Probably the topic I was most hoping that Steve Austin would broach with Triple H during their podcast on WWE Network last night was CM Punk. And not his exit from WWE, or The Art of Wrestling interview about his departure, but the post-"Pipe Bomb" booking that saw a white-hot Punk lose to The Game and then...
I personally believe that the inclusion of Kevin Nash and Night of Champions match with Triple H in 2011 that prevented The Best in the World from becoming a Superstar on the level of Austin or The Rock.
Stone Cold took a general slant on bridging the topic, and didn't follow-up to really get into the booking of 2011 - probably because Hunter is quick to lay that all on his father-in-law, Vince McMahon:
I've never had a beef with him. I never have. And then when we got further in and we worked together, whether it was when he first did the thing when he walked out, when he dropped the pipe bomb and the whole thing. We did this storyline and (Kevin) Nash was brought in, and it was done for the right reasons, right? I think it was done to get us into him and get him more over. The decisions that were made were Vince's and were made to help him. Then they didn't work out for whatever reason. Nash couldn't hang, and he couldn't be here, and then... But I don't know. He held a grudge on that.
Beyond that, Trips very much parrots Vince in saying that Punk is a lone without good communication skills:
He's a weird cat. I don't mean that as a knock but I mean that as he's hard to get to know, he doesn't talk, he doesn't communicate well. I would hear from everybody in my role now as a talent relations and all that, I would from everybody that 'oh my gosh, he's livid today, he's quitting, he's this, he's that' and I would go to him and say 'what's going on?' And I would get 'oh, nothing, everything's fine.' It's tough.
That of course doesn't mean that fences can't be mended to the point where we could see Punk in WWE again, but that's also up to McMahon:
One guy to ask on (if he ever comes back) but never say never. Listen, Bruno (Sammartino) was here, everybody's, Hogan's been here. The thing is, if the fans want it, if the WWE Universe wants it, if that's what is best for business, and I don't mean to sound that like it's the cliche but it's really what's in the best interest of everybody here. If we can get past it... It's my regret that we couldn't get past all this stuff with him. But if he didn't want to be here anymore, if this wasn't his passion anymore, then he shouldn't be here. You can't do this job if you don't love it.
The Game makes a good point about Punk or anyone trying to toil away at a WWE career if their heart isn't in it, but beyond that, he talks the issues in circles. And the Texas Rattlesnake unfortunately never calls him on it.
I would have loved to hear Austin really dig into this issue and, since the pair were so willing to disregard kayfabe an discuss how audience percpetion impacts creative decisions, the notion of Triple H as someone who has "buried" up and coming acts to protect his spot.
But they didn't so this is what we got.
What do you think of it, Cagesiders? Buying Hunter's explanation that it was all Vince's call, and that he has no hard feelings toward someone who allegedly said, "all due respect, I do not need to wrestle you, you need to wrestle me. I do not want to wrestle you. I seriously resent you for not putting me over three years ago when you should have...and I am in a position now where I can tell you that I don't have to nor do I want to wrestle you at WrestleMania"?
Or was this just a political answer?
You know how to let us know.