Nearly two months have passed since CM Punk left WWE. In that time, countless stories have been written about Punk’s motivations, his mindset and possible future returns to the company. And even though neither side has shown any indication of repairing the damage done, fans continue to want The Best in the World back in WWE.
This has to be the most curious case that we have seen in quite some time. On one side, there is WWE; the world’s largest pro wrestling entertainment company. They have been the standard bearer for so many years now, the undisputed king of the industry.
Some of the biggest names that the business has ever seen have made their careers under Vince McMahon. And many of those names are not thought of as very technically proficient in the ring; their success came because of their looks or ability on the mic.
From Hulk Hogan to The Ultimate Warrior to John Cena to countless others, each one is an example of charisma and marketability winning out over true wrestling skill. Love it or hate it, the fact is that these three men in particular will likely always be linked in the same category.
But that’s WWE. Fans have grown accustomed to how that company does business and it will almost certainly not change anytime soon.
On the other side is CM Punk; one of the most talented workers that WWE has ever known. When he came to the company he did so with an incredible buzz.
He had earned his stripes on the independent circuit and was thought of by many fans to be the next great breakout star of WWE. The fact that he was allowed to keep his name, his look and his gimmick indicated that WWE believed in him. CM Punk was on his way.
He was on his way straight to developmental.
Punk’s assignment to Florida came as a surprise to many, including the man that was running the territory at the time, Paul Heyman. But despite the negativity that seemed to surround the move, Punk made the best of it. He was perhaps the most talented of the group, a guy that was ready for the big time.
And when he finally got his shot, he took full advantage of it.
Though he was already a veteran, Punk was a fresh face to WWE fans that were not familiar with his work. He was something different, someone that did not subscribe to the notion that pro wrestlers had to look a certain way or behave in a certain matter.
Punk was his own man, inside and outside the ring. And fans loved him for it.
Through the years that followed, Punk’s career took him to several titles, including the World Championship. He was trusted to work big rivalries with the company’s hottest stars, from The Undertaker to Jeff Hardy. With each new challenge, Punk rose to the occasion.
And despite the turns that his character took, from the Straight Edge Society to The New Nexus and everything in between, Punk stayed true to himself. He not only lived in that vein of reality, he thrived in it.
So when the night came that he sat cross-legged on the Monday Night Raw ramp and delivered his first officially labeled pipe bomb, it was the most natural thing that he could have done. It was who he was, the moment screamed “reality TV” because it was Punk that did it. He was genuine, he was fearless and he was completely in his element.
From that point on, Punk’s career exploded. He saw the WWE Championship for a 434 day reign and more importantly, he saw more respect than he had likely ever known. On any given night, his ring work was praised as the best in the company while his mic work was second to none. With one promo, Punk could move you and with one match he could move you to your feet.
CM Punk had finally become the WWE Superstar that so many fans believed he was capable of being. He had it all. But then he left. And he has not been back since.
Two sides, two completely different viewpoints and no apparent way to bring the two together. Truth be told, there may not even be any desire on either side to even try anymore.
In a company that continues to promote John Cena as the top wrestler, is inducting The Ultimate Warrior in its Hall of Fame and has once again brought back Hulk Hogan, there seems to be no room for CM Punk. But whose fault is it? Where does the blame lie?
Has Vince McMahon washed his hands of Punk, content to move on as if he was never there? Punk’s name and likeness have been removed from most of WWE’s promotional materials and he was not even included in the Undertaker’s WrestleMania highlights package that recently aired on TV.
Has Punk truly just closed the door on any possibility of a return to the company? His Twitter account has been silent since January 27 and though he has appeared on AMC’s The Talking Dead, he seems perfectly content to remain silent on his WWE status.
And what about the legion of fans that supported Punk through the years, that believed in him when WWE did not? Do they not rate a farewell run or even one last goodbye before Punk rides off into the sunset?
There’s no question that Punk put his time in. The toll that the business took on his body over the years is likely reason enough for him to walk away and never look back. But on the surface, it seems all that’s needed is a sit-down between Punk and WWE to fix the situation.
Tom Clark is a WWE Featured Columnist & Consultant for Bleacher Report, a Contributor for JBL’s Layfield Report and a Contributor for Whatculture.com
Follow Tom on Twitter @tomclarkbr
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