RedEye has posted an article by Natalie Slater, CM Punk's high school girlfriend and one of his best friends. Titled "My Friend is Famous, and it Sucks," Punk's name is never mentioned, but he's clearly the subject; the friend is described as "the recently retired seven-time World Champion" among other things.
Let's get that out of the way first: Yes, one of CM Punk's oldest and dearest friends says he's retired. I guess that makes it official, regardless of how WWE has described his situation to investors ("on sabbatical") or in the roster directory used internally ("Injured/TBD"). After 15 years in wrestling and just short of nine with WWE, it looks like he's really called it quits.
Retired: adj. Having left one's job and ceased to work. It's accurate, dudes. Do you really think I published it without his OK?— Natalie (@bakeanddestroy) May 8, 2014
Anyway, Slater writes about just how uncomfortable Punk's life has gotten as of late:
- Due to constant fan stalking and harassment, Punk has become "one of the most isolated people [she's] ever known."
- A few weeks ago, he found fans camped out by his dumpster when he took out his trash. They had been waiting there for hours.
- A few days later, a young fan and his mother were shoving Easter candy through the mail slot of his front door.
- Slater "lives with the constant fear that someone's going to stab him."
- Still, Punk refuses to hire a bodyguard. When Slater suggested he do so, he said "That's stupid. What am I going to do, drag some guy around with me forever? Why can't people just leave me alone?"
The reaction I've seen to the article has been mixed and, honestly, very disappointing. Yes, Punk has a history of telling stories about his least-favorite fan encounters. He even worked them into his famous "Pipe Bomb" promo, singling out fans who camp out at the airport and shove a ton of photos in his face so he'll sign them and they can sell them on eBay.
For some reason, way too many comments I've seen, whether it's in the comment section of the article, on Reddit, or in the comments of other wrestling sites that linked the article, treat this as nothing different from the autograph seekers he's had to deal with.
That's ridiculous, and to see people think that's no big deal is scary. This isn't your "normal" obsessive autograph/celebrity hunting. This is outright stalking.
Just because Punk didn't do the best job of keeping the location of his loft a secret doesn't mean he's invited fans to hang out there. He loves Chicago and doesn't want to move to the suburbs. It doesn't mean he should be punished for it.
To me, it seems like the mystery around his situation has made fans' desire to see him more heightened and in some cases inappropriate. My understanding is that fans weren't coming to his home before.
Again, it's not his fault, but I find myself wondering if a statement of some kind would help. He's not a dumb guy, so it wouldn't shock me if he can't say anything until his WWE contract expires in July.
Of course, this incident from WrestleMania weekend shows that it doesn't take a lot for some wrestling fans to stampede over the line (And yes, the guy who took the photo is the one who put the text on there, which makes it all the more ridiculous.):
Meanwhile, a number of commenters have also called out Slater for hypocrisy or something because she's "using this to get famous" or used the editorial itself as a cash grab, usually referring to her with terms like "this woman." As she highlighted on Twitter, it's a 500-word piece in an alternative Chicago newspaper—how much do you think she made?
Well, the news is out. I'm buying Beats by Dre with all the money I made off that 500 word column for @redeyechicago— Natalie (@bakeanddestroy) May 9, 2014
She's known Punk for at least half of their lives. She's pretty well-known for her vegan cookbook that he did the forward for, and she's judged on the show Cupcake Wars. It comes off like some kind of weird, misogynistic deflection to avoid any of the points she made.
Her tweets quoting some of the negative feedback kind of say as much. I can't quote them directly or embed them here due to the language used, but there's a pattern of her being referred to as "jealous" and that one derogatory "c-word" that's used towards women. One commenter also told her to perform a certain sex act on him.
So let me get this straight: Whether you think CM Punk should come back to WWE or is too whiny for a millionaire or what, you decided the best way to express this was to call one of his dearest friends a bunch of hateful and vile names because she's worried he might be murdered by one of the very real stalkers he has.
No wonder he's fed up with wrestling.
As much as the burden shouldn't be on Punk—he's the victim of a very serious crime when it comes to the stalking—I'm not sure how this gets better as long as he's in his mysteriously disappeared state without an explanation. Maybe that explanation is coming in July, but if it's not, he may very well have to move out of his beloved Chicago and into the suburbs because there's no other way for him to leave the house.
Just because wrestling blurs the line and he prefers for a lot of people to call him by his wrestling name doesn't mean he's not a real person. He went home to avoid one type of stress and developed a whole new set of problems.
Let the guy rest.