CM Punk has been one of WWE's top workhorses over the past several years, but the bumps, bruises and politics may finally be catching up with "The Best in the World."
According to F4WOnline.com (via WrestlingInc.com), Punk told Vince McMahon at the Jan. 27 Raw event that he was going home, and he has since been removed from future shows, including the Jan. 28 SmackDown taping.
Although there has been no confirmation from Punk or others close to the situation, former WWE Superstar and current independent wrestling sensation Matt Hardy commented on the possibility of Punk leaving the company.
Whether or not Punk actually took his ball and went home, Hardy's comments likely ring true regarding the toll that professional wrestling takes.
In a recent interview with Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com, Punk revealed that his WWE contract expires in six months. When asked if he intended to re-sign with the company, Punk didn't have a concrete answer.
I don't know. It's up in the air. If I say 'yes' and I don't, then I was lying. If I say 'no' and then I re-sign I was full of (expletive). Three years ago I was out the door, I was 100 percent not re-signing, so now just to avoid a little bit of deja vu, I'm just going to dance around that question.
Even without a definitive answer, Punk's response was somewhat telling since leaving WWE after six months definitely appears to be an option that he is weighing. If Punk's rumored exchange with McMahon is true, however, then perhaps he simply couldn't wait any longer.
Punk is known for being outspoken and even critical at times, so it's possible that he isn't happy with his current place in the product. After holding the WWE Championship for a modern-era record 434 days, Punk dropped the belt to The Rock at Royal Rumble 2013. Punk hasn't sniffed the title scene since then, and he has bounced around from feud to feud with the likes of Paul Heyman, Ryback, Curtis Axel, The Shield, The New Age Outlaws and Kane in recent months.
Punk's most recent in-ring work came in the Royal Rumble match on Jan. 26 when he entered No. 1 and lasted nearly 50 minutes before Kane sneaked onto the apron and pulled him over the top rope.
While Punk is known as a straight shooter, he also tends to send out some cryptic tweets on Twitter. That was the case on the morning after the Royal Rumble as he thanked his fans:
That could have been a farewell message, but it could have been a harmless message to his followers as well. As is often the case in professional wrestling, the lines between fantasy and reality are blurred.
To play devil's advocate, it is entirely possible that this entire thing is a work perpetrated by Punk and those in charge. From a storyline perspective, it would make sense for Punk to walk out on WWE.
He was unfairly forced to enter the Royal Rumble match at No. 1, and he was eliminated by a Superstar who had already been eliminated earlier in the match. If the plan is for Punk to face Triple H at WrestleMania XXX, as has been rumored by PWInsider Elite (via WrestlingInc.com), then this would absolutely play into the angle.
It can be explained that Punk left after getting fed up with The Authority, but it would then lead to a triumphant return for an opportunity to give Triple H what he has coming to him at WrestleMania.
Also, with Punk's contract winding down, this may be WWE's plan to rehash and improve upon the "Summer of Punk" angle that made Punk a massive star back in 2011.
Losing Punk would be a major setback for WWE due to his popularity with the fans and ability to put on great matches with just about any wrestler, but this certainly wouldn't be the first time that Punk, McMahon, et al have pulled the wool over the eyes of the fans with a well-executed angle.
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