WWE News WWE NEWS: The C.M. Punk Interview Part 1 - Punk says he was fired on his wedding day & will never work for WWE again, why he left WWE, legal battle that followed, Final Meeting with McMahon & Hunter, independent contractor, more
Dec 4, 2014 - 2:10:26 AM
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By James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor
Part 1 Report - November 27, 2014
Former WWE star C.M. Punk says he is never returning to WWE, there is no working relationship with WWE following a legal settlement, his health was in jeopardy at the end of his WWE run, and the last straw for him was being fired on his wedding day.
For the first time since leaving WWE after the Royal Rumble in January, Punk gave his account of what led to his decision to leave WWE, what happened after the Rumble, and why he will never return to WWE in a two-hour interview with his close friend Colt Cabana on Cabana's "Art of Wrestling" podcast released HERE on Thanksgiving Thursday. (In a piece of interesting timing, Cabana noted at the top that this week's podcast was sponsored by 2K Sports's "WWE 2K15" video game.)
Punk's story starts at the famous Money in the Bank 2011 PPV in Chicago when "I talked myself into giving it the old college try" returning to WWE when his contract expired. Punk noted he was miserable at the time, but decided to continue pushing forward with the mindset that he could create change, he was going to be a locker room leader, and he was going to main-event WrestleMania.
Punk detailed events leading up to MITB 2011 - such as the Nexus Invasion angle sprung on him right after he had multiple surgeries - and all of the major events from July 2011 to the 2014 Royal Rumble that built like a fire ready to explode until the final meeting with Vince McMahon and Triple H at Raw following the Rumble.
Punk noted that at the time of the Rumble, he was severely injured, recently concussed, and had an unidentified swollen mass on his back - that turned out to be staph infection - that he was concerned about. At the Rumble, Punk suffered another concussion, prompting WWE to run an angle where Kane eliminated him from the Rumble despite Punk sending a message that he would quit if Kane even touched him because he wanted to finish the match. (It was nothing against Kane (Glenn Jacobs), he just happened to be the person called down to eliminate him.)
In-between the Rumble and Raw, Punk said he asked himself, "What am I doing with my life?" as he looked at his future wife, A.J. Lee, in bed next to him. "It was a big moment of clarity," Punk said after realizing that he was self-destructing after buying into the "Harley Race" mentality that a top star keeps pushing through no matter how he feels.
Punk recalled going to Raw TV, where WWE wanted him to take a concussion test, and he had enough. This was because Punk called WWE's test "bulls---" the previous year after being concussed. He was also concerned about the mass on his back and the effect of multiple injuries on his health. "I'm f------ sick. Help me," he shouted at management.
WWE also wanted Punk to pee in a cup for a drug test, which set off Punk because he felt like the Wellness Policy was amended to allow wrestlers with two strikes to "work off a strike" in order to avoid termination.
As for the actual Raw TV, Punk said WWE kept changing what he was going to be doing on the show. This captured one of the big themes of the interview that WWE continually changed plans on him from MITB 2011 to this point at the Rumble; he felt like Vince McMahon had no long-term plans for wrestlers other than John Cena.
All of this came to a head, leading to Punk pulling aside Vince McMahon and Triple H for a meeting that led to his exit from WWE. Punk recalled to Cabana the Final Meeting at the post-Rumble Raw:
"I looked Vince in the eye and I said, 'I do not love this anymore. I'm f----- sick, I'm f------ hurt, I'm f------ confused, I don't know as a business what we're doing anymore. Every day you tell me it's a team effort, but every day it's an individual effort by me to find what's necessary to even f-n come here. It's not fun. I have zero passion for this. I'm concussed, I'm hurt, and alls you care about is what segment I'm in and how soon I can get my gear on and how soon I can pee in this cup and I don't want to do it anymore.'
"I mentioned something about the piss test and Hunter said, 'Well, you know, Dave (Batista) just took the same piss test you did.' And I just looked at Hunter and went, 'Well, did you?' And he had nothing to say. I said (to McMahon), 'Look, I thought when I re-signed three years ago I told you if I couldn't be all that I said I could be, you could f----- fire me. And, if I was a fraud and anything less and fell short of the f------ mark - I said, 'I sold more shirts than John Cena until I turned heel for you. You said you owed me one. I worked guys that were dangerous and you said you owed me one. I did all these things and alls I wanted was the main event of WrestleMania. And it's fine if you don't think that is me and I'm not the caliber of that Superstar, but then you need to f------ fire me. Because I do not want to be here and I do not want to be anything else.' And then I will go somewhere else and get over because I can.
"You have shackled me, you have creatively stifled me, you have made this a very toxic environment, I no longer want to be here. It boggles my mind how Daniel Bryan has not figured into your plans to be in the main event of WrestleMania because this is his year. Just like two years ago when it was my year and I was white f----- hot, just like he is now, and what did you do? You fed me to this guy.' And I pointed to right at Hunter. Vince was like, 'This is the concussion talking. I can't believe you're saying any of this. It is a main event - you're wrestling Triple H."
"I politely turned to Hunter and I said, 'With all due respect, I do not need to wrestle you. You need to wrestle me. I do not want to wrestle you. I seriously resent you for not putting me over three years ago when you should have. That would have been best for business. But, you had to come in and squash it. And then I had to lose to Truth and Miz. It didn't make any business sense and now I'm in the position where I can tell you I don't have to nor do I want to wrestle you at WrestleMania. I don't care if I was supposed to win - which I was - I didn't want to give him the f------ privilege.
"I said a lot of s--- in there. I told them again - and Hunter was gritting his teeth, and he never liked me. Me and him in a room together - it was always negative vibes." Punk recalled Hunter saying that Punk was in a WrestleMania "main event" last year, but Punk said there is only one main event, no matter how WWE tries to market it to the public.
"Hunter told me I was in the main event because I wrestled The Undertaker," Punk continued. "I turned to him and said, 'Tell me I got paid the same amount of money as you, Brock, Cena, Rock, or whoever.' And once again, he had nothing to say. I was like, 'I'm out of here.' Vince, with tears in his eyes, went in for a hug, and it was like a reluctant patting on the back, then I looked at Hunter and he stuck his hand out and I shook his hand. I said, 'Goodbye,' and I walked out."
Punk noted he did not officially quit when he walked out, which factored into "when the story got really good."
First, Vince McMahon texted him one week later asking if he was ready to return, which was a sign of McMahon not getting the message. Punk then recalled visiting a doctor recommended by A.J. Lee. The doctor determined the mass on his back was "a full-blown staph infection." Punk said the doctor cut it, squeezed the puss out, patched it up, and gave him three months of antibiotics. Asked why antibiotics given to him by WWE's doctors did not work, Punk recalled the doctor saying that staph requires a different type of antibiotic to kill the infection. (WWE's doctors refused to identity what was on Punk's back, according to Punk.)
When Punk told the doctor that he wrestled with the mass on his back for three months, Punk said the doctor told him: "You should be dead. You could have died."
Punk then noted McMahon contacted him to tell him he's suspended for two months, which would have been until the day after WrestleMania. Then, once the two months came up, no one contacted him from WWE's office, but McMahon said on an investor conference call that Punk was "on a sabbatical." Then, the royalty checks stopped coming.
The royalty checks became a big part of the "final straw," as Punk recalled finding a royalty check from last year that he forgot to cash. This led to a back-and-forth with WWE's talent relations and legal department on getting last year's check re-issued and royalty checks for 2014. But, no one would return his phone calls, he said. After it appeared both sides were going to have a stalemate until his contract expired, Punk recalled getting a text from Triple H on June 11 - two days before his wedding with A.J.
Punk said he told Hunter his situation - he was getting married, he was going on his honeymoon, and they could talk out the situation when he returned home from the honeymoon. Then, on the day of his wedding, Punk said he received a FedEx with termination papers.
"I was fired on my wedding day," Punk said. Punk said that pushed him over the edge, especially clauses in the letter saying he forfeits all royalties and WWE claims a breach of contract retro-active to January. After that, Punk said he found a lawyer in Los Angeles who helped him contend WWE's claims and "get these motherf-------."
Punk said he cannot talk about the terms of the settlement, but he "got everything I wanted and more." He added that WWE wanted a joint statement and non-disparagement clause, but Punk said he did not say a word about WWE after leaving the company; meanwhile, WWE called him a quitter in his hometown of Chicago, so he felt like WWE owed him and the fans in Chicago an apology.
Punk added that WWE kept telling his lawyer that his client, Punk, was going to TNA, but his lawyer laughed off the notion, saying that Punk "absolutely despises pro wrestling" and he's "never going to wrestle again."
Punk described WWE as "bullies" who want to feel like they've won something, so WWE has Punk merchandise on their Shop website because they already produced the merchandise that Punk is allowing them to sell as part of the settlement.
"There is no working relationship, and there never will be ever again. That wedding day thing was pretty ridiculous," Punk said.
Punk also claimed that WWE was "terrified" of him taking the company to court over the independent contract status for wrestlers and "ruining the way they do business."
Punk added, "I would like to see them get some sort of union for the boys and girls, that way I know they're serious about protecting them from concussions and other things. There should be something like that in place, but there's not... I don't like it, and I don't have to like it. I'm out and I'm focused on s--- that makes me happy."
There is also the factor of PPV pay-offs in the Network era, which Punk recalled no one else seemed to be asking about because no one wanted to rock the boat. In fact, Punk said Randy Orton came to him asking what he heard about pay-offs since Orton was one of the only other people to speak up about the issue.
Punk recalled McMahon laughing off the topic when he brought it up, with McMahon telling him that they would figure out pay-offs once the Network kicked off. "WWE doesn't do anything to protect the wrestler; they do things to protect themselves," Punk opined.
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