CM Punk and his current situation is such a sad affair.
Punk is arguably the most compelling and captivating figure in professional wrestling today, both inside the ring and outside of it. When he speaks, you listen. Whether good, bad, or indifferent, I usually eat up every word that spews from his sharp-tongued mouth.
He may not be the in-ring performer he once was, which is perfectly fine considering his age, but he has proved that his in-ring performances are still highly enjoyable affairs.
Bar his accidental guard rail injury, his on-screen work has been a success. Week in and week out, regardless of who he is wrestling with or cutting a promo on, he was a joy to behold. And Punk seemed happy if his promos were anything to go by. He repeatedly spoke about how he missed the crowd’s buzz and constantly reminded the fans how much he loves being the center of attention inside the squared circle. The marriage of CM Punk and professional wrestling was back on.
But then the honeymoon period ended.
The thing about Punk, whether you love him or loath him, is that he is a bitter bastard. What a bitter bastard he is. When Punk feels wronged, the feeling of being slighted will grow and uncontrollably fester within him.
And boy, did he feel wronged.
When Punk joined All Elite Wrestling, his former friendship with Scott Colton/Colt Cabana was always going to be a hot topic. This friendship is a prime example of how a grudge can fester and ruin everything. Punk and Colt were best of buds once upon a time, and it all ended after another of Punk’s grudges ultimately split them up.
Punk had a massive gripe with his former employer, WWE, and how badly he perceived they treated him. According to Punk, WWE allegedly gave him substandard medical care, which caused him to walk out on the company in 2014. Punk did not return and was fired on his wedding day. Another part of the gripe is how Punk was never treated as the top star in WWE, despite believing he was the ”best in the world.” Punk then aired all these grievances on the Art of Wrestling podcast, hosted by his best pal Colt Cabana. WWE sued him and Colt for defemination and a dispute about legal fees broke the two men up.
Ultimately, Punk’s grudge against WWE, whether justified or not, cost him his best friend. No matter how you spin it, his war with WWE cost him a lifelong friendship. He didn’t have to publicly air his alleged mistreatment, but he felt wronged and couldn’t let it go. In the end, the WWE machine kept on turning without him, and he was left with his friendship with Cabana in tatters. Punk’s failure to move on cost him big.
Years later, Colt is working happily in AEW after years of working on the indies and it’s announced that CM Punk will join Tony Khan’s promotion. It was only natural for everyone to wonder how they would co-exist. Would enough time have passed for time to heal the wounds? Would they avoid each other and be cordial and amicable? Could they co-exist?
It’s obvious now that they didn’t bury the hatchet, probably a waste of a good hatchet, says Punk (probably). Over the past year, they looked to be at least able to go about their business separately, with Punk soaring high on AEW television, while Colt would continue to be used when required. But rumors of Colt being phased out by AEW management and being frequently absent from tapings would suffice in 2022. There were also stories about Colt’s AEW contract being allowed to expire and that had it not been for the intervention of some AEW top talent, Cabana and AEW would have parted ways.
Many speculated that either Punk had a hand in this or that Colt’s absence directly resulted from him signing with AEW. Either way, Cabana was resigned but still absent from AEW television.
Then came the All Out media scrum, and it was at this point the honeymoon period firmly ended and the marriage of AEW. The “in-love” with professional wrestling side of CM Punk was nowhere to be seen and the bitter, grudge-holding Punk was truly unleashed to the public. We did see a snippet of this during his feud with Jon Moxley, as he decided to vent his displeasure with former champion Hangman Adam Page, but this was full on hell hath no fury like a Punk scorned. He was 100 percent scorched earth Punk. And boy did he scorch that earth.
Punk was due to discuss his AEW World title win, which headlined the PPV, but he had other plans. All his anger and resentment that clearly had been festering for the past year and decade came flowing out of his blood-soaked body. He aimed at his former friend Colt Cabana, Hangman Adam Page, WWE, and even The Elite, whom he believed was responsible for leaking stories to the press relating to Colt Cabana’s AEW absence. No word about his title victory, his future, or his opponent was all about him, and the self-perceived injustice others have bestowed on him.
From there, it all went wrong for Punk, and his grudges once again got the better of him.
We all know about the aftermath. We all have heard about the biting, the punch-throwing, and the helpless dog rescue. And it appears that we know what the future holds to a degree. The Elite appears to be returning to AEW TV. Whether it’s cooler heads prevailing or Tony Khan eating humble pie, Kenny Omega and the Jackson brothers are headed back to work either way.
But Punk isn’t.
Reports about a contract buyout and a non-compete clause suggest Punk is done with AEW and perhaps done with professional wrestling until the length of what would have been his contract passes. Once again, CM Punk, whether right or wrong, is the big loser here.
The Elite gets to return, AEW will keep on rolling even if it misses the work Punk produced, and even Colt Cabana is now in from the cold to a degree. Yet it’s Punk, the many who loves a good grudge, who won’t be wrestling anytime soon.
Things could have been different for Punk if he wasn’t so fond of having a self-imposed chip on his shoulder. He could have been working in WWE, living what once would have been his dream to main event WrestleMania. He could still be pals with Colt Cabana. He could be wrestling in AEW, a place that appeared to allow him to be the best version of himself in professional wrestling.
He could hypothetically still return to AEW if he could be even the slightest bit amicable. There is a lot of wrong in this situation, and conflict can be a great opportunity to resolve issues. Get him, Tony, The Elite, and Colt in a room, and they could salvage this shitstorm. But I can’t see Punk ever giving an inch here. A Punk vs. Elite program could be lightning in a bottle and slam dunk program. Yet, Punk can’t or won’t make amends. And amends he needs to make. Regardless of whether the was right about Hangman going into business for himself, or the Bucks leaking stories, he was completely and utterly wrong in how he acted at the press scrum. But because he believes he was right, he presumably won’t come to the table.
It’s such a shame.
Punk didn’t have to air his grievance with WWE on a podcast, he could have buried the hatchet with Colt and he could have ignored any stories leaked to the wrestling media. But when Punk is wronged, he can’t help himself from going nuclear.
To be fair to Punk, he initially looked capable of channeling his WWE grudge into motivation to make him succeed in AEW. Without his grudge against WWE, a grudge that he still clearly holds to this day, judging by many of his comments the past year, he probably wouldn’t have been itching to join AEW one year ago. What better way to stick it to Vince, Hunter, and the company than by making their competitors successful? I am a big fan of Punk’s on-screen work, and it was wonderful to see him thrive as an on-screen persona in a new environment.
Sadly Punk is probably now on his couch, claiming he is happy and feeling a sense of justification. Punk always feels he is right all of the time and when he believes he is in the right, he is too stubborn to back down or let go and move on. Whether he admits it to himself or others, the reality is that he has lost the most from all of this unnecessary unpleasantness and we may never see him wrestle again.
Can he return to WWE? Of course, he can, but it’s far from simple.
WWE, remember, are on CM Punk’s enemy list. They did do him dirty, and he holds a special place in his heart for this grudge. Triple H, or the “doofus son-in-law” as Punk once dubbed him, is now the big cheese down in the WWE cracker factory, and he and Punk aren’t big fans of each other. But it’s pro wrestling and never say never, especially when boatloads of money can help smooth things over. He also has the motivation to further his most recent grudge with The Elite and AEW if he joins WWE.
But how sad would it be for Punk to join WWE, leaving that grudge in the past finally, to spite others? Could he not bury the hatchet with Colt, his once best friend, than the company who fired him on his wedding day? On the very podcast in which he denounced WWE, Punk stated, “Team Colt Forever.”
How sad is it that he could return to the company that split his best friendship apart viciously?
I don’t see him returning to WWE. Personally, he would probably like to hold as many grudges as possible simultaneously. Then again, it’s wrestling, and I will never rule it out despite my thinking it’s highly unlikely. Money and the opportunity to spite Cabana and co could motivate him, but he would also look like a giant hypocrite by crawling back to WWE. There is also the matter of any non-compete clause in any buyout agreed with AEW, if one ever gets agreed. I’d personally keep paying him to sit at home rather than let him go to WWE anytime soon.
Either way, Punk remains the ultimate loser in all of this. His refusal to let go of his baggage has crippled his ability to live life well. If he is ever to succeed, he must let go before becoming a bitter, resentful old man wishing he had done things differently.
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