CM Punk might have proven that he’s better than the WWE, but has he proven he’s better than the wrestling industry as a whole?
In this subjective world, we’re allowed to be hypocrites. After all, I initially thought Punk was a sell-out for joining UFC. Of course, Dana White uses the same tricks as Vince McMahon when it comes to selling his product; they tell a story to generate further interest in the fight, whether it be orchestrated or not. So when ‘Chick Magnet Punk’ lambasted an overly-scripted programme like WWE, I felt it somewhat ironic when he eventually joined UFC. Yet, when given time to think about it, I’ve come to realise he’s more “punk rock” than ever for doing what he believes is best for himself, even if WE don’t think it’s what’s best.
Guys like Cody Rhodes and even DDP are proof that WWE is not the pinnacle of one’s career, in or out of the squared circle. Having forged a career over in NJPW, Cody is now the hottest name in wrestling alongside the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega. Highlighting the fact you can make just as much (if not more) money by marketing yourself properly once life with WWE comes to an end. Similarly, Diamond Dallas Page has also had great success away from WWE as a yoga instructor. The former WCW champion has gone on to develop a yoga fitness program, taking it from a book into a series of workout videos, where he also contributed towards rehabilitating the lives of both Jake Roberts and Scott Hall.
We can’t ignore the fact Punk suffered far worse than anyone has with the company and his reasons for not wanting to wrestle again are certainly justified. During the recent defamation trial, it became very clear how much his treatment in WWE impacted his decision to walk away from sports entertainment in 2014. It’s on record that he isn’t remotely interested in wrestling again, and that period of his life physically and mentally broke him.
Even so, this still doesn’t stop people from speculating about his future. Punk has now lost 2 straight matches within the UFC, all but surely confirming he is no longer a star attraction for the company. His age and lack of experience compared to even newcomers to the circuit (seriously, most of them already have black belts in some disciplines), demonstrates that the odds of him ever winning a professional match in the UFC are very slim at best. Despite his personal achievements of creating what he feels is a better life for himself, there are those (looking at you Corey Graves) who believe the former Ring of Honor star has turned his back on friends by sticking with UFC.
If he was to return to wrestling, he wouldn’t necessarily have to even wrestle again. Whether you like him or not, the man’s name is a huge draw in pro wrestling. His creative genius alone would be enough to see him work well in NJPW or ROH as a booker, commentator or trainer. Let’s not forget how great his mic work is. And I’m not even talking about that Pipebomb. His time at the Raw announce desk from November to December 2010 is one of the highlights of his tenure within the corporation, and more than suggests he is capable of play by play analysis as part of the English speaking commentary team in Japan.
During his Ring of Honor tenure, Punk worked with the likes of AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and Daniel Bryan (then Bryan Danielson), all of which are now working for WWE. His 5-star match with Joe, in particular, was what eventually created enough buzz to bring him into WWE. It’s clear to see the influence he has had on forging the pathway for his peers and how he has changed the game for many of the other indie darlings to find their place in the company.
Easing his way back into the business with a relaxed schedule as a talent scout or booker might give Punk a newfound appreciation of the finer things he used to enjoy about wrestling. As September draws near, All In weekend will be a good indication of how he truly feels about the business as a whole and not just the WWE who certainly did their best to distort his opinion on the sport he grew to resent.
For as long as CM Punk remains outside of wrestling, people will speculate about his future. He might eventually come to the conclusion that he was born to be a pro wrestler or be content on chasing his first UFC win. We should respect his decision whatever he goes on to do, as he’s worked damn hard to get to where he is today.