Most wrestlers need wrestling. CM Punk is not most wrestlers.
Wrestling fans are buzzing about a report from F4Wonline.com (via WrestlingInc.com) that states Punk supposedly told Vince McMahon he's done and going home.
This would explain why there was no sighting or mention of him on Raw this past Monday. He's also been pulled from future live-event advertisements.
The No. 1 question: Is this real or a work?
The live-event advertisements is not a good sign for those wanting Punk to be back on television soon. WWE doesn't like having top Superstars advertised who aren't going to be there. We've seen in the past when John Cena or Daniel Bryan haven't been able to make live events due to injury, WWE will offer refunds. Punk is certainly on the same level in terms of babyface star power with Bryan and Cena.
I don't know Punk personally. I've only been around him a few times, nothing more. I do have good relationships with several people who do know him well. Based on this, it's always been my opinion that his patience with WWE has been running thin for quite some time.
When I heard the news that Punk had taken his ball and gone home, it didn't surprise me at all. In fact, it connected some dots.
After watching Monday Night Raw, it seemed WWE certainly did some last-minute scrambling and called a few audibles. Royal Rumble winner Batista was barely featured on the show. Daniel Bryan was in the face of Triple H regarding being held down. No mention of Punk. No mention of Kane, the Superstar it seemed Punk would have a match with before getting to his inevitable match against Triple H at WrestleMania.
For something to be a work, there has to be a payoff. Right now, with how it seems like WWE is scrambling to rearrange the WrestleMania booking, there doesn't appear to be a payoff.
All of this walking out doesn't necessarily mean we've seen the last of Punk, but I do think at the moment he is sincere in his actions.
Punk has said that his current contract expires in July (via Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com). If Punk does stay home for the next few weeks or months, this could be the ultimate amount of leverage for him if he wanted to return under a new contract.
Punk is the type of wrestler who doesn't fit in WWE's system. He's a guy who can think for himself and is at a point where he doesn't need the company. He has strong beliefs regarding wrestling booking and presentation, and he will tell you so. He's also earned the financial security to not have to depend on his name selling for another 10 years.
In October of 2012, I wrote how Punk wasn't going to be around wrestling forever and that I expected him to be retired by 2015. He's always said that he wants to headline WrestleMania. That's the only thing left for him to do.
Riding town to town, doing press, dealing with creative politics—he doesn't need it anymore. If he sees that being the headliner at WrestleMania isn't going to happen, there's no use continuing doing things he doesn't like.
The irony is that, in his heart, he loves wrestling more than most. It's that passion and his strong personality that makes him able to walk away.
In reality, what match is going to fulfill his goal and make Punk the headline match at WrestleMania?
He's already worked with The Undertaker, but they couldn't get billed higher than The Rock in the title match. He's gone to WrestleMania as the WWE champion against Chris Jericho and wasn't a part of the headline. A dream match with the likes of a Stone Cold Steve Austin is about the only match I can see putting him in the top, marquee spot.
If Punk returning to WWE is hindered on Austin getting back in the ring—wow, what a story. There's more irony that can be added to this situation when you remember that Austin once took his ball and went home for a year back in 2002 before finishing his in-ring career a year later at WrestleMania.
If this is a work, it's a work only Punk is in on. Maybe he knows he will be back and what he will ask WWE for to make him happy.
But right now, as far as everyone else is concerned, I think this is a legitimate situation of a guy who walks to the beat of his own drum—a drum he has taken home with him.
Justin LaBar is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He also is the creator of the Chair Shot Reality video talk show and Wrestling Reality radio show. He's been featured by various outlets including several appearances on NBC Sports, recognized as a lead wrestling analyst in the country.