CM Punk: The Hero of the Entitlement Generation Part 2

In part 1 of this story, I wanted to focus on a most of CM Punk’s complaints about this time in the WWE, and how they were examples of an entitlement generation. In this part, I want to focus on his health concerns, his points that are valid, and his timing of the podcast.

If there is one thing I have been an advocate for it has been increased concussion awareness. This is why Punk’s complaints about the impact test and concussion protocol took me so off base. As someone who has followed concussion science, I was shocked to hear his complaints about how WWE doctors treated him until I looked deeper. 

First let’s talk about the impact test and what it is. Impact is basically a computer game that you play, and through these tests/games a doctor can tell if you mental functions have been slowed, or altered because of a blow to the head. The impact test is the gold standard of concussion diagnostics and does a great job of measuring the brain. Now there has been talk by many people (notably Mick Foley) of guys trying to alter the tests and baseline tests in order to fool the machine. That is an issue with any test, and the case for this is pretty minimal. So when Punk says he was “listening to music and texting” during the procedure, that doesn’t make much sense to me as someone has to actually pay attention to even get a reading on the test. An impact test is a multitude of little tests, so it makes sense that Punk may have been texting in between the tests, but not during.

At the same time, impact can miss a diagnosis, and doctors are encouraged to do more tests if they think there is still an issue, this is quite normal. In fact only a couple years ago Sidney Crosby had concussion issues, and he would regularly go through a battery of tests including the impact test, but also light cardio to see if symptoms would increase, if not they would move him up to heavier cardio. This is exactly what the WWE doctors do after Punk passes his Impact test, they then ask him to run the ropes in a light cardio exercise to see if any symptoms persist. Punk refused this test and then decided to do his next tour. To be fair, the biggest need for concussion testing and diagnosis is self-reporting. If a patient isn’t willing to self-report his issues, doctors have less and fewer options in treating a concussion. This is something that the Sports Legacy institute has preached for years. The SLI helped design the WWE’s concussion testing, and to hear Punk’s claims should shock and appall any member of the SLI, yet we have heard nothing from them. This means that the claims may just be bravado. The SLI has been the only true advocate for tougher concussion protocols, and they’ve actively worked for those protocols. For them to be silent on this issue is rather strange. While Triple H is a board member for the SLI, that has not stopped them from criticizing industries, including pro wrestling, at any time.

What does come of this is the fact that the WWE has absolutely no “Pull from play” policy when it comes to concussions. In the NFL, or any competitive football, when an athlete receives a suspected concussion, he is immediately pulled from the field and not let back on until he can go through tests. The WWE does not have this. If a wrestler receives a concussion, there is no stopping a match or pulling the wrestler, he continues to go on his own prerogative. We see this in Punk’s Royal Rumble story. If he had a concussion, he should have been pulled and immediately taken to the back, no questions; it should not be up to the athlete to make that call. This is incredibly dangerous, and keeping an athlete in a position to further exasperate his condition is dangerous.

What this all amounts to is Punk has some credible complaints on the issue of concussions, but not in the way he intended. If he isn’t willing to self-report then there isn’t much a doctor to do. This is a cultural issue that needs to be addressed. But Punk uses the concussions as just a way to complain about the medical staff, which he obviously takes massive umbrage with. 

Secondly we have Punks issues with the doctors and his staph infection. While I will not doubt the veracity of Punk’s claims, I find the exact story a tad suspect. But let’s start with the biggest claim he makes and the one with the most merit. If you follow sports, then you know of the ongoing problem in many NFL locker rooms with the over prescription of antibiotics. In fact just in 2013 the NFL has a scandal where two players for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had similar issues with MRSA infections. The NFL has been criticized because of its overuse of the Z-pack and quickly getting players back into practice and on to the field. With this in our view as well, we can see that Punk’s complaint is not simply a complaint on wrestling, but a larger complaint in the way athletes are treated in locker rooms of any sport. 

But what strikes me as the most odd is that Punk continues to tell us that he almost died because of this Staph infection. There is some misdiagnosis that can happen, and it’s not excusable. But Punk’s assertion that the doctors did not care to help him and he nearly died because of it is a large leap. Let’s put it this way: You work for a company, for a while, and while in the company you meet the man/woman you’re going to marry. And you get married while working there, and then you have a falling out with your bosses and leave that company. It would be fair to say that you might be fine with your wife/husband still working for that company. You understand that they still want to work there, still have goals and aspirations that need to be achieved etc. But if you almost died because of the incompetence of that company, would you not be yelling at your wife/husband to run away and get a new job immediately? CM Punk says the doctors are so bad at WWE, that they nearly killed him, yet he has no problem with his wife continuing to put her life in those same doctors’ hands weekly. To me, this becomes a hyperbolic statement just to get attention. 

CM Punk is hyperbolic and conspiratorial; which is a trademark of millennial culture. Punk can’t tell you that he was misdiagnosed and thinks that WWE needs to look at its practices. He has to frame it as a near death experience that ruined him. He can’t say that it was frustrating and insensitive to send him release papers on his wedding day. No, there is some conspiracy to ruin his special day. We now have Ryback coming out and saying that Punk never confronted him about the table incident. Which leads me to believe that every time Punk tells you that he told someone off, or said something to someone; it was really just the bravado in his brain. He wanted to tell Ryback off, but in the end he didn’t.

He also refuses to take blame. He continues to tell you he did not quit, he was fired. Except he leaves out the part where he says ‘I’m done” and walks out of the company while he was still under contract; you know, quitting.  He continues to fight that notion as to not look bad; which is dumb, because we all know Punk is a great marketer. I mean, it should be of no coincidence that he finally released “his side of the story” only about a week before he announces he’s signed with UFC. He’s smart, and he’s smarter than most anyone else out there as far as marketing. 

Pictured here: CM Punk (right) and his opponent for his UFC fight (left)

Pictured here: CM Punk (right) and his opponent for his UFC fight (left)

But now we are left without CM Punk on our screen. And the fans have noticed. They have now taken to chanting his name at shows. It’s basically the way to say “We don’t like this.” But I can’t stress this enough, if you are a fan watching a match and you chant someone else’s name you are the most disrespectful fan ever. If you chant for someone else while two men put their careers on the line, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. What other medium is ok with this? Do I chant “Iron Man” when watching a Batman movie? Can I chant at stand up comedians that I want to see Louis CK? Not at all, and this is where it all breaks down. Wrestling fans have become the most entitled fans on the planet. If they don’t get exactly what they want, they act like toddlers and throw everything off the rails. Notice the recent #CancelWWENetwork movement. Wrestling fans feel that they are entitled to get exactly what they want, and they don’t care if anyone else may want that story. Punk has become the ideal. Don’t like something, walk out on it. The ideas of responsibility or civility are lost on this newest generation of fans. Do you know how many Hogan matches I watched as a kid? Do you understand the difference between shoving Lex Luger down our throat and Roman Reigns? Do today’s fans remember Erik Watts? 

 

The larger point to this entire thing is this: Punk has created an image for himself as the “voice of the voiceless,” but in reality he never cared about anything but his own voice. Punk never met a compliment he wanted to give anyone, and in the end was a small cog in a machine. That’s all. He has become the darling and hero of people that don’t want to work to make a change; they’d rather sit at home. He’s a locker room lawyer. The new generation of wrestling fan is the same, entitled and bratty. Nobody ever owed Punk a single thing, and nobody owes wrestling fans any story. Pout all you want, cancel your subscription, walk out on Raw, or post angrily on Facebook. That’s the millennial way.

 

Punk likes to compare himself to Harley Race…Mr. Race would be disappointed in that comparison.