WWE | Pro Wrestling

CM Punk: Where do you stand?

Ah, CM Punk. In the ring, few could match him for his skill, innate charisma and penchant for creating memorable moment after memorable moment. Outside the ring, it seemed the Straight Edge Superstar was also in a league of his own when it came to the size of the chip on his shoulder.

If we’re to believe everything we’ve read about Punk chastising fans, ‘taking his ball and going home’ when denied a WrestleMania headline spot, and generally being a bit of a diva, Punk’s attitude away from the squared circle is hardly the stuff role models are made of.

Yet fans stood firmly behind their man. After all, once the clock struck clobberin’ time, the former WWE champ could go, and boy did he ever. Rarely was there a time that Punk’s appearance on a pro wrestling show didn’t give us something to talk about.

Even now, months after his supposed retirement, few wrestlers -retired or not- are able to keep the Internet buzzing like the man born Phil Brooks. Crowds still break out in ‘CM Punk!’ chants in arenas across the US, optimistic armchair bookers still fervently plot his big comeback, and his every public appearance still generate headlines by the truck load.

Take the recent news, for example, of Punk’s backstage appearance at an Ohio Valley Wrestling show. Though he was apparently there to watch his buddy Cliff Compton capture the company’s top prize, the bigger story emerging centered around the OVW roster being told not to bother former indie star.

Such rumors have since been rubbished, in particular by 502photo, a Reddit user who claims to work for OVW’s production team, and who insists that the roster were told no such thing. Rather, says our supposed man-in-the-know, the OVW locker room opted not to bother their guest out of respect.

Still, such rumor-squashing came a little too late for some fans, who by that point had already flocked online to either dismiss Punk as an arrogant so-and-so far too big for his britches, or else jump to his defense as a man simply trying to enjoy a quiet retirement.

Which camp were in the right? That’s not for this fan to say. Instead, let’s look at the argument from both sides, shall we?

In defense of Punk
On the one side of things, we have the Punk fans (some might even go so far as to call them apologists), who are always on call to jump to the man’s defense.

In this camp, we get the argument that Punk has always been perfectly justified in his somewhat less-than-exemplary attitude. If wrestling fans have been browbeaten, mocked, blocked or otherwise felt the wrath of CM Punk, it’s only because they deserve it.

As fans, they say, Punk owes us nothing. We paid for a ticket or a PPV stream to see him perform, and he gave us what we paid for, and that’s as far as the fan/performer relationship need ever go.. Heck, some fans haven’t even paid a cent to watch the man in action, so what right do they have to demand his time and attention, let alone take to the web to criticise him?

Nope, CM Punk’s only obligation to us wrestling fans was to deliver on WWE programming and at live events. After that, he owes us zilch.

Besides, we all know somebody who has met Punk and found him to be perfectly charming, pleasant and accommodating to fans. Rumours of his negative attitude have been greatly overstated.

What’s more, because he consistently delivered, and never took time off to make movies or play in a rock band, he absolutely deserved a Wrestlemania headline spot, and was totally justified in jumping ship when that wasn’t on the cards.

Punk was there, week in, week out, when all these part-timers were off doing other things, and they got to come in and steal his big moment on past ‘Manias? That’s not fair.

Then this year they want to dump him in a pointless match with Triple H, who would only bury him anyway because that’s what Triple does? No thanks! If we were Punk, we would have left too.

As for this whole Ohio Valley Wrestling incident? Look, Punk is effectively retired. He has no obligation to anybody and can pretty much do whatever he pleases. Wouldn’t you hate it if you went to hang out with a friend and were constantly being pestered? Of course he deserves to go backstage to a professional wrestling show and not be bothered by anybody. Whether he, the bookers, or the roster themselves insisted on it, it’s perfectly justified.

The other side:
Flipping the proverbial coin, we find Punk’s harshest critics, those quick to bash him for every move that isn’t a GTS.

Without the wrestling fans, his naysayers insist, Punk wouldn’t be where he is today. Yet we’ve all heard stories about him being rude to fans, blocking them on social media and being something of a **insert your favourite expletive here**.

Seriously? How ungrateful can you be?

As for WrestleMania, Punk just came across as a huge mark. Whilst he was busy complaining about part-timers bagging the main event spot, didn’t he stop to think that Wrestlemania might actually draw a bigger buyrate (and thus a bigger payout for Punk himself) with the likes of The Rock onboard than without?

Quitting just because WWE wanted to book him in a match with Triple H was silly too. The Game is still a huge name, and going up against one of the most influential men in the company would have effectively guaranteed a marquee match. Maybe not the main event, sure, but a money match nonetheless.

Besides, wouldn’t a real pro have made the best with what he was given, rather than packing up and going home?

In the case of his recent backstage appearance at OVW, it really doesn’t matter whether the rumours are true or not. If a big name superstar dropped by and didn’t at least say hello to the roster when Punk was on his way up, wouldn’t he have been one of the first to blast them? Others paved the way for Punk’s success and no doubt offered him some advice along the way. Isn’t passing on what you’ve learned the right way to do things in pretty much any industry?

The verdict
We could go back and forth all day on this, but there, in a nutshell, are the main arguments most fans seem to have when it comes to CM Punk. The big question then, is where do you stand? Hit up the comments box below and let me know!

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Chris Skoyles

Chris Skoyles is a writer and wrestling fan from Wigan, England. Currently on a mission to watch and review every WWE ppv from Wrestlemania 1-30, you can read those reviews on the Retro Pro Wrestling blog, tweet him @Retropwrestling, or visit his personal site at www.chrisskoyles.com

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