You know those writers that see an interview or read a headline and it just compels them to go off and bang away on their laptops to get their thoughts on the subject down as soon as possible? Sure you do. You’re a pro wrestling fan. That’s why you’re reading this, right? And you yourself obviously read this particular headline so you know what this piece is about. Now it’s very likely you’ve heard more about CM Punk in the past few days than you perhaps ever wanted to. If that’s the case then you should know you’re about to hear a lot more.
So why is that? Why did Punk look 10 years younger and healthier than we have ever seen him? Well, he’s not getting dropped on his back every night now, that’s a start. These guys may be trained to take physical abuse but it does take its toll eventually. And the crazy road schedule does not help either. Being separated from family and friends for the majority of the year is something that many cannot even fathom. Living out of a suitcase from one hotel to the other is even more unimaginable.
Try sleeping a regular schedule every night of the week when your body hurts and you have to be up at the crack of dawn to catch a flight. The eyes tend to get heavy when they do not close enough. All of this equals one very obvious truth; CM Punk no longer looks like a WWE Superstar. He now looks like a regular guy, a self-professed jerk that is just enjoying life and having fun. That’s who he is now.
And while it may be hard to take, the thing is Punk doesn’t need you. He really never did.
It’s a lot to process, I know. But if you really think about it, the whole thing makes perfect sense. Since the night that he dropped the pipe bomb on Monday Night Raw back in 2011, fans have heard the same mantra repeated over and over again. “WWE needs Punk a lot more than he needs them.” We all knew it. We all agreed with it the first time we heard it. It made a lot of sense as it not only referenced the incredible popularity explosion he was enjoying but it also alluded to his attitude.
And Punk’s attitude has always been screw you, get out of my way. Now there’s a T-Shirt idea. Oh wweshop.com?
But now our knowledge of Punk’s attitude seems to have faded away. It’s like we have forgotten who he was and replaced him with ho we wanted him to be. The CM Punk that he became in 2011 was a more PG version of his heel character. Yes he was sarcastic and yes he was egotistical but that was all for the camera. Punk understood the fans were the ones that ultimately made him a star, he knew they respected him and he respected them.
With that being the case, he checked his character at the door. He may have become the company’s antihero and bucked authority at every turn, but he did so with a not so subtle wink to the crowd. Punk had a way of looking into the camera and with a smile, he was saying “yeah, I can’t stand most people but don’t worry; you and me? We’re cool.”
But the problem is, it wasn’t true. That wasn’t him. It was never him. Punk was likeable and played to the crowd because he was a babyface and that’s what he was supposed to do. He worked us as much has WWE ever worked him and at the end of the day, no one has any right to complain about it. Professional wrestlers are paid to lie and that’s exactly what he did.
Even as a heel, Punk was loved and respected for what he brought to the table and what he meant to the fans that supported him. They booed him because they were playing along. They knew he was having fun and they were having fun right along with him. But he didn’t care then, either. Punk had a job to do and he did it. And honestly? He didn’t care if you approved or not.
See a recurring theme here? Doesn’t it just make you hate him? When you look at Punk now, especially in the context of that red carpet interview, doesn’t it just feel as though he’s laughing in your face? Well, it shouldn’t. The fact is he won. Punk left at the top of his game and he didn’t look back. CM Punk leaving WWE is akin to Michael Jordan leaving the Chicago Bulls in 1999, except Punk is being a real jerk about it. Maybe Punk isn’t Jordan, maybe he’s Dennis Rodman. Maybe he’s something else altogether.
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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