For the first time since leaving the WWE in January, CM Punk publicly discussed what led him to leave the company.
As Punk tells it, there were several reasons why he left WWE, but the main reason was his health. He was recovering from multiple injuries — his elbow and knees were problematic and required surgery — and he was pushed back to the ring earlier than his recommended recovery time by Vince McMahon. He got sick of his status with the company, as well as his poor health (which he says was disregarded by the company) and he decided to finally walk away.
McMahon described Punk’s departure as a “sabbatical.” The organization officially released him from the organization on June 13, the day of his wedding to AJ Lee.
Punk joined “The Art of Wrestling” with pro wrestler Colt Cabana this week and talked about all his problems.
“There’s a lot of assumption out there that I was disgruntled with my storylines. (There was an assumption that) I was banged up. I was mad that I wasn’t the main event of WrestleMania. I was mad that I was wrestling Triple H … there’s an element of truth in all of those things, but I can’t say there was one big thing that led to my decision. Actually, the big thing that led to my decision was my health,” Punk told Cabana.
Punk was pushed through elbow and knee injuries, and he says the WWE did not give him proper care for a big lump on his back.
Beyond the medical issues, there were many other small things that added up and made Punk bitter towards the WWE.
Punk told Cabana that he wanted sponsors and thought he deserved them, but was turned down. Then he would see another wrestler like Brock Lesnar, who was allowed to have them. Additionally, he recalled wanting to walk Chael Sonnen to the octagon for a UFC fight and was told he couldn’t Then he saw a famous wrestler walk Floyd Mayweather to the ring for a boxing fight. He felt that was another example of other wrestlers having special privileges to which he wasn’t entitled.
Punk felt underpaid based on the value he brought to the company. He was sick of McMahon constantly asking him for favors without ever repaying him. He says he really wanted to wrestle in the main event at WrestleMania and was disappointed that his dream never happened.
“It seemed like there was never really a place for me in that company,” a disillusioned Punk feels.
To put things over the top, Punk was particularly irked that the WWE deliberately fired him on his wedding day. That move drove Punk to contact a lawyer to help him get a royalty check the company owed him but was stalling about paying. Punk says he got everything he wanted from the company through the suit.
When Punk informed McMahon that he wanted out of the WWE, he had some powerful words for the wrestling boss.
“You have shackled me, you have creatively stifled me, you have made this a very toxic environment. I no longer want to be here,” Punk recalls telling McMahon.
Punk also is at peace with his decision to leave the WWE and wrestling as a whole.
“WWE didn’t make me who I am. WWE was a pit stop and I will not be defined by what I do for a living. I don’t think anybody should be.
“I was miserable, I was unhappy, f— it, I left. I made myself happy. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but it was a long time coming.”
Below you can listen to the entire podcast. Some of the language is foul.