COMMENTARY | With the news setting in that CM Punk has apparently decided to quit the WWE and "go home," a major question needs to be answered.
Just how does the WWE explain this on TV?
CM Punk was one of the company's largest stars and his absence cannot go unmentioned. Regardless of whether Punk's quitting is real, part of a storyline or a mixture of both, the company has to address the issue on the Feb. 3 episode of Monday Night Raw.
How they should address the issue is very simple to me. They should bury CM Punk in a way no other wrestler has ever been treated before. Even worse than what they did when Steve Austin quit in 2002.
On Monday night, the show should open with Vince McMahon standing in the ring, no music, no introduction and not in the "Mr. McMahon" character, but the real Vince. From there McMahon should use real life experiences to showcase how difficult it's been to deal with Punk over the course of the last few years. He can finally give an on-camera response to Punk's "Pipe Bomb" promo and explain to fans why Punk chose to leave.
McMahon should talk about how unlike Austin, Punk never drew nearly as much money or wasn't even close to being as popular. He should talk about how Punk has at times been a public relations nightmare because of his interactions with fans and McMahon should talk about how Punk deserted the fans.
After McMahon speaks, John Cena should come to the ring, again without music and not in character to continue the verbal beat down of Punk. Cena can begin by hammering home the fact the regardless of how he felt, Punk had an obligation to the fans that made him a millionaire and gave him the chance to be a star to honor his commitments to them.
A lot of fans, myself included, paid good money for tickets to shows he was advertised on and now we won't get to see him. Cena may be a lot of things to wrestling fans, but love him or hate him he has always been a guy who tries to entertain fans.
But instead of doing it as the character John Cena, he should speak from the heart and say that no matter what happens behind the curtain, every wrestler has an obligation to show up for the fans. Cena then drops the mic and walks to the back and the scheduled episode of Raw should begin with no further mention of Punk again.
The reason for McMahon doing these things and not Triple H is simply a manner of not trying to blend the current storylines with a real-life incident. Cena's involvement would be to further drive home that point, while slightly leaving the door open for a story, but more on that in a minute.
Let me clarify by saying, CM Punk is one of my favorite wrestlers of all time. I've been a fan of his for nearly a decade and for a long time, he was the only reason I watched the WWE. However, the WWE has to respond to this situation in a strong manner.
For one, it needs to set a precedent for other wrestlers that this sort of behavior is not going to be tolerated. Secondly, if CM Punk does return to the company it provides a fantastic storyline opportunity for him.
Regardless of how the WWE actually portrays him, a large segment of fans are going to continue to chant for him, even while he's gone. If he ever returns, Punk will be able to immediately draw on his past experiences of trying to change the company and how this was the only option left.
He could say "I didn't desert the fans, I left for them. I tried to make change once by signing an extension and working with the system, but shortly after I made the product relevant again, you went right back to the way things used to be. Well I left to show you that fans want change and I am that change. Even after I was gone, they cheered for me.
"Why? Because I am the voice of the voiceless and I speak for these fans."
Yada, yada, yada.
Punk's return would launch once again into a feud with Cena, but this time they don't make it about a championship, you draw it out and make it about the two schools of wrestling fans. The ones who prefer the Cena's of the world versus the one would like Punk.
Either way, the WWE's message on the whole Punk situation must be strong and scathing. The hole left by Punk is huge and can't be filled overnight. CM Punk is justified in a lot of his reasons for leaving the company and I can't say I blame him for doing so.
The WWE is a business however and the show must go on, but that doesn't mean it has to act like the bad guy in this situation either.
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.
- Sports & Recreation
- CM Punk
- John Cena