CM Punk is going to be taking time off after his WrestleMania 29 showdown with The Undertaker. An injury has hampered the former champion bad enough that he needs to step away from the rigors of the ring to heal.
The WWE hasn’t said a word storyline-wise or other about why Punk isn’t wrestling. In an age where backstage news is available 24 hours a day, why is there so much secrecy around Punk's injury?
The injury was first reported after his Monday Night Raw bout against Kane. The referee threw up the "X" symbol, the WWE's universal sign for a legitimate injury, several times during the bout. The WWE kept the cameras away every time the referee did this.
Punk finished the bout and the at-home audience was no wiser about the injury. But hours after Raw went off the air, the news was out that Punk was hurt. It was the live audience that spread the word to the news sites.
The wrestling world is full of guys who tape up whatever is ailing them and step back through the ropes day in and day out. Guys like Rey Mysterio have a history of knee problems. Triple H wrestled with a torn quad. Cena tore his pectoral muscle during a bout and still finished the contest.
At any live event or televised program, wrestlers have elbows, knees and shoulders taped. In his last televised match, Punk taped his elbow fatter than a football.
Not acknowledging a top star's injury on television so close to WrestleMania is understandable. But once that star is pulled from all live appearances before and after the event, with no real word as to why, things begin to look weird.
What is going on with Punk?
The Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Wrestlinginc.com) noted the rumored severity of Punk's injury, as well as backstage reports that there may be something else going on. They wrote:
There continues to be suspicion within WWE on CM Punk's status. Some believe he's hurt worse than anyone is letting on because everyone asked is denying any injury. There are reports of this having to do with creative frustration or burnout and more nagging minor injuries than a major injury.
The same report even notes that Punk will not be appearing at May's Extreme Rules pay-per-view.
If Punk is suffering from creative burnout, then why pull him from everything, before and after WrestleMania, all the way past the next pay-per-view? Taking a guy off television to refresh his character is not new. But pulling him from events during the buildup to WrestleMania is.
Perhaps those nagging injuries, besides his arm, also include his knee. That's the one he had surgery on at the end of 2012 before rushing back into the ring against Ryback just weeks after going under the knife.
The whole secrecy about his injury gives off the impression that the WWE is hiding something bigger with Punk.
The wrestling world has long since passed the days when problems with performers could be hidden by just not talking about it. The WWE itself has worked to break down that wall between reality and the ring.
Superstars tweet pictures of themselves outside the ring. Backstage Tout videos further storylines as much as they turn wrestlers into reality celebrities who show tidbits about their personal lives.
Punk is a big enough star in the WWE that his absence from all events is going to be noticed. Even a compelling storyline reason, if one is given, won't be enough to cover up the news that Punk is suffering physically and possibly creatively.
In the age of reality programming, the WWE needs to keep it real with the fans.