Former WWE champion CM Punk has finally opened up for the first time about his decision to part ways with the company almost a year after taking his leave altogether.
Speaking on Colt Cabana’s podcast The Art of Wrestling (h/t Wrestle Zone’s Mike Killam), Punk (real name Phillip Brooks) told of his tensions with WWE owner Vince McMahon and the reasons behind his January 2014 exit:
People tweet me all the time that you can’t change [the company] from your couch in Chicago. I absolutely disagree, because that’s exactly what I did. When I split in January, they changed everything. Part of me thinks they changed a lot to spite me, and that’s fine, because certain people who deserved certain things, at certain times, got those things. And that’s something I never got.
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I’m the f****** happiest I’ve been in at least three years. I thought this thing that I loved, that I thought I loved, it just made me so miserable all the time. When you boil it all down, I was miserable. I was unhappy. F*** it, I made myself happy. I left. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but it was also a long time coming.
Daniel Bryan was the man to benefit from Punk’s decision, according to Killam, after he got two matches at Wrestlemania 30.
One of those was a world title shot after beating Triple H, a bout that reports at the time stated would have featured Punk instead of Bryan.
The ex-WWE star had always been held in high regard for his mic skills and goes on to tell of his creative input being shot down by McMahon, whom he alleges showed mixed favorability among his wrestlers:
I’m talking to Vince, and I tell him that since I cut that promo, we got more mainstream attention. Everyone wanted to interview me, whether it was GQ Magazine, the cover of USA Today … I had legitimate companies approaching me, just wanting to give me money to sponsor me.
I had a big money deal on the table, and I went to Vince … I told him my idea, said I wanted to do this sponsorship thing. I deserved it. I got all these new eyes on the product, and he says ‘nope, you can’t do that. Sponsors for Raw would get mad, the other wrestlers would get mad.’ A year later, Brock Lesnar comes back, and the m*********r has sponsors.
Lesnar’s return to the company has been met with mixed response. Having such a talent back among the WWE roster is a tremendous coup, but following his time in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, his appearances have at times been rare and sporadic.
Punk, on the other hand, was constantly featuring in the WWE’s tour schedule. After making his move from Ring of Honor, the 36-year-old grafted over the course of nine years to rise through their ranks, eventually going on to become the longest-reigning WWE champion of the modern era at 434 days.
Since quitting the business in typically enigmatic fashion, Punk has failed to comment on his departure until now and that exit is giving him the chance to explore the other avenues he’s always wanted to pursue.
One of those loves is comics and it was recently announced that Brooks would be featuring for Marvel as a writer on next year’s Thor annual, presenting a dramatic shift in career focus:
For anyone competing in the wrestling industry, the WWE is seen as the pinnacle, a crystallisation of one’s ability and recognition that they sit among the elite.
Ten months ago, CM Punk was at the very peak of that bunch, but he clearly feels he was mistreated by the company’s top man, McMahon, and he holds no regrets over his decision to ring the bell.