Just yesterday, WWE fired 10 wrestlers and one referee (and more roster cuts could be on the way, at least on an administrative level). At the company website, a page was dedicated to announcing as much with new names added throughout the morning, leading to fans simply squatting on said page and refreshing.
Noticeably absent from the list was CM Punk, who walked out on the company back in January and apparently has no plans to come back anytime soon. He's "retired" and "it feels good", remember?
So what gives?
Despite the fact that it seems clear Punk is giving no thought to returning to pro wrestling in any form, WWE could be hoping to block him from working with outside competition or keep him under contract in the event he changes his mind and decides to come back.
You might think it won't matter come July when his contract is reportedly scheduled to run out but it's entirely possible WWE extends his deal then. The Wrestling Observer (subscription required but recommended) explains how that could happen:
Since a lot of people have asked about this related to Mysterio and last week's issue, all standard WWE contracts are written with the clause that the company can extend the contract based on the wrestlers not performing for an extended period of time due to an injury. So WWE doing the automatic renewal of his expiring contract is something specifically mentioned in his deal and in all standard deals. I haven't heard of it being used for anyone else. They could do that with Punk in July should they choose. The advantage is that they could keep him from working for anyone else. The disadvantage is if they did renew him, they'd have to pay him his downside, which right now, they wouldn't be paying him since he's refusing to work.
Punk doesn't come cheap, but is it worth it to keep him from possibly working for other promotions, especially at a time when the WWE Network is doing as poorly as it has, the stock has plunged, and the company is set to lose somewhere around $50 million this year alone?
We'll find out next month.
Meanwhile, the list of wrestlers who wanted to work but whose talents weren't utilized are off to an uncertain future on the independent scene. Here's to hoping The Hurricane's motivational words prove true for the lot of them.