How CM Punk departed WWE drew criticism, but the reported reasons for him leaving the company are perfectly valid.
His timing was poor as WrestleMania is nearing and officials now have to scramble to rearrange their plans. He didn't continue working while he hashed out his differences. He reportedly gave no notice.
That doesn't make any of Punk's objections any less reasonable, though.
He's far from alone regarding his thoughts on how the Royal Rumble played out. That and what WWE had in mind for him at WrestleMania are reportedly what pushed him to make his hasty exit.
His opinion of where he belonged on the WWE totem pole simply didn't match up with how the company felt. The confidence that leads him to believe that he deserves more is a typical trait among the driven and successful.
The most commonly reported reason for Punk quitting is his disapproval of what WWE was planning for him at WrestleMania.
Triple H at WrestleMania
If Punk was insulted about working with Triple H, he's undervaluing what that match means. The issue, though, is likely that Punk felt he was ready for something even bigger.
You can't blame Punk for desiring the top spot. Having one's name on the WrestleMania marquee should be every WWE Superstar's goal.
The trouble is, there is only room for two wrestlers there every year.
Punk has been on the verge of headlining in the past. The WWE title bout is often the main event, but that wasn't the case at WrestleMania 28 when Punk and Chris Jericho's battle for the belt gave way to John Cena vs. The Rock.
The following year, Punk earned another lofty spot on the card, although it wasn't the final match of the night.
Punk attempted to break Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania. That match is arguably as prestigious as the WWE Championship bout.
It's understandable that Punk would now perceive anything other than WrestleMania's main event as a lateral move. It's the one thing he hasn't done at that show yet.
Triple H's WrestleMania matches are no midcard filler, but they aren't as anticipated as Undertaker's annual defense of his streak or the battle for the company's top championship. Punk seemed to believe that he was worthy of something bigger than taking on "The Game" and one could easily make the argument to back that thought process up.
Punk is one of the most popular wrestlers on the roster as seen by the fervent chants for him even after he quit the company.
He's also been highly productive in the ring, composing excellent work on a regular basis. On WWE.com's list of 2013's top 25 matches, Punk appears five times, including the No. 3 and No. 1 spot.
If Punk believed this to be his last WrestleMania, it's not surprising that he was reportedly frustrated at seeing someone else get the coveted main event spot, especially if that spot went to a person who has been absent from the company for four years.
Batista at the Royal Rumble
In WWE's world, WrestleMania is the Super Bowl. Superstars work tirelessly to ascend the company ladder in order to get a prime spot at the event.
Punk apparently felt that he had worked hard enough to achieve that honor. It had to be absolutely maddening to see a man who hasn't taken a bump and hasn't been subjected to WWE's grueling schedule surpass him.
Imagine if Denver Broncos coach John Fox had told Peyton Manning leading up to the Super Bowl, "We appreciate what you've done, but we're going with Brett Favre instead."
According to TMZ.com, Punk was unhappy that Batista was being sent straight up to the mountaintop:
Punk was livid when he learned officials scripted Batista to win the Royal Rumble ... because he feels Batista isn't in great wrestling shape and shouldn't be featured in the title match at the upcoming WrestleMania (the biggest event of the year).
WWE is right to value star power. It's a recipe for financial success.
Folks may have griped about The Rock headlining two WrestleManias instead of the guys who have been with the company, toiling in the ring every night, but those events brought in major dough. WrestleMania 28 generated $102.7 million for the city of Miami. Over a million fans ordered WrestleMania 29 on pay-per-view, per WrestleZone.com.
Batista is not The Rock, though.
"The Animal" will certainly be a boost to WrestleMania's numbers, but The Rock is a far bigger mainstream star who peaked in WWE's most pined-for era. Batista pushing aside Punk and Daniel Bryan has to be upsetting for those two guys.
Punk told fans at a Comic Con in January, "This is Daniel Bryan's year."
Fans clearly felt the same way. As Aaron Oster of The Baltimore Sun writes of how the Royal Rumble ended, "Batista winning wasn't the shocking part. The shocking part of the scene was the mostly united crowd raining boos down on him."
Bringing back the former world champ was a great idea, but elevating him so high was a mistake.
As hot as Bryan is right now, to go with Batista as the headliner instead is baffling. Punk's thoughts on this are aligned with how many fans feel.
Does the Royal Rumble decision combined with a perceived slight in terms of WrestleMania booking justify Punk's decision to leave? That depends on who you ask.
As much as WWE Superstars put their bodies through every day for the sake of our entertainment, it's hard to criticize one of them for walking away, regardless of the reason for leaving.
His criticism of Batista's placement is spot on. His reported frustration over working with Triple H at "The Showcase of the Immortals" is understandable. Beyond those issues, Punk just seemed to be burnt out with the WWE grind.
No one can fault him for that.
It's his issues with WWE officials that have caused a stir. Wrestlers and bookers having differing opinions is expected. Fans may believe that Punk overreacted over those differences, but he has a wealth of logic on his side.
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