CM Punk's Publicity Stunt, WWE Harder Than UFC, NJPW Blindsiding Jarrett

The following is today's edition of Ask WNW. Ask WNW is the most popular feature on the website where Richard Gray answers four questions daily, Monday through Friday. To submit your question for the next installment of Ask WNW, click here.
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Pre-Ask WNW introductory note…

In Friday’s installment of Ask WNW I wrote…

“I’m not saying we should feel sorry for CM Punk. I am personally very grateful for all he gave with his career and I thought it was brilliant. Now, he’s said his peace and I wish we could all just move on.”

As you can imagine, this sent the Punkers (a term I invented to describe Punk loyalists) into a frenzy. I urged that we move on from CM Punk because it’s been nearly a year since we’ve seen him in the ring and quite frankly, I’d gotten bored with the barrage of questions asking when/if he would be returning to WWE. Then on Saturday, in a swerve that could only happen in pro wrestling, Punk announced live on pay-per-view that he had signed a multi-fight deal with UFC.

But you said to move on! This was one of the first comments in our breaking news story.

Well folks, there is no moving on now. The fact of the matter is CM Punk will be in our coverage for the foreseeable future and as you can probably imagine, the Ask WNW mailbox was full of questions asking about his jump from WWE to UFC. I am not anti-CM Punk and I am not pro-CM Punk, I simply write about what is interesting and what is in demand. As a human being, I come into every piece with a certain bias and viewpoint but my opinion largely doesn’t matter as I aim to provide content to the masses.

So with that, I give you today’s installment of Ask WNW.

Now that it has been confirmed CM Punk signed with UFC, was his interview on Thanksgiving week just a publicity stunt for his UFC announcement?

The best pro wrestlers know how to promote themselves and create hype all on their own. CM Punk “telling all” in a week when it was guaranteed there would be little to no other WWE-heavy news stories, was clearly by design. We can never predict the news but Punk obviously knew his story was going to outdraw anything out there. Doing so on what was bound to be a very slow news day and following it with his announcement at UFC 181 was brilliant.

Punk’s story was raw and it was honest from his perspective. While Ryback and anyone else can dispute his claims, that’s his side of the story and it’s a story that thousands of people wanted to hear. Clearly it was not a coincidence and a very good job by CM Punk.

With all the injuries CM Punk has had, why would he sign with UFC? If working Ryback “took 20 years off his life,” what does he think the fighters in UFC will do to him?

Why wouldn’t CM Punk sign with UFC? He loves MMA, it’s clearly one of his dreams and his window is closing. UFC came offering a contract, so of course he’s going to sign it. CM Punk isn’t just an ex-WWE superstar. He’s a well-conditioned athlete that has trained under the direction of Rener and Ryron Gracie, specifically in jiu-jitsu.

Obviously he didn’t get the contract offer from Dana White and Lorenzo Ferttita [from UFC] because he is a bonafide fighter, as he has no professional fighting experience. He got a contract offer because he’s one of the most recognizable names in the pro wrestling/Mixed Martial Arts demographic and will probably outdraw anyone currently under UFC contract. In fact, I expect him to draw every bit as much as Brock Lesnar did, if not more.

How will CM Punk fare? I have absolutely no idea. As for your question about Ryback “taking 20 years off his life,” I truly believe Punk was just over pro wrestling. He’d lost his passion for it, didn’t feel he was getting what he put in so it was a combination of the injuries and backstage politics that burnt him out and sent him on his way.

The difference between UFC and WWE is that a fighter has a considerable amount of time in-between fights to heal and recover. That doesn’t hold true in WWE. Everyone on the roster is working through something and often times, are doing so when they shouldn’t be. However, if you take time off, you lose your spot. Consider the WWE schedule for a moment. WWE Raw/Superstars on Monday, Smackdown/Main Event on Tuesday, live events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Exchange pay-per-views for live events one Sunday each month. Or how about an overseas tour that features shows every single day. Now, imagine getting hurt on Raw but being booked on two or three shows later in the week. Or working an overseas tour.

That’s the difference!

So for those that think they “caught Punk” in his statement about Ryback, you really didn’t. Working for WWE is more grueling on the human body than working for UFC because the lack of downtime. Let’s also not forget the amount of travel that takes place from show to show to show. Have you ever had a back injury? How about flying with a back injury only to take more bumps and fly more? I’m telling you, while UFC is legitimate fighting and WWE is scripted entertainment, there really isn’t a comparison between a fighter getting to take months off to a WWE superstar going 300 days out of the year. This is a point that will tick off MMA purists and one the mainstream media can't comprehend, but it's indisputable.

What’s the latest with Jeff Jarrett and his Global Force Wrestling? I know he is helping to promote New Japan Pro Wrestling’s biggest event next year in the US but do you feel him aligning himself with them was a mistake seeing that NJPW recently signed a TV deal in the United States?

Jeff Jarrett is currently shopping his program to networks, while also looking for a place to tape television. There has been some informal contact with talent but no one is under contract that I know of. From what I’ve been told, they’re being careful about committing to money until TV is worked out.

As for Jarrett’s relationship with New Japan Pro Wrestling, we heard and reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium that he was blinded by their new US TV deal with AXS TV. The feeling from those I’ve spoken with is that Jeff had hoped that Global Force Wrestling co-promoting the NJPW Tokyo Dome Show in the US was the beginning of a deal that would see them become the exclusive US partner for NJPW. Well, that’s not possible now and we have more at this link.

If Jarrett partnered with NJPW for the Tokyo Dome for the sole purpose of hoping for a bigger deal, then it was a mistake. However, we’ll see how things play out now that GFW is putting money into the show where they are bringing in Jim Ross.

Given the secretive nature of Vince McMahon in the past, is it possible the CM Punk interview and Steve Austin's interview with Vince McMahon is an elaborate work? The timing of these interviews seem to be building towards Wrestlemania. Punk has stated that he is burned out by pro wrestling so isn't it odd that him signing with UFC seems to go against that notion?

Anything is possible in pro wrestling but I truly do not believe these interviews are a well orchestrated elaborate work. I do believe that each interview had its own agenda, from CM Punk getting his name back in the limelight to Vince McMahon doing whatever it took to sell WWE Network subscriptions. CM Punk no longer enjoys professional wrestling, he’s made that abundantly clear. He didn’t feel he was getting what he put in, said he wasn’t having fun and his passion faded.

UFC is an entirely different situation. Punk no longer has to deal with the ridiculous WWE travel schedule and will have ample time to prepare for his first fight. The outcomes in UFC are not predetermined, so in Punk’s eyes, he will get 100% of what he puts in. Does that mean he’s guaranteed to win? Absolutely not but win or lose, Punk’s first UFC fight is going to draw huge and he’ll likely make a lot of money.

From the Ask WNW vault…

June 2013: What are your thoughts on CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar? - I am high up on a CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar and expect an entertaining program. Nothing against Triple H, but his program with Lesnar was overkill and I’m relieved to see Lesnar working with someone else. The booking does get tricky, as a very solid argument could be made about why neither needs to go under.

The next installment of Ask WNW is scheduled to run on Tuesday, December 9, 2014.

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