So.....the CM Punk podcast interview is all the rage this week. If you missed it, Punk basically crapped all over Vince McMahon, Triple H, and the company in general. He gave a terrible story about how lousy the WWE attending physician was with one of his injuries, complained about how he got paid for WrestleMania 29, what they wanted him to do for WrestleMania 30, dumped all over Ryback, and called his own career a disappointment because he never main evented WrestleMania. How you received this depends a lot on what you thought of Punk to start with. If you're a "CM Punk is awesome in everything he does!" guy then this interview was a major dose of well earned righteous indignation from a man who was repeatedly done wrong by WWE management. If you're a Punk hater then this was 100 sour grapes that may not even be all that believable. If you're somewhere in the middle like me, you saw some of it as spot on and some of it as sour grapes. What do I think about the big points:
The Doctor Issue
Now this is one area, maybe the only area, where I will totally side with Punk no matter what anyone else has to say on the matter. In short, Punk was misdiagnosed by the in-house doctor with what turned out to be MRSA. The doctor was only giving him basic antibiotics and those weren't helping so he went to another doctor who told him he had MRSA and "should be dead". There is no excuse for this kind of thing to happen. This is obviously just another case where you should know that the team/company doctor is not your friend. He works for the team or company and not for you; his or her job is not to get you healthy so much as to get you working again. Punk was right to do what he did, and would have had every right to sue had he chose.
One of the things that pissed him off was that at WrestleMania 30 he was supposed to work with Triple H, which he absolutely did not want to do. From Buzzfeed, here's how it supposedly went:
Punk reportedly told Triple H, “With all due respect, I do not need to wrestle you. You need to wrestle me. I do not want to wrestle you. I seriously resent you for not putting me over three years ago when you should have. That would’ve been best for business. But you had to come in and squash it… I’m in a position now where I can tell you that I don’t have to, nor do I want to wrestle you.”He told Cabana in the interview, “I don’t care if I was supposed to win (which I was). I didn’t care. I didn’t want to give him the fucking privilege.”
Now we all know Triple H was once notorious for not putting people over, except for when it suited him. For Punk to still be pissed off over a match result from three years ago is a bit much, though. Before the famed Summer of Punk in 2011, Punk was very much running into a glass ceiling at every turn. His World Title reigns ended due to injury angles and the company wanting the title on someone else to put a storyline over. There was the loss to Triple H that he spoke of. He lost to Randy Orton at a WrestleMania. His Straight Edge Society angle came to a more abrupt end than he wanted as well. He was Daniel Bryan before Daniel Bryan, basically. And he still carried that around like a grudge years later, even after he'd made it, which that quote shows. But it's kind of hard to keep pushing that line after you've had a 400-plus day title reign (the longest since Hulk Hogan's first run with the title) and numerous clean wins over the top star in the company. Punk openly taking that kind of stance is like going up to a girl who wouldn't go out with you years later after you've gotten married and have a family.
Working with Part-Timers
Punk also expressed some real resistance to working with, and putting over part-timers. Everyone knows who he's talking about here - The Rock, The Undertaker, and Brock Lesnar. Triple H would have been the fourth part-timer that Punk would have had to work with in a little over a year, and that can be read one of two ways. On the one hand the company keeps putting you in these spots to help get some guy over who doesn't show up very often, but on the other hand you're the one they trust to get a great match out of somebody who likely can't deliver one on their own anymore. Punk's match with the Undertaker at WrestleMania 29 was easily the match of the night, and his Summerslam match against Lesnar was arguably the same. He got better matches out of a beyond rusty Rock than anyone else would have. The downside to these performances is that the other guy went over every time. And while I do see his point, there is another guy who took on two of those same three part-timers (Rock and Lesnar) and put them over.......John Cena. Cena jobbed clean to Lesnar at Summerslam this year in a more decisive fashion than he's ever lost to anyone. And while we're at it the Undertaker opted to end his fabled, legendary WrestleMania undefeated streak by losing to Lesnar this year. Punk was not the only big name guy putting over part-timers so he needs to just get over that. This reeks of Bret Hart-ism, aka taking the results of the matches too seriously.
Main Eventing WrestleMania
Punk considers his career a disappointment because he never main evented WrestleMania. Man, I guess..... He is the only performer that reached his level with the company to never do it at least once. Meanwhile, these guys have been in at least one: Paul Orndorff, Bob Orton, King Kong Bundy, Sid Vicious (twice), Yokozuna (twice), Bam Bam Bigelow, The Big Show, Batista (twice) and The Miz. In addition others who are more on Punk's level like Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Randy Orton, Triple H, and Shawn Michaels have all topped the card at least once. At the same time his 400-plus day title reign was longer than anyone not named Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales, Bob Backlund, or Hulk Hogan. I can see why he feels bad about that, but there was always the option of staying with the company until he did it. Given the way the roster has been decimated by the injury bug he very well may have a shot at it this coming year. And when exactly when she he have topped the card? He was a main event level guy (I'm talking status not ability) since 2011; there were three WrestleMania's that followed his ascent. In 2012 Rock vs Cena was the big event, and there's no way that was going last. And in 2013 they did the Rock-Cena rematch. Given how that was a planned two year arc for Rock and Cena there was no way to fit him in. Yes he wanted a three way dance with Rock and Cena at WM 29, and he was deserving, but that would have Undertaker without a worthy opponent. And this year he was slated to take on and beat Triple H. If they'd gone with the Batista-Orton without inserting Daniel Bryan I could see his gripe, but they went with what the fans wanted so all was well. Again, man....I guess.
He'll be Back
Contrary to his final claim, he will be back. Why? Because they always come back. Bret Hart had a much bigger set of gripes against Vince McMahon, and he came back. Hulk Hogan testified against Vince in a criminal case that could have sent Vince to jail, and he came back. Next to those two, Punk is just a frustrated employee. He'll find out soon enough that those 'CM Punk!' chants will fade over time, and he'll want those back if nothing else. He will find no better place to work than the WWE. Going to TNA or back to Ring of Honor are out of the question. That leaves the inevitable day when he'll be relegated to doing signings at local house shows for low level promotions or at Comic-Cons. Punk has a huge ego, despite anything he says, and that will prevent him from staying away forever. Main eventing WrestleMania is a hell of a white whale and I do no think that if the chance came he would turn it down out of spite. He is human, after all. The other things I thought was a little iffy was when he talked about money. Whenever someone starts a riff with 'it's not about the money' you better believe that it absolutely is about the money. And of course, after saying he didn't want to talk about money he complained about not being paid as much for WrestleMania as Cena, Undertaker, etc. So yeah, not buying it. All in all, it was a great interview and how you take it will largely depend on how much you like Punk to start with like I said.