Former WWE wrestler CM Punk has definitely gotten a few headlines in the last couple of weeks, when he finally decided to talk about why he left WWE back in January. To many WWE fans, Punk’s comments explain everything that’s presently wrong with WWE, and confirm every wrestling fans’ worst nightmare about the direction of WWE.
There were some timeline issues with Punk’s comments, but Punk should get the benefit of the doubt due to the amount of concussions he’s suffered, and due to his brutal schedule while he was with WWE.
One of the timeline issues with Punk’s comments is when he talks about wanting to walk friend and UFC fighter Chael Sonnen to the octagon when Sonnen fought Michael Bisping in Punk’s hometown of Chicago, on January 28, 2012. On top of Punk saying McMahon was worried that someone will die in the octagon, Punk also said that McMahon was also appalled at the fact that the UFC would be having women fighting in the octagon very soon.
At that time, Dana White, the UFC president, was still very against having women fight in the UFC, and there was no sign that White would ever change his opinion. Now, there’s one of two things happening here. Either McMahon isn’t as “out of touch” as Punk says he is, and knew back then that the UFC would eventually have women fighting in the octagon, or Punk is blending two separate conversations with McMahon together.
There are also some issues with what Vince McMahon had to say about the CM Punk situation when he was on “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s podcast on Monday. In many people’s opinion, McMahon didn’t come out of the podcast looking very good.
When Austin asked McMahon about Punk, McMahon offered an apology to Punk for WWE sending Punk his termination papers on Punk’s wedding day. McMahon claimed that it was a complete coincidence.
“I would like to apologize. In a big corporation, the legal people don’t know what the talent relations people do. He got his severance papers on the day he got married, and that was a coincidence. I want to personally apologize.”
Punk didn’t buy McMahon’s apology, and said on yesterday’s podcast with Colt Cabana that if McMahon was really sorry, McMahon should have called him back in June and apologized to him like a man, instead of doing damage control on a live podcast just a couple of days after Punk made that story public.
McMahon did seem hesitant to bash CM Punk on Austin’s podcast. However, most believe that McMahon would have loved nothing more than to really go after CM Punk. Of course, it’s likely that Punk would come out of a back and forth with McMahon looking a lot better than McMahon would.
“I’m not going to wash the dirty laundry in public. There are a lot of things he may regret some day looking back and I hope one day we could get together. You [Austin] and I did, Hogan, oh brother, Ultimate Warrior, I try to give the audience what they want, what’s best for business.”
Giving the audience what they want is something that McMahon and WWE have been struggling to do for some time now. Punk’s description of McMahon, calling him an “out of touch old man” is pretty much right on the money. If you’re still unsure if you’ll go that far, well, McMahon did tell Punk that the original WrestleMania 31 main-event of Randy Orton vs. Batista would be “the greatest WrestleMania main-event of all-time.”
There are two things that Punk said that are really troubling, and hopefully both issues will get resolved very soon.
First, and probably most notable, is WWE’s medical staff.
When Punk talked about having a staph infection for just over three months, and WWE’s doctor refusing to do anything about it, and not being able to properly diagnose it, that’s cause for concern.
WWE’s doctor clearing Punk for in-ring competition over the phone right after Punk had elbow surgery is a major cause for concern. It does seem like WWE is still rushing their performers to get back into the ring, even though publicly they make it seem like the health of their performers comes first.
The most troubling thing is how WWE is handling concussions. According to Punk, they’re still trying to rush people back, even though they know the potential risks and repercussions of bringing someone back too soon after a concussion.
Remember how Fandango was getting a pretty big push leading up to WrestleMania 29? Well, he got a concussion soon after his big WrestleMania win over Chris Jericho, and couldn’t return to in-ring action when WWE wanted him to. So what did WWE do when he came back? They buried him. Yes, now he’s the “new and improved” Fandango — whatever that means — and yes, he probably was never going to be a game-changing main-event talent. But something like that is a huge problem.
Dr. Joseph Maroon, who works very closely with WWE, offered this statement after Punk’s initial podcast with Colt Cabana.
“WWE takes the health and wellness of its talent very seriously and has a comprehensive Talent Wellness Program that is led by one of the most well-respected physicians in the country.”
Second, is WWE calling its performers independent contractors?
As an independent contractor, you shouldn’t be told when to show up, where to show up, and be punished for not showing up.
So if Punk was truly an independent contractor, he could, if he wanted to, do a show or two for TNA. Also, no company when they bring in an independent contractor can put a non-compete clause in their contract should they choose to leave.
Punk claimed that WWE settled on the lawsuit Punk filed against WWE because WWE was terrified that Punk was going to come after them on the independent contractor agreement WWE has with all of their performers.
If you look at how WWE treats all of their performers, they should be company employees. But McMahon and WWE save money by not having their performers be put under the employee banner.
McMahon’s decision to not go into any kind of great detail in regards to the CM Punk situation really makes himself and WWE look bad. However, McMahon could be choosing to stay out of the fight because he knows Punk has him beat, as McMahon has never been shy about going after past performers in which he felt he had the upper-hand on.
It’s probably safe to say that, for the most part, WWE fans are on team CM Punk.
[Image via WWE]