For those few who are still holding out hope that CM Punk will return to WWE, you might want to grab a box of tissues. They are never, ever, ever, getting back together.
The breakup was more or less mutual, but not amicable. WWE actually fired Punk — on his wedding day, the wrestler revealed to Colt Cabana on his “Art of Wrestling” podcast on Thursday, but that was after Punk, whose real name is Phil Brooks, walked out on the company unexpectedly in January. If only this two hours of stories (which includes language NSFW) was for a story line …
Sadly for everyone involved, this is real life and, according to CM Punk, WWE and certain wrestlers ignored several of his real-life health problems when being booked for matches and story lines. He brought up a few specific examples, including one in which it appears WWE cleared Punk to compete without him actually seeing a doctor. Importantly, Punk also named names in the uncensored discussion with Cabana, a fellow professional wrestler and friend of Punk’s.
“I remember when I was supposed to go back to Birmingham and get cleared before I came back to wrestle from my elbow,” Punk said, adding the thought he’d just be going back to cut a few promos, or dialogue bits, rather than wrestle. “Then [WWE head of road agents/producers] Michael Hayes comes up to me and goes, ‘All right, you’re working so and so,’ and I was like, ‘No, I’m not.’ … And he goes, ‘No, I just checked and they said you’re cleared.’ I was like, ‘I haven’t even gone to Birmingham to see Dr. [James] Andrews yet, what do you mean I’m cleared?’ I talked to Dr. [Chris] Amann and Dr. Amann was like, ‘I called him [Dr. Andrews] and I told him how you were and he said okay and he cleared you.’ I was like what kind of witch doctory bull … is that?”
Punk also slammed WWE’s concussion policy, saying the initial test is “bull-[expletive].” He passed after getting hurt in November 2013, when he says he clearly should’ve failed. He says he chose to continue to perform because he was the WWE champion at the time.
“WWE doesn’t do anything to protect the wrestlers, they do things to protect themselves. … They don’t let everybody know that they’re doing all these fantastic things for concussions for ‘the boys,’ ” Punk says, referring to professional wrestlers. “They do it so it looks good on them in the public.”
Punk compares WWE’s situation with that of the NFL, and says it’s the NFL Players’ Association that goaded concussions protocol changes, not the league, through the multibillion-dollar concussion settlement that the union helped negotiate.
“Vince doesn’t want to do that so they put all these things in place [that allow WWE to say,] ‘Oh look, we’re doing all this, we’re doing all that.’ ”
But perhaps the most damning story Punk told about WWE’s health and wellness policy was about the time the company allegedly gave him bad antibiotics, which led a cyst in his back to become a life-threatening MRSA staph infection. Deadspin summarizes it pretty well:
Starting at around 1:13:00 in the video, Punk says the WWE’s traveling doctor [Dr. Amann] neglected a growth on his back that eventually became very painful. The doctor, he says, would only prescribe generic antibiotics that only caused more issues. Near 1:30:00, Punk says he visited a doctor in Tampa who told him that the cyst was in fact a full-blown staph infection, and that he would need to be hospitalized immediately.
Punk also didn’t let some his former in-ring foes off easy, especially Ryback, who he calls a “steroid guy” and a negligent performer with little respect for others.
“That took 20 years off my [expletive] life,” Punk says of having to work with Ryback, whom he basically calls unqualified to wrestle in the WWE ring. “There was one time he kicked me in the stomach as hard as he could and he broke my ribs, right at the tail end. I never got an apology for that. A real piece of work, that guy.”
Punk also describes a time when Ryback was supposed to gorilla-press him onto a table. He missed and threw him on the concrete instead.
Ryback, who is enjoying a resurgence in WWE today, took no time to respond to Punk on Twitter. He later deleted the series of tweets, but the quotes live on, thanks to CageSideSeats.com.
“For the record if I quit for being fragile and insecure I would make up excuses too. Things didn’t go my way for a long time and I kept going day in and out. Slander is a powerful thing and to state complete made up nonsense for no reason shows his insecurities. I will continue to bust my [behind] study matches every chance I get, cut promos when driving and push myself for hours on end even when hurt. Thank you,” @Ryback22 said in three separate, now-deleted tweets.
Brian “Road Dogg” James, a former superstar who now works backstage for WWE, also responded to the podcast via replying to fans on Twitter, mostly stating there is always another side to the story. Unfortunately, James also said the other side, presumably the WWE’s, would not be told.
WWE did issue a response to Punk’s accusations, via Yahoo! Sports, but the company did not address any of the accusations specifically.
“WWE takes the health and wellness of its talent very seriously and has a comprehensive Talent Wellness Program that is led by one of the most well-respected physicians in the country, Dr. Joseph Maroon,” the company simply said. WWE did not mention Dr. Amann, who was at the center of many of Punk’s stories.