VIA: In the latest edition of Colt Cabana's popular podcast "The Art of Wrestling", former WWE wrestler CM Punk, who left the organization back in January, describes the reasons for his exit in a lengthy, tell-all interview.
Punk's absence had been a mysterious topic for months, but we now have the answer straight from the wrestler himself, as the former title-holder describes the financial and personal reasons accompanying his retirement.
Punk's primary gripes with the organization were the "creatively toxic" environment fostered by CEO Vince McMahon, as well as the health risks associated with wrestling, namely the sport's concussion issues. Punk detailed shoddy concussion protocol exercised by the organization, various injuries that he had suffered over the course of his career, and WWE's insistence to put him in the ring despite these impairments. The most harrowing episode, he says, involved a staph infection that nearly cost him his life.
Name-dropping a number of brands, sponsors, and magazines interested in working with him, Punk also explained how every attempt to market himself further was nixed by McMahon, despite the fact that McMahon allowed other wrestlers to get away with the same self-promotion. Punk believed that he wasn't being billed or respected properly within the WWE universe, creating a one-sided relationship in favor of the company. It came to a point, Punk said, where he felt that he wasn't being fairly compensated for his work. A lengthy litigation circus eventually unfolded after he decided to leave.
Based on Punk's description, McMahon is a shameless, greedy, and self-interested owner who is only out to protect the WWE name as opposed to the wrestlers themselves. Essentially, Punk's move came down to the fact that he no longer wanted to serve as a puppet for the industry. It's a fair complaint. Who doesn't want to feel like they have at least some measure of control over the direction of their career? As Punk reminds us, "Money is not everything, ladies and gentlemen."
While Punk's fans are undoubtedly distressed about his decision to leave, they should at least take solace in the fact that Punk is at peace with his exit:
I'm the fucking happiest I've been in I don't know how long, at least three years, legitimately. I find these other things that have made me happy and I thought this thing that I loved, that I thought I loved, it just made me so miserable. All the time, it made me miserable. I guess the black and the white of it, when you boil it all down, the essence of it, was I was miserable, I was unhappy, fuck it! I made myself happy. I left. That's what it boils down to. It wasn't an easy decision to make but it was also a long time coming.
Wrestling aficionados should listen to the podcast themselves if they want to get a detailed description of WWE's inner-workings from a primary source. Check it out below.
Punk acknowledges he can be “difficult.” “Whenever they had me backed into a corner, I know I wasn’t the easiest guy to deal with, and I wasn’t the nicest guy to deal with…” But, he says he’s now the happiest he’s been in three years.
He now dislikes the term “pipebomb.” “I despise that word now… It feels douchey.”
He wanted to switch to MMA gear in 2011, complete with sponsors on his trunks. Vince McMahon turned it down, but he let Brock Lesnar continue being a walking Jimmy John’s billboard.
Vince McMahon also rejected Punk’s idea to accompany Chael Sonnen to the octagon in Chicago just before the Royal Rumble. Apparently, he looks down on UFC as “barbaric”… at least until he can get a hold of Lesnar.
Punk was originally supposed to be in the 12 Rounds sequel, but the part went to Randy Orton. This was due to a dispute about what dates he would miss while filming.
He’s not really fazed by his Twitter critics. “This is nothing anybody would ever say to my face in public, because they just wouldn’t have the f*cking balls, because I would punch them in the throat.” I have zero difficulty picturing him doing this.
He had his doubts about the WWE Network. Vince McMahon claimed they would “figure things out.” Still waiting on that, frankly.
WWE’s concussion test is a bit iffy. Punk says he passed the test while listening to music on his headphones and texting Cabana.
Punk didn’t want to turn heel in his program with The Rock. McMahon said he would “owe him one” if he turned. Interestingly enough, the alternate plan was for Punk to remain a babyface and drop the WWE Championship to Daniel Bryan.
The Shield was CM Punk’s idea. The Big Show was actually supposed to be Punk’s backup at Survivor Series, but he suggested a trio of developmental talents instead. Also, Chris Hero (Kassius Ohno) was supposed to be a part of the group, but he was replaced by Roman Reigns.
Ryback “took twenty years” off his life. Punk suffered broken ribs and other assorted injuries at the hands of “the steroid guy,” as he calls him.
Punk does NOT enjoy making part-timers look good. The Rock, The Undertaker, and Brock Lesnar in particular.
As of the 2014 Royal Rumble, he was supposed to wrestle (and beat) Triple H at WrestleMania XXX.
Sick, injured, and feeling neglected, Punk said he wouldn’t “give him that privilege.” Punk did NOT quit the night after the Royal Rumble, but he did walk out.
WWE doctors refused to treat a staph infection Punk had for months. The doctor who eventually treated him told him he could have died after going untreated for so long.
Punk was fired on the day of his wedding to AJ Lee. He suggests that this was a deliberate move from Triple H.
He considers that he failed his goal of main-eventing WrestleMania. He’s come to terms with it though, mainly on the merits of his match with The Undertaker at WrestleMania 29.
There will be a follow-up episode of the podcast where Punk will take questions from fans. I am 100% certain this will end well.