Jericho at WrestleMania 28.
Now you might look at the situation and praise Punk for having the balls to stand up to his employers. There’s something brave and righteous about walking away from a multi-million dollar job regardless of the reasons. Even more so if it’s because you don’t feel you are being treated correctly. And yet the more I consider it, the less inclined I am to “side” with Punk.
To me it smacks of an attempt to preserve his worth rather than anything more holistic about the direction of the company he worked for. He was offered time off, but refused to shoot an angle to explain it. His contract runs out in the summer and so is it really beyond the scope of reason, given what we are led to believe anyway, that he could have worked out his contract (including time off for recuperation) and left with his head held high once his deal was up? Or maybe that would have lessened his money-making appeal.
All things considered, CM Punk appears to have walked out because he didn’t consider plans for him to his liking. If you believed his promo’s from a few years ago where Punk was adamant that he wanted to “change” the WWE from within it appears that you were simply sold on a wrestling angle that was never true. Punk was only ever looking out for number one. And whilst I acknowledge that there is absolutely nothing wrong with anyone, in any walk of business, taking that attitude I also believe it means I don’t have to fall for the martyrdom that some are attempting to place on his shoulders.
And one final point. Imagine you are in charge of a billion dollar company. A worker you have invested time and money in, and given opportunities to that most of your workforce would kill for, suddenly decides to walk out a few months before your biggest event of the year. An event that you had big plans for him at, including the opportunity to work hand in hand with one of the bosses. He declines and furthermore refuses to even allow for an explanation or cover story for his departure to be publicised. Given that allowing him to waltz back into the company a few weeks later not only without punishment but with all his demands met would set a very interesting precedent to the rest of your workforce…would you be in rush to bring him back? Myself? I wouldn’t be all that sure that it was “best for business” to do that.
– By Matthew Roberts