Fittingly, as we were all giving thanks for the wonderful things in our lives yesterday, former WWE superstar CM Punk interrupted the holiday with a long, rambling podcast as close friend Colt Cabana’s guest.
It’s filled with the typical, ego-charged rhetoric from Punk we’ve come to expect. He says he’ll never go to work for WWE again, citing a barrage of claims, with the most damning being Vince McMahon and company sent him termination papers on his wedding day.
Yawn. Well, when you don’t show up for work for months on end, what exactly do you expect? The company tried to negotiate, then suspended him and finally – when nothing else seemed to be producing results – ended his employment. This type of logic is lost on Punk, who just can’t fathom how an organization he showed so much disrespect to could pull the trigger on such a decision.
The interview features plenty of other shades of jealousy and over-valuing of his persona. Jabs at company mainstays John Cena, Triple H and the Undertaker are all included, which perfectly illustrate why he was never “the guy” in the WWE and why we should be glad he’s no longer taking up TV time.
Punk makes a few striking claims in his final face-to-face meeting with McMahon. One of which is his merchandise was the top-selling in the company for a period of time.
Let’s clarify something here: no authentic financial report WWE is required to release to its stockholders backs up this claim. Yes, there was a short period of time following Punk’s initial superstar status in summer 2011 where there was a spike in sales of his merchandise. The numbers for the better part of the last decade have shown John Cena to be far and away the top-selling superstar in the company in merchandise, ratings and pay-per-view buys. Folks, no one else has even come close. Look it up.
Next up, let’s examine the Triple H claim. Punk rips on Hunter for not doing what was “right for business” by losing to him in the fall of 2011. Remember this? Most fans probably don’t even recall it. On one pay-per-view following Punk’s rise, he lost to Triple H, triggering a whole feud between the two.
The loss is greatly over-exaggerated, though. While fans ripped the decision in the moment, it had little effect on Punk’s overall value. He ended up in the WWE title match at Wrestlemania the following year (retaining the belt, no less) and had a very lengthy reign as Champion. He also got main event matches with the Undertaker and Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania and Summerslam the following year.
This brings us to perhaps Punk’s most insulting claim: his match with the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 29 wasn’t a main event. He says a match “with a 45-year-old guy” that doesn’t go on last isn’t the main event of the show. Wow. First off, the main event doesn’t have to go on last. Epic Wrestlemania encounters like Rock vs. Hogan and Flair vs. Michaels were the main events of their respective shows, but didn’t go on last. That type of thinking is pretty outdated.
More importantly, that’s a poor amount of respect for Undertaker, a true legend who put on a better match at his age with Punk than most other guys could give him in their 20s. The Streak WAS the selling point of the show, and Taker’s matches were always main event-level. What more could you ask for?
For Punk, what he’s been given is never good enough. The problem is his estimated value versus his actual value: he’s always thought of himself as the modern Steve Austin, an amazing talent that can draw and has the right to call the shots and – if he desires – even walk out of the company.
A quick comparison embarrassingly shows how far off he is. The reason Steve Austin could afford to walk out in 2003 was his two values did line up. He was the top-drawing star in the company’s history, the greatest single factor in WWE surviving the Monday Night Wars and arguably the biggest factor in Vince McMahon’s creation becoming, you know, a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange.
CM Punk’s actual value is as a star who had a very brief hot period in mid-2011 following a “controversial promo” that lead to his main event rise and subsequent fall. No matter how much the company – and the fans, for that matter – gave him, it was never enough. Vince McMahon looks like he finally got that earlier this year and pulled the plug.
Will CM Punk’s great in-ring technique be missed? Of course. Will his intense promos be desired? Absolutely. The ego won’t be, though. The current WWE product may be lacking, but it will eventually bounce back. When it does, hopefully the star who represents the “voice of the voiceless” will actually care about the voices he’s representing.