Analysis: How we can tell that CM Punk “quitting” is a work, and how this will play out
CM Punk, ahem, “quit” WWE this week, walking out on Vince McMahon basically moments before Monday Night Raw was to go live on the air.
This has been the biggest news in wrestling in years. It’s hard to think of another instance of a superstar at the top of the mountain and in his prime just up and quitting his job.
A few have been suspicious of this since the news first hit overnight Monday night into Tuesday morning, and now the consensus opinion of the Internet Wrestling Community is that CM Punk “quitting” is a work.
It’s a hunch still for most, but here’s how you can go from having a hunch that this story is a work to feeling certain that it is.
Promos: The news from last night’s WWE house show in Wichita, Kan., is that The Shield cut an in-ring promo on CM Punk, saying that fans were lucky that he went home.
Interviews: Practically every WWE superstar interviewed by the various media outlets that have done pieces on WWE this week has been asked about the Punk situation, and has commented on it.
Not entirely gone from WWE.com: Punk is still listed in the Power Rankings on WWE.com at #9. And Punk is still listed on the main Superstars Profile page. Oversight?
To the last one first: as tightly controlled as the WWE ship is, no, there is no way Punk’s name is in the Power Rankings and on the Superstars page without there being some intent. Punk was removed from the live events section of the site, WWE is reportedly telling house show fans that they can get a refund for him not being on their live shows, but we’re going to leave him up on WWE.com in a couple of key areas just because? No way.
To the promos and interviews: Again, think of that tightly controlled WWE ship. If Punk really did just walk out on Vince McMahon and Raw, you’re talking about the ultimate public Stone Cold salute for Mr. McMahon. He’s going to guarantee the Punk situation gets even more headlines by letting his superstars add fuel to the fire by addressing the situation in print and radio interviews? To borrow from his entrance song now, No Chance in Hell.
Bottom line: Punk’s name is still being advertised, generally speaking, on the WWE website. This story about CM Punk quitting WWE is the most talked about story in wrestling maybe since the Monday Night Wars.
Punk needed some time off, as he’d been telling us himself in multiple interviews in the weeks leading up to him “quitting” WWE. He’s getting his time off now, and we’re getting a buildup to the WrestleMania 30 match that was supposedly in the works all along, CM Punk vs. Triple H, The Anti-Hero vs. The Authority, that WWE could never achieve by putting the two in a wrestling storyline.
We’ll see how disciplined creative can be on this. They’ve tried having CM Punk quit before, but had him come back way, way too soon. It looked, to borrow from Kevin Nash, “like wrestling.”
Punk needs to lay completely and totally low well into March, then “show up” backstage at a Monday Night Raw, not appearing on air, just there to be seen so that stories can be planted in the Internet wrestling medis.
Stories are planted and built on all week speculating that Punk and WWE have worked out a deal to have him wrestle Triple H at WM30 in exchange for an early release from his contract. Then, at the go home Monday Night Raw before WM30, Punk shows up at the end of the show, entrance music blaring, microphone in hand, a scowl on his face, says “I’m back!”, scans the crowd, looks like he has a lot more to say, but throws the mic to the ground, and stalks off.
WrestleMania 30 pay-per-view and WWE Network buys go through the roof.
Win or lose, Punk gets more time off, fueling speculation that he really did work out his contract with WWE at WM30, but of course he’ll be back after a longer break in time, maybe for SummerSlam, maybe, if they can be really patient up there in creative, the WrestleMania 31 season.
Column by Chris Graham