The machine's head struck Phil Brooks. There's simply no other way to say it and, while I'm not a fanatical CM Punk shadow, I DO respect his contributions to the history books and I respect his candor in the interview. There were no punches pulled and shots very much were fired and the volley lands squarely in WWE's court for response.
Without diving deeply into the ocean of the interview, which was nearly 2 and a half hours long, I will put a couple of important bullet points up concerning what was said. I will post the interview so you can listen for yourself right below this column.
1. The double standard
2. The money payday loss from WWE Network for PPV
3. "Sucking it up"
4. WWE booking
5. The Shield = the Punk stable
6. Concussions and the Staph infection
7. Termination Day= Wedding Day
Seven points, seven deadly sins, seven dwarves....wait, what? What matters in it all is that most of what was said is in verbatim (words spoken through the eyes of those within the confines of the story) isn't far from what I've been saying in general here the past few years. WWE caters to the masses, not the minority. For that reason, they have a sweeping approach to doing business, and this is nothing new to those of you who have been reading this blog longer than a minute.
When Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, and more of their top talents began leaving in droves, I began asking why. CM Punk's story is one I've seen somewhere before....without the added bells and whistles that would have been filled with drug abuse and the like. THIS is the reason why a lot of former WWE talents go to places like TNA or ROH or other promotions. WWE HAS no off season. TNA works less than half the year, which HAS to feel like vacation to most of the guys and gals who spent years on the WWE road rash schedule all but a couple of weeks during the year.
I've got sympathy for those guys and gals who take it on the chin and come in week after week when they're bruised and battered and have little left in the tank to give to the fans and the sport in general and still lace up the boots and put on a show. Seriously, my hats off to those of you in the number. I have much respect for that. Moving back into the Punk interview, he made some observations about booking and how the face and heel movement goes down that were very thought provoking. It helps for fans to take a breath and look past the glint and glitter that is on the fringe of every piece of WWE merch or video package and look at the characters themselves. Are they relatable? Do they make sense? Is there coherence with the running history this character has leading into the storylines? This is all stuff we, as fans can understand and get behind, but WWE's fans, by and large, are kids. Simple as that, so when he says that the heels have a smaller payday.....in WWE, that's the ever-loving truth of the matter.
As I've said before, TNA and other promotions work villains so well and in such a less contaminated environment, where it's okay to be fans of the bad guy. "It pays to be Roode" and this comes from "The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived".....you get the point. If you want to work as a heel, TNA is the single best place to start. If you want to be a face, TNA's heels will get you over enough to make that happen.
But in spite of everything spoken, a couple of things rang out, which echoes something I said all the way back in a column here called "Is it Fair?" This was back in 2012 in the months before Wrestlemania that year. Little did I know how true my comments were. Did Punk deserve the same amount in bonus pay as The Undertaker? Sure, he did. He worked his ass off and, if anyone on the roster deserved to put 'Taker's career to rest for good, it was either Shawn Michaels or him. No one else is believable. Even Randy or Cena didn't have the athleticism to make the feat work and stand up on the highlight reels without looking manufactured or canned.....maybe that's just me.
Was he the best on the roster at the time he was at his apex? I think there's a case to be made. Angle was gone, The Rock was gone, Austin was gone, Michaels was gone, Taker was all but gone, Hogan had been gone, and Cena was gone for a few months during the time.....so virtually every top tier star was out for the count when Punk filled his role. In the name of fairness, he was the only name on the card, not trying to put anyone down, but speaking in terms of name recognition, the casual fan would only have been able to name Punk off the card. On the other hand, as he correctly stated, each time he headlined the card, it did better than the year prior.
To fully wrap your minds around it all; the perspective of the guy who stood on the top of the summit; listen to the interview and gain some insight. In fairness, Vince McMahon shows up on Steve Austin's podcast, which emanates from the WWE channel, and not surprisingly, I might add; to rebuttal a few of his talking points, but from the stuff that was covered there was fringe in comparison to what WWE needed to cover in public on record. A simple apology and the promise of non-retaliation is laughable in light of what Punk covered this past week. Nice try, Vince, but you'll have to do better than that in order to put Punk's fans and converts back on your side of the line.
For the Punk interview, just copy and paste into the web browser: