Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Feelings Dump: On CM Punk

Let him stay home
Photo Credit: WWE.com
I don't usually write about crowd reactions, because people who pay money should generally have some kind of carte blanche when their reactions to an emotional stimulus are in play. As long as they keep their reactions family friendly (RAW is rated TV-PG after all, for example), and as long as they are not being abusive to the performers, staff, or fellow fans, I can live with their chants even if they make me grit my teeth, which is to say that doesn't mean I think all of the aforementioned chants and reactions are funny or cool or even okay. The Green Bay crowd at RAW last night was especially annoying, but none more so than when a vocal minority started breaking out a random "CM Punk!" chant during a segment where the Wyatt Family was dismantling John Cena.

In the ring, Bray Wyatt and his minions were beating the ever-loving bejeezus out of the company's franchise, a bold move that apparently will put them in the rarefied air of the main event, and people still clamored for Punk. I know that Punk can't control what people chant at shows. He's not on Twitter cheerleading any attempt at "hijacking" shows (Side note, I hate the term "hijack" in this instance – fans are reacting their displeasure at entertainment, not violently commandeering a fucking aircraft. Y'all need to stop being so goddamn overdramatic for every little thing that happens.). He's at home for whatever reason that is known only between him and his employers.

Yet, at that time, those chants made me furious at Punk.

Okay, to be completely fair, I'm not necessarily "mad" at Punk. Even if I was, I'm a shithead fan and writer on the Internet, and me being mad at a wrestler is like your uncle being mad at President Obama for not lowering the flag at half-staff when the snake handler preacher dude died. I'm more angry at the reaction that him leaving the company has produced, especially since in the wake of his exit, RAW has been flush with great, fresh talent getting shine.

The twofold counterpoint would be that one, the heart wants what the heart wants, to which I have no real counter. Obviously, they want to see Punk, and honestly, I was in their shoes for three months in 2010 when Daniel Bryan was "fired" by the company. However, while I don't want to engage in crowd psychology, and while I don't want to make assumptions on why people would chant Punk, I think the second reason might be a political statement of protest against WWE for allowing Punk to walk out the door. The second reason is only an assumption, but I think crowds are getting more and more populated with folks who think they're savvy to the business and are sticking up for someone who was unjustly pushed out of wrestling. Again, that reason is not really founded basis of truth, but I've seen enough #IStandWithPunk hashtags to know the sentiment exists. The reasoning may be irrational, but it gets at me nonetheless.

Granted, I am not siding with management here. Once history has eroded the cover of kayfabe on this period of time and shines a light on what really happened, my guess is WWE management, whether Vince McMahon or a crony, stooge, or underling of his, will have a light shone on something stupid that they did or said to make Punk fly off the handle. History has borne this out time and time again. What I'm mostly tweaked about is that I don't know what the beef between Punk and management exactly is. I would venture to say that outside of Punk, McMahon, and their respective inner circles, no one does. Maybe no one was at fault, and this exit was a mutual parting of ways. It is basically an ignorant hullaballoo over something no one knows anything about. All anyone knows is that something happened, Punk left, and all his fans got really sad.

Even so, no one knew at the time of Bryan's aforementioned firing what the circumstances were, and now, even if he was really "fired," he was never meant to be gone from the company for too long anyway. But Bryan being gone meant a net loss for WWE from my personal enjoyment factor, which gets into the meat of why I've been getting annoyed at every mention of Punk since he left. I don't think him leaving really takes much from the table at all in terms of my personal enjoyment. In fact, Punk's existence with WWE was becoming somewhat of a sore point for me in the rollercoaster ride I take every Monday and Friday with company's main programming.

He stopped being enjoyable as a character sometime near the end of the Undertaker feud at Mania. While his performances in the ring still had the potential to be outstanding, when everyone on the roster was firing on all cylinders regardless of the show they were on, Punk's free TV wrestling lacked sorely, at least from my perspective. Couple his recent malaise with the fact that he's not only miserable and spiteful on social media but ever-present since he's one of the most retweeted personalities on Twitter, and I'm just sick and tired of seeing him or hearing about him.

Granted, the above is not a nagging lecture on how you should feel about Punk. It's not a detailed breakdown of his status with the company either. Call it me venting about something that has been bothering me for the better part of a year now. I don't know if I'm in the majority or minority of how folks feel about the guy, but I couldn't let it go for much longer before it drove me batty. Of course, if Punk comes back sooner, later, or if at all, I'll give him the same puncher's chance I give everyone who comes into a wrestling promotion I like and follow. He's been great before, and I think he can be great again. But I'm not going to pretend that him being gone is a detriment to my enjoyment of WWE right now, and I'm not going to particularly agree with the people who ruin a perfectly good Wyatt/Cena segment with calls to bring him back, even if I begrudgingly defend the rights of those folks to chant for him.