During CM Punk’s debut promo on AEW Rampage, he said he understands why some fans were disappointed with his decision to step away from the wrestling business seven years ago, but he had to do it in order to recover his health.
In a recent interview with Busted Open Radio, Punk elaborated further on the topic, explaining that he would have died if he stayed in WWE:
“There’s what people like to call WWE drones out there that aren’t gonna like anything I have to say about that company. So I try to limit what I do say, but everything I do say is the truth.
I was gonna die. You know what I mean? Because, in my head I’m always like, well what would Harley Race do? He would keep going. There’s only so many times you can get hurt and keep going. I was never given time off after an elbow surgery, a knee surgery, narrowly avoided a hip surgery. It was always, ‘No, we need you.’
And it’s nice to be needed, but they will run you dry. And I was on that path. I watched too many friends get swallowed up by this business, and by drugs, and everything else they maybe thought that they had to do to keep going. And I was a cycle breaker. I took myself out of it. I’ve never really been proud of myself about a lot of things, but that’s just a real life thing that I was proud of myself about.
Because I took a step back and I was like, they’re not listening to me. I’m sick, I’m hurt. They’re not going to take care of me. I had to take care of myself, you know what I mean? It caused a lot of drama, a lot of silly baggage. But I’m alive; I woke up this morning. It sounds dramatic, but it’s not bullshit.
I would’ve kept going until I literally could not go anymore. And then what? Then I get posthumously inducted into a fugazi Hall of Fame? No, I don’t want that. I want to be able to kiss my wife and walk my dog, and enjoy things.
...I implore anybody out there that if you’re unhappy with anything, you have to do what’s best for you. That was the one hundred percent bottom line. I wish there was a support system. But I was mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally just in pain. And if I didn’t get out of there, I wouldn’t be here right now.”
Punk’s previous statements about the poor medical care he received in WWE led to a defamation lawsuit by WWE doctor Chris Amman, which was resolved in Punk’s favor in 2018. His words in this interview double down on the notion that he had to leave WWE in order to take care of his health, otherwise the path he was on would have ended in catastrophe.
For this reason alone, I was never upset with Punk for leaving WWE in January 2014. There was plenty of material going around throughout 2013 that indicated he was having significant health problems, so it was reasonable to be concerned about his well-being even before he officially spoke up and provided more specific details on the matter.
Punk’s message here about the importance of taking care of one’s self makes a lot of sense, and he manages to sneak in a jab at WWE’s half-assed Hall of Fame in the process.
More than seven years later, how do you feel about CM Punk’s decision to leave WWE?