Ten months to the day after disappearing from WWE programming following the “Royal Rumble,” CM Punk is finally clearing the air about the situation. Though speculation about his absence has run rampant since he left the company, Punk (real name Phil Brooks) has remained almost entirely silent on the issue.
He made an appearance on the “Art of Wrestling” podcast — hosted by fellow wrestler and his real-life best friend Colt Cabana — and one thing has become clear: Punk will never be going back to WWE. There are many reasons Punk and WWE parted ways, but the biggest seems to be what he thinks is the organization’s lack of concern for his health.
On the podcast, Punk listed off instances he thought showcased WWE’s disregard for his health, some of which could have left him seriously injured or dead. Once when he was supposed to rehab from a knee surgery for four-to-six weeks, WWE booked him to appear in a “TLC” (Tables, ladders and chairs) match only three weeks after the procedure. Another time, he believed he had a concussion, but somehow passed WWE’s concussion test with “flying colors.” (At the time he questioned the test’s effectiveness.) Perhaps the most serious circumstance of WWE neglect was when a WWE doctor told him a mass on his back was nothing serious, but it ended up being a staph infection that had been untreated for so long it could have killed him.
Furthermore, Punk raised concerns about the lack of training and skill some of his opponents possessed, specifically Ryback. He says working with Ryback — a rookie who was immediately placed in matches with top WWE talent — took 20 years off of his life and caused him to sustain legitimate injuries. “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,” Punk says. “I never got an apology for that. He was something else. A real piece of work, that guy.”
Ryback later responded to Punk’s claims, tweeting, “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 a** study matches every chance I get, cut promos when driving and push myself for hours on end even when hurt.” He quickly deleted the tweets, replacing them with a message saying he would answer to Punk’s claims “in due time.”
For Punk, the final nail in the coffin was the way he was treated after leaving WWE. Brooks says he met with Vince McMahon and Triple H about his concerns — including not wanting to wrestle Triple H at “Wrestlemania 30” — the day after the “Royal Rumble.” Not long after he left, WWE notified him that he was suspended before terminating his contract on his wedding day. In a weird bit of irony, he was marrying current WWE diva A.J. Lee. He also says the company attempted to withhold royalty payments due to a breach of contract.
After hiring a lawyer, Punk was able to work out a deal with WWE, which he can’t divulge the specifics of. “I don’t think I’ll get in trouble for saying I got everything I wanted and then some,” he reveals. That includes payment related to the “WWE 2K15” video game, which heavily features him even though he’s no longer under contract.
Even after going into extreme detail on his relationship with WWE, Punk is remaining open about his exit. He’ll appear on the next “Art of Wrestling” episode to answer any fan questions stemming from his interview. You’ll be able to find that episode of “The Art of Wrestling” on its website
or iTunes. You can hear Punk’s full two-hour interview below.