Longest reigning WWE champion of
21st wrestling generation walks out
Former WWE champion CM Punk has legitimately walked out on WWE. The decision came after the result of this past Sunday's Royal Rumble event. Punk, who entered as number one to safeguard an eventual loss, told WWE Chairman Vince McMahon he was "going home" before leaving to hometown Chicago. Punk was said to be frustrated with old timers gaining favourable pushes to the top while full time workers were left to wait in the wings after their hard work was unacknowledged.
After losing the Royal Rumble to a returning Batista, this was said to be the final straw for Punk. He had reportedly encountered numerous run ins with management previously. Punk broke the news he was heading home before the post-Rumble Raw was scheduled to broadcast earlier that day.
The decision will be fresh in wrestling insider minds which mimics the actions of 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin. Austin had walked out three times in the past, once directly after Wrestlemania and the post-Raw's also. Though Austin had some fan support, he was still an ungrateful talent that failed to respect the business and has never recovered since. Punk, however has received a mixed reception. Though others support, some are disappointed with Punk's behaviour. Punk has been since pulled from all upcoming events with his contract up for renewal in July.
Punk was due to be scheduled into a battle with The Authority, taking on Triple H at Wrestlemania XXX on April 6th. Punk and Triple H have had numerous battles over the past two years that have been uneventful in places remaining fresh in viewers' minds.
Naturally some fans believed it may be staged to gather attention, though WWE never stage this level of detail. This is legitimate. WWE instantly unfollowed Punk on Twitter, too. One thing is certain, Vince McMahon will not allow anyone to willingly "pick up their ball and go home" without any consequences, regardless of how one man feels. McMahon will be seething and may want to give some retribution to Punk.
Punk had considered retirement for some time and had spoken of doing so within a couple of years, as has Alberto Del Rio previously.
Punk added "everything is up in the air" backstage and has sparked fears he may be burned out. He has also been banged up with nagging injury pains requiring surgery for months.
So what does this all mean?
If Punk honestly believed on any level he should win the Rumble, to which he has stated years ago he has never won and would like to, that would be ludicrous. Punk was not in contention for this year's Rumble even if Roman Reigns and Batista weren't scheduled to win. Battling injuries, back to back losing streaks and decreased card value, anyone can see why Punk is frustrated with any real lack of direction. However, it is a cardinal sin in the wrestling business to walk out on the situation in this context. It may be difficult to reach McMahon directly, but Punk should have attempted to speak with McMahon directly regarding his concerns than drop a quick 'bye' on him. It is not the best way to conduct oneself without repercussions. Perhaps Punk felt he has nothing to lose. When you do feel this way, it is easier to express yourself, however needs to be done in a professional manner. No one man is bigger than any company. Punk should take some time out to rest and recoup and hope WWE may be open to conversation in time.
Punk should remember though, he himself had to negotiate two years ago with McMahon to get a higher push which saw him become WWE champ for the longest time for this generation in the business. Batista's return may be negotiated for Wrestlemania, but with no real plans outlined, WWE need to stabilise its card. The only problem is it may not be as celebratory as anticipated as previous 'Mania matches have dipped in credibility. Punk was not happy to lose the title either at last year's Royal Rumble to The Rock, which many backstage people add Punk was listening to the John Cena aspect of Rock hatred, where Rock is a legitimate and deserved in his own right booking.
Recent returns include Batista, The Ultimate Warrior and the upcoming Old Schooler Hulk Hogan.
Legend and 'Ambassador' to WWE, Mick Foley acted out by throwing a brick through and destroying his television because Daniel Bryan was not in the main event of the Rumble and win. He tweeted he was "disgusted" with WWE. Bryan is now front runner for a Triple H showdown match for ''Mania.
WWE have since been attempting to re-focus attention on 'big guys' meeting the requirements of big muscles and over six foot. With its roster of John Cena, Sheamus, Big Show, Mark Henry and Ryback being let downs, WWE has had to re-recruit some reliable names. Batista, The Rock and Brock Lesnar are three that have always been guys that can hold decent matches in the ring, regardless of whether they are liked as a rehire by fans. WWE feels it needs this level of contrast to create further feuds.
One thing this has done is express to WWE that it needs to listen, even if it doesn't accept Punk's critique that the product and backstage politics are affecting the company and the business order. Something has got to give following this impasse of conflicting ideals. Though if Punk honestly believes the likes of Wade Barrett, Dolph Ziggler and The Miz are going to be stars in today's age then that is simply preposterous. All those acts have dipped on their own merits. Sometimes, stars must accept they have been given enough opportunities and dropped their ball. On this occasion, with Punk taking his ball and going home, this will be seen as a big diss to the audience, who invest time and effort to see him on shows. We aren't without sympathy for Punk, either. It is difficult to express such point without an ear on board, but this level of action is not acceptable under any circumstance and could have been conducted better. Punk could always come and sign with us if he wants. :) If we were there, we'd give you a big ol' hug and say nothing for ten minutes. Or come to London and we'll go for dinner. But don't join any wrestling companies there, either. Take a breather, get some clarity (on both sides) and then open talks again, should all parties be open to discussion. And don't do anything stupid. X
© Max Waltham 31st January 2014