CM Punk met with Vince McMahon prior to this week's episode of Monday Night Raw in Cleveland, Ohio and decided to return to his home in Chicago, Illinois. The atmosphere backstage at this week's show was already extremely chaotic as McMahon issued an edict on Monday morning to prominently feature Daniel Bryan on the Raw broadcast after the company saw one of their biggest pay-per-view events of the year hijacked by the live audience that was upset over the way Bryan was booked. By Wednesday morning, CM Punk had been removed from all upcoming WWE shows with word making rounds that he had walked out on the company.
Since then, numerous theories have made rounds with sources stressing Punk was upset over his character's direction and subsequent plans for Wrestlemania XXX. One of Punk's biggest goals going back to his two-month hiatus last year was to be in one of the top two matches on this year's show. Punk felt like he had earned the spot after "stealing the show" with Undertaker at Wrestlemania 29 and spent a lot of time strategizing the best way to get a top spot on the pay-per-view this year.
The plan going into the Royal Rumble pay-per-view on Sunday had Punk competing in a singles match against Triple H at the pay-per-view in April. However, word began making rounds backstage at Raw that match could be given to Daniel Bryan and Punk's undercard program with Kane could extend past this month's Elimination Chamber. While Punk was never told 100% that his match with Hunter at Wrestlemania was off, one of the things he wanted from Vince McMahon was assurance he would be in a top Wrestlemania match. When he didn't receive that assurance, it's believed that's the point he decided to go home.
While Punk hasn't told anyone on the record why exactly he left, Vince McMahon wasn't giving up on him and still hoped to get him back for Wrestlemania. One unconfirmed tipster tried to pump out a rumor that the issue had caused a divide between Vince and Triple H, claiming that Hunter wanted to wash his hands with Punk and move on. We highlighted that Punk has a better relationship with Vince than he does Triple H and feels he's not a Triple H-guy like Batista, who will be in one of the Wrestlemania XXX main events. Punk said last Friday night Batista is one of his friends and he wasn't upset with his return to the company.
There are those that have suggested this is part of a storyline, although the consensus is it is a legitimate situation that WWE will hope to turn it into an angle. WWE began further distancing from CM Punk later in the week by unfollowing him on Twitter and pulling him from planned Wrestlemania XXX Fan Axxess signings. We were also able to confirm that CM Punk signs were confiscated at this week's WWE NXT tapings in Winter Park, Florida.
Until Punk steps up to set the record straight, speculation and theories will continue. Everything he said before Royal Rumble will receive a second look and every possible clue will be brought to light. In addition to being unhappy with the direction of his character over the last few months, Punk has been unhappy with the lack of long-term direction in the company and was less than thrilled with the forthcoming WWE Network.
The issue with the WWE Network amongst talent has to do with the fact that management has not discussed how it will impact pay-per-view bonuses. The way things are currently setup, workers on the shows receive a percentage of the pay-per-view revenue. With the WWE Network changing the pay-per-view model by decreasing the price, most of the roster is concerned it could mean lower pay-per-view bonus checks.
CM Punk spent Saturday night before Sunday's Royal Rumble pay-per-view on approved time off at UFC on Fox 10 with UFC President Dana White, who was unaware Punk had walked out on WWE until informed by reporters and said he never mentioned it on Saturday. Punk wasn't believed to be in the best of moods after Sunday's Rumble pay-per-view but that's the last we heard before the now infamous meeting with Vince McMahon on Monday.
The big issue brought to light last week was Punk confirming his WWE contract was up in July 2014 and he had not decided on his future. Punk pointed to 2011 and said he was "out the door" and ended up signing an extension. He said he didn't want to do that again, so he wasn't committing to anything.
Punk's non-commitment had some believing he was leaning towards retirement as the feeling was he was suffering from burnout both mentally and physically. At the age of 35, Punk has made it clear there are a lot of miles on his body due to decades of being in the pro wrestling business.
However, that's where the story stops. A meeting with Vince McMahon and a trip back home, the entire pro wrestling world is wondering what will happen with CM Punk. Has he worked his last match in WWE or is this just the latest incident that will become another angle? The only person that will be able to answer that question is CM Punk himself. Until then, we're all left wondering, speculating and examining every possible detail.
Punk's last Tweet was made almost two days before the news broke. We'll end with that: