COMMENTARY | In July 2011, CM Punk shocked the wrestling world when he sat down on a stage in Las Vegas and delivered a blistering promo expressing his frustrations with the WWE. After years of being overlooked and buried by the creative team, Punk let loose a rant for the ages which focused around his desire to leave the company that month. His frustrations had boiled over to a point that he was willing to leave the world's biggest wrestling company rather than put up with the same garbage week after week.
Once again it appears that frustration has got the best of Punk, but this time he chose to leave the company before his contract expired. On Jan. 28 and into the next day reports surfaced that Punk left the company and told Vince McMahon he was going home. These reports appear to have been confirmed by PWInsider.
To further drive home the legitimacy of his departure, on its website, the WWE has pulled Punk from advertising on almost all future WWE events. He was scheduled to wrestle in Toledo, Ohio Tuesday night - a show I attended and can confirm he was advertised as the main event for - but he did not appear on the show.
While these rumors could just be the WWE leaking information as part of some grandiose scheme to make it seem like Punk is leaving again, it would appear this is legit. If that is the case, here is the good and the bad of the situation.
Punk has never been shy about expressing his disapproval of part-time wrestlers coming in and stealing the spotlight every year at WrestleMania. PWInsider is suggesting Punk left because it was clear he once again had no shot at main eventing WrestleMania this year and decided not to stick around for a rumored match against Triple H.
Maybe by losing one of its top draws for the other nine months of the year, the WWE will stop giving marquee spots to guys like Brock Lesnar who have made it clear they only want to come in for the big money and leave while the rest of the roster works all year. The Rock is an all-time great, but it's really aggravating as a fan to see him show up five times a year to get the main event at WrestleMania knowing he is leaving almost as soon as he returns.
It's also nice to know that Punk cares enough about the product that he isn't shy about speaking out for fans. During his dispute with the WWE in 2011, Punk went on air and said "you want to punish people for being wrestling fans," to McMahon. As was the case at last week's Royal Rumble, the WWE often times ignores the wants of fans in order to push its own agenda down our throats.
Go back and watch the Rumble, the four names that got the most spotlight on the card, John Cena, Batista, Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar have all been booed heavily by fans lately despite Cena and Batista being "good guys." Meanwhile the two guys who got the loudest reactions, Punk and Daniel Bryan were buried in terrible angles that night.
It's one thing to make fans wait a bit to see their favorites get over on the bad guys, but ignoring us for too long only results in fans tuning out.
This is simple. No CM Punk in the WWE is bad for the fans more than anybody else. Over the course of his career in the company, Punk has developed a reputation as being a guy who can deliver a good match, promo and story anytime he is asked. Whether he is a face or a heel, Punk knows how to entertain an audience like very few can.
I can say I was legitimately disappointed when Punk didn't appear in Toledo Tuesday and had I known he wasn't going to be on the card, I wouldn't have bought tickets. I would be willing to bet some people felt the same way.
While it's admirable that Punk is standing up for himself, the fans are the ones taking this one on the chin. Like he's said before Punk is just another spoke on the wheel and the WWE will just find another guy to take his spot. But sadly, whoever it is probably won't be able to fill his shoes.
It's also rough for Punk who is still in the prime of his career but left with no place in the United States to showcase his skills on a comparable stage. TNA may have a TV deal, but unlike WCW back in the day, TNA isn't competition for WWE.
In three months, when all the part-time talent is gone, the WWE will have one less star on the roster to help keep the product entertaining. That means having to build another name up and as we know, sometimes even the biggest push of a talent doesn't mean he'll connect with the fans.
This story is going to develop over the next few weeks and there's no doubt the rumor mill will be producing hundreds of different stories about what is going to happen with Punk. Storyline or not, Punk leaving the WWE is sure to get people talking, one way or another.
Matt Durr is a reporter from Michigan who has watched professional wrestling since he was 3 years old. Not just a WWE fan, Matt enjoys Ring of Honor and Japanese wrestling. He has covered University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University athletics for Annarbor.com. Follow him on Twitter @mdurr84.
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