The Ballad of C.M. Punk

Mark Madden

ballad of cm punkMost of you seem content to let C.M. Punk go away.

I’m not going to let that happen.

I’m not jonesing for Punk’s return to WWE TV. (I prefer NXT to Raw, anyway. Didn’t take long to figure out that NXT is better, and William Regal is WWE’s best announcer. Makes JBL seem moronic, not that that’s difficult.) I don’t think Punk let anybody down, and I don’t necessarily think WWE let Punk down.

But Punk’s departure is intriguing. Punk left money on the table. Big money. That goes against the wrestler’s credo which is, in one word, GREED.

Why did he leave? Why did Punk walk? I’ve conjectured. But none of us really know, and Punk isn’t talking. If he is, his friends aren’t leaking.

WWE’s Punk DVD is fascinating. It goes inside Phil Brooks, the man, as legitimately as any WWE release. I’ve had Punk on my radio show three times, once in studio. I talked to him backstage a few times when he was working indies, including once before a barnburner with Eddie Guerrero (then suspended by WWE) on an IWC show in Pittsburgh.

Once, via phone, Punk was a bit surly. He has that rep. But that was the exception. I wouldn’t call Punk gracious, and he’s certainly not a PR hound or ass-kisser.

What Punk is, is honest. He represents whatever he feels at that moment.

Perhaps that’s the root of his departure.

I worked in wrestling for eight years. I loved it. Still do, and I’m sure Punk still does. But wrestling is a business built on a lie. That’s the very foundation. As a result, it’s populated with liars. You lie so much, you don’t know when to stop. Even some of my very best friends at WCW were constantly working. That doesn’t make them bad people. It just makes them wrestlers.

It’s easy to get sick of that. I bet Punk did.

There is backstage resentment toward Punk at WWE, and always has been. In the land of liars, the honest man is ostracized. I’ve often said that the last thing those who run wrestling want around is someone who knows more than they do. Punk is exactly that. He has the business clocked. He has the boys clocked. He has the McMahons clocked. And he knew exactly what he wanted out of wrestling.

If you’re composed of cow flop, that makes it easier to wallow in it. If you’re made of something better, the smell gets to you after a while.

Punk is made of something better. One morning he woke up and said, F this.

I’M STRAIGHT EDGE! THAT MEANS I’M BETTER THAN YOU!

Saving money is wonderful. Living within your means is amazing. Stabilizing your future is awesome. You do all that, you’re impervious. Punk didn’t grow up with much. People like him, given chance, usually don’t leave themselves vulnerable.

You will stop chanting Punk’s name. He won’t care. Punk knows what he did. He doesn’t need anyone to remind him. Look at him. Punk beat the odds. The deck was stacked against him. Even though Vince McMahon made money from Punk, the aggravation undoubtedly still burned. THAT GUY? THAT SKINNY GUY?

I wish I knew Punk better. He’s a man with conviction. It’s good to know people like that. Sometimes it rubs off. He beat the system. He’s not a mark. I admire that.

Prospering in wrestling – in any entertainment field and probably any job, period – is about loving it, but understanding it, and never letting it be more than a job. Wrestling damages your health long-term, no doubt – but you try to minimize that if you’re not a mark. Wrestling can instill bad habits, but they’re avoidable.  You need passion, certainly. But don’t let passion make you stupid.

Punk fits that description. He banged so many divas, too. He’s a REAL MAN.

WrestleMania isn’t holy ground. It’s just a big payday, and it’s bigger for McMahon than it is anyone else. Wrestling isn’t real. You don’t win anything. You learn, you perform, you improve, you have fun and, with any luck and common sense, you get out with a retirement plan, your sanity, your health and your life.

That’s all that matters. Ask C.M. Punk. He knows.

P.S. – Yo, Vince: With PPV bonuses eliminated, do the boys get a cut of the WWE Network? How about the new TV deal? Somebody needs to keep asking.

Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkMaddenX

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