By: Justin K. Hite
In the wrestling world, there was a great divide when CM Punk decided to leave the company. He left food on the plate, and left wrestling fans, as a whole, feeling empty. Many still feel burned today. Not unlike a father walking out on family, Punk (in a heated battle with WWE, long-documented in the 2012 WWE documentary, "CM Punk: Best In The World") decided enough was enough, and walked right out of the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on January 27, 2014.
A WWE return for CM Punk continues to be the hot topic - even over two years after he infamously walked out of the company, and out of pro wrestling fans' lives. So would CM Punk deserve the support of fans, should he ever decide to return to WWE? Yes.
His name value, alone, has skyrocketed since leaving the company (as evidenced by "CM Punk" chants, even over 2 years after walking out), & the fact that although he hasn't yet been involved with a single UFC fight, he is currently one of the most searched fighters in the world of MMA.
"He is a hypocrite. Everything he said, he has become." I get what you're saying here. Punk leaves and comes back, only to have become everything he once strongly (and very openly) stood against. In an alternate universe, CM Punk never leaves, chooses to stay in WWE, and is today feuding with the likes of Kane in the second hour of RAW. Yawn. It's unlikely WWE would have ever granted CM Punk the one thing that he so greatly has earned - to headline the main event at "WrestleMania." Let's face the facts. If it were ever going to happen, it was going to happen around 2012 - at the height of his popularity.
The creative "buck" in WWE stops with Owner and Chairman, Vince McMahon, along with his daughter, Stephanie McMahon, (WWE Chief Brand Officer), and Son-In-Law, Triple H (WWE Superstar, and real-life Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events & Creative), who collectively, with a stick, poked the bear (or snake) CM Punk for far too long.
Even if Punk had stayed (as so many people have cried over him leaving), he wasn't going to be paid the respect he had so rightfully deserved, and given the opportunity to perform on the main event at the "biggest stage of them all," (something Punk has openly stated countless times, he has worked his entire career for). This man didn't need more championships, he just wanted to be "THE GUY at THE SHOW."
Those of you who cry that Punk "took his ball and went home" fail to realize that had he stayed, the result would have been largely, the same. He was damned if he stayed, damned if he left. I wonder if any of you have personally felt under-appreciated and shit on from your boss and employer, until you finally had the nerve to take a risk and bet on yourself?
I'm glad CM Punk finally left WWE. I love the "CM Punk" chants every time WWE visits Chicago, and how, even still today, every single time Vince McMahon walks out on a live RAW - he hears the same. I hope in 2 years, they still do it. It's a stark reminder to WWE management, that they failed one of their premiere stars. When you hear "CM Punk, CM Punk," you are hearing me, and so many others. It's less about Punk, the person, and more about the movement he helped inspire. The same movement that lead to guys like Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan, Sami Zayn, and Kevin Owens finally being given the chance to headline main events at WWE Pay Per View's and Special Attractions.
And yes, we should all move on from CM Punk, and appreciate the talent that is there (WWE) now. More importantly, lets all take a moment to consider everything that HAS changed, large in part to CM Punk:
- The concept of NXT (Oh, it was all Triple H's credit? Right.)
- Indie talent getting a chance (Zayn, Styles, Samoa Joe, and on and on. Performers who who previously never given the chance to be in the ring with guys like John Cena - the typical "WWE prototype.")
- New, young talent being given opportunity, rather than the same old John Cena/Randy Orton/Batista crap. (See: Reigns, Roman)
- Daniel Bryan (deserves his own credit, but he definitely got to use the post-Punk hype to cash in. And the fans absolutely loved every minute of it).
The entire philosophies of WWE, as a whole were challenged and eventually re-thought, and there was one man, one employee, one superstar who got right in their face (even on live TV - YouTube search: "CM Punk Pipebomb on RAW"), and forced them to reconsider what they were doing, and the talent that had been previously buried because of their failure as a company to recognize their wrong-doing.
I could go on and on. The people who shit on CM Punk for leaving WWE are the same people who fail hard to realize what his departure actually means, and what was gained, subsequently. Get over your whole "he took his ball and went home" approach, open your eyes, and realize that there's more to the story than just "kayfabe" & who's on the opening segment for your viewing pleasure on Monday Night RAW.
WWE is was headed in a bad, bad direction. Go back to 2008-2012. The writing was on the wall. Batista's 2014 Royal Rumble "win," was possibly the last straw. Fast forward a few years, and we now have this "new era," that WWE wants to push. We have a global WWE "Cruiserweight Classic," featuring 32 (mostly) young, new "cruiserweights" from the independent circuit all over the world. This is previously unheard of for WWE to take a chance and share some of their precious airtime and dedicate it towards anything other than some ridiculously goofy concept that Vince McMahon thought of all by himself outside of a pool party in Stamford, Connecticut, with the assistance of guys like WWE Television Producer Kevin Dunn there to help develop and encourage the circus.
Funny how things suddenly change for the better. And everyone wants to celebrate NXT, the "new era," and give credit to guys like Triple H? Maybe WWE Universe, The McMahon's, and Triple H should consider giving credit to the guy that slapped them upside the face with the truth to begin with.
"CM PUNK! CM PUNK! CM PUNK! CM PUNK!"
CM Punk will make his MMA debut on September 10, 2016 against Mickey Gall at UFC 203.
Justin K. Hite is a graphic designer and lifelong pro wrestling fan.