Imagine you’re a fan of someone. A rapper, an actor, an athlete. Hell, your favorite postman counts. Now imagine that person just quit. Just stopped what he or she did for a living out of the blue. Then that person never told fans why. Then, you’d see this person out in public: sporting events, interviews and never acknowledges leaving the fans or the fact that these fans even exist.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not cheering him anymore.
Last November, I stood in line for WrestleMania tickets under the impression that I’d be seeing CM Punk wrestle for the first time. Clearly, he wasn’t the only or necessarily the biggest reason for me to buy the tickets, but I definitely wanted to see Punk wrestle. Then in January, after the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, CM Punk left the WWE. There were rumors of unhappiness, injuries and being burnt out. As the story was unfolding, I was sure that it was a “work” – part of an elaborate storyline to fool fans for a swerve leading up to WrestleMania.
According to the rumors, Punk was unhappy with the fact he was going to wrestle HHH at WrestleMania, most likely because he wanted a main event spot and HHH didn’t have the best history of making his opponents look good. I absolutely get the frustration, especially in light of a less-deserving Batista looking like he was headed to a WrestleMania main event. Still, I didn’t buy it. Punk was coming back.
Then an episode of Monday Night RAW took place in Punk’s hometown of Chicago. No show. As the weeks led to WrestleMania, I was still skeptical that Punk had actually left. I still figured he’d show up at the big event and maybe have a dust up with Daniel Bryan or something.
We didn’t get CM Punk, but he still managed to get buried by HHH. See, as much as we may hate Hunter for his backstage politics or how he’s self-absorbed, no one can deny that the man is a competitor, obsessed with being considered one of the best ever. So he responded to Punk’s direct refusal to work with him by getting in the best shape of his life and putting on a classic match with Daniel Bryan. In one 30-minute match, he proved that he could’ve had a great match with Punk and would have lost to him in the middle of the ring.
It was then that everyone started to realize that we didn’t really need CM Punk anymore. I’m not sure Punk realizes or even cares, but he’s not bigger than wrestling. WWE has survived every major star either leaving the company or retiring and they’ve been fine. The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin both left wrestling within a single month in 2003 and the company kept rolling. If there’s one thing they know how to do, it’s move on without personnel.
Then the current WWE champion, Daniel Bryan, came down with a neck injury that may keep him out for a while and the murmurs of a CM Punk return only got louder. In the meantime, Punk showed up at Chicago Blackhawks games, sang “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” for the Cubs and even did TV appearances. He has yet to acknowledge the fans he turned his back on.
And that’s really who he’s wronged here. I get that the WWE can be a frustrating place. That the wrong talent gets pushed sometimes and talent gets burned out. I understand Punk needing time off. And he’s definitely sticking it to the WWE brass like we’ve wished an athlete would. However, he’s sticking it to his fans worse.
Last night, at WWE’s latest Chicago even, “Payback,” the Punk chants started again but waned as the night went on. I honestly hope that’s the last we hear of the chants. And I really don’t give a damn if Punk ever comes back. He turned his back on us. And he’s quite frankly being an a$$hole about it. As a wrestling fan, it’s time to close the book on CM Punk. Good riddance.