I've had a couple people ask me my thoughts on the recent abrupt exit of CM Punk from WWE. It's been a few weeks, but details are still sketchy. Neither WWE nor CM Punk have publicly stated anything yet.
Here's what we do know:
The Royal Rumble pay-per-view was held on Sunday, January 26, 2014. They RR event is the official kick-off to "The Road to WrestleMania," the build to the biggest event of the year. The winner of the RR match, a 30-man battle royal, gets a match in the main event of WrestleMania for the championship. CM Punk was entered at number 1 in the match and eliminated through nefarious means by Kane, likely to further the storyline between the two.
In a very unpopular move to the fans in the arena, the returning Dave Batista won the Royal Rumble event. The uber-popular Daniel Bryan was not in the match and the crowd "hijacked" the show, repeatedly chanting "Daniel Bryan!" and "Yes! Yes! Yes!" throughout the night. Batista's win was heavily booed by the crowd.
The next night, CM Punk allegedly met with Vince McMahon and informed him that he was going home. That hasn't even been confirmed, but that's who you have to talk to to tell that you're leaving.
Everything else is conjecture:
CM Punk wasn't happy with his rumored WrestleMania match against Triple H. It hadn't been confirmed, but Punk's program with Kane had looked like it would seamlessly float into a WM match with Triple H.
CM Punk wasn't happy with Batista coming back and taking a WrestleMania main event. He has very openly gone on the record as saying he is not a fan of part-time wrestlers such as The Rock coming back and being put in the main event scene.
Punk has stated that his only real goal he has left in WWE is to be the true "main event" of WrestleMania, aka the last match of the night. He's said that he believes the best good guy should face the best bad guy in the biggest match of the year. On his WWE-produced DVD, he openly stated that John Cena facing The Miz at WrestleMania 27 instead of him was one of the reasons he decided he was leaving in 2011 (leading to the Summer of Punk angle).
Punk's contract expires in July of this year. If he wasn't coming back, this year would have been his last chance to main event WrestleMania.
Was he disappointed with the creative plans for Daniel Bryan?
Was he burnt out and injured? Could he not physically or mentally make it to July?
I think if you watch the video above, you can find out why Punk left. It seems like it's a combination of all the stuff I just put out there. Punk has always been a controversial interview subject, never one to tow the company line.
The interview above was from January 24, 2013. That was two days before the Royal Rumble and three days before he left the company. He was openly unhappy with stuff the company was doing and talking about how worn out and beaten down he felt. He's relatively young at only 35, but he noted that he's been wrestling since he was 15 (and wrestling at a world-class level for 10-12 years).
He's gone and nobody knows what's going on. Will we ever? I assume so at some point.
I'll leave you with some thoughts from Jim Ross that he posted in his blog. Aside from being an amazing wrestling mind and being in the business for nearly 40 years, Ross was previously the "Head of Talent Relations" in WWE during the late 90s. That basically means he hired and fired the talent. He has some insight into the mind of a wrestling superstar.
Recognizing when a talent is getting frayed around the edges is management's job. Once the problem is identified it is incumbent upon everyone involved in the equation to work together to solve the problem through compromise and respect but most of all communication.
If the talent or the company is unwilling to compromise, then, most likely the problem won't be solved and, therefore, if a problem can't be solved there's only one other option to put in play and that is to eliminate the problem.
Click here for the full blog post.