Wednesday, May 30 was the second day of the jury trial for the defamation suit WWE physician Dr. Chris Amann brought against CM Punk and Colt Cabana based on their 2014 podcast describing the medical treatment Punk received during his time with WWE.
All of the morning session and the bulk of the afternoon were spent with Amann on the stand being questioned by his own and Punk and Cabana’s legal teams. Previously recorded testimony from former WWE time keeper Mark Yeaton was played in the courtroom to end the day.
The specific instance which received the most attention was the 2014 Royal Rumble. Punk was the iron man in the match, and it was his last appearance in WWE. He was concussed by a Kofi Kingston clothesline about 30 minutes into his approximately 49 minutes in the match, and he discussed that during the bout with Amann, who relayed the information to the production team in Gorilla position (time was spent defining a number of inside wrestling terms like Gorilla, Royal Rumble match rules, the scripted nature of pro wrestling, etc).
Punk was told by producers such as Michael Hayes, relayed by Yeaton and referees he was in contact with at ringside, first to roll out of the ring and then to eliminate himself. He did neither. Eventually Kane entered the match and eliminated him by chokeslamming him through a table on the floor.
From Hausman’s notes, this incident doesn’t seem to show Amann being neglectful, but does indicate that Punk did not follow direction to exit the match, which isn’t terribly shocking considering he’s an athlete/performer and was suffering from a concussion. It doesn’t paint WWE in a great light, considering they knew he was or at least might be injured, yet chose to go with the table elimination spot.
Concussions and concussion symptoms, and how Amann and WWE medical responded to Punk reporting them are a theme of the rest of his testimony. In text messages, emails and medical records from 2012 - 2014, a litany of issues Punk brought to Amann and another WWE doctor, Michael Samson, are introduced to the court. Shoulder, elbow, back and rib pain are documented, as are frequent headaches, lack of energy, fatigue, loss of appetite and mild diarrhea. Through most of this, it seems as if Punk continues to wrestle as WWE sends him for various tests.
There is conflicting evidence and testimony presented about whether and when Amann prescribed or even gave Punk antibiotics, and whether Punk ever approached Amann about or if the doctor spotted the growth on the wrestler’s back he said on Cabana’s podcast was later determined to be a MRSA/Staph infection. Communication between Amann, Samson and other WWE medical personnel introduced into evidence by Punk’s lawyers does show antibiotics being given to their client with and without recording them (which Amann says were for sinusitus), as well as the staff joking about Z Paks and Punk’s future wife AJ Lee wanting to be involved in discussions about his care.
Another issue which Punk and Cabana’s lawyers sought to drill down on was the basis for Amann’s defamation claim. The plaintiff’s team brought up derogatory social media posts and signs at WWE shows directed at Amann and joking about Z Paks which came after the podcast aired, but the doctor admitted Punk’s allegations didn’t impact his reputation at work or change wrestlers views of him. He also said he’s not seeking restitution for emotional damage from the alledged defamation. Cabana’s representatives also sought to establish their client didn’t mention Amann specifically, nor could he have known if Punk was telling the truth or not.
Also of note - Punk and Cabana apparently didn’t speak before the trial, with Punk arriving last and looking tired and possibly marked up from training for his UFC fight next Saturday (June 9). But they did confer with each other during breaks and good naturedly handed out mints to some people in attendance at one point while lawyers met with the judge.
This is just one read of the notes Hausman posted. We encourage those of you interested in seeing more detail and or forming your own opinion to head over to that site for his originals (again, here and here).