Late last night, a monumental return took place within the world of pro wrestling. It was a surprise yet predicted. It was a return, but not really. It was emotional yet none of us really have a stake in the matter. It also took place, coincidentally, on the same day I leave my locker room. Sometimes it helps to get thoughts on paper, and this is one of those times.
On a personal note, I start a new job on Monday. While my last day at my current employer is Saturday, due to vagaries of scheduling, today was the last day I worked with any of “my” people. I’m leaving these people, and in some ways it reminds me of CM Punk leaving five years ago.
Right after the January Royal Rumble event in 2014, CM Punk left the WWE. He was fed up with everything really. Body was broken down. The level of respect he felt he earned wasn’t there. Every path in front of him looked like the path he was already on. No changes. No next level. I’m simplifying, sure, but he knew if he didn’t leave at that moment it would equate to an acceptance of those boundaries.
Then last night, out of no where yet there were rumors, CM Punk returned on WWE Backstage on Fox Sports 1. Still not an employee of WWE, he is paid by FOX. To be on a WWE show. It’s a tenuous separation but one that needs to be there to save face on all sides. But I think if I said I’ll never work for Walmart again (I’ve never worked for Sam Walton, this is just an example) then got a new job handing out free food samples inside of a Walmart while wearing a Walmart vest but Nabisco signs my checks, I’m still going back on my self imposed decree.
This devil in the details would bother me more but the fanbase feels like Punk turned on us five years ago. I was one of his biggest fans. Living vicariously though this rogue talent who always punched through the ceiling. When he left the giant machine that is WWE I was prepared to support him in any other wrestling company. Either as a wrestler, manager, announcer, whatever. I would follow him to the next place. Then that didn’t come. Sure there were comics and UFC but neither of which set the world on fire or occupied the same amount of time in the last 5 years as his work did in the 5 before that.
I wanted to still support “my team” no matter what he was going through. Instead, he said he doesn’t need any of us and he’s walking away. Fans like me wanted a return on their investment. And no, Punk nor any entertainer doesn’t owe a single fan anything. They’re not our puppets. But what I think a lot of us wanted was an explanation. ‘Thank you for supporting me over the years. I’m moving on to the next stage in my life. I would like to take some time away from the spotlight, but when there’s something new to talk about I’ll let all my fans know.’ Instead, we all felt like ‘screw you, I don’t need you, leave me alone.”
Yet, I don’t know his life or what he was going through. I don’t know his side of things. Some stories that have trickled out recently led to me lessening my anger over abandonment. If what Punk says is true, then from his perspective I understand his next decision. Maybe I would have done something different, but I can’t fault him for what he did based off my new knowledge and understanding of events.
So I watched his surprise return multiple times today. I’ll watch next week. Because I’m hoping the character I became a fan of is back and the man behind that mask is content.
Then I also need to take my feelings as the one who feels left behind and turn it around today when I am the one leaving. While my friends would mock me for believing in CM Punk, when he left I felt a bit hurt. I stuck up for you, I supported you, and now you leave me? Well, there’s a good chance someone I worked with for years is feeling that today. Sometimes the only way to get through the work day is to lean on that one person. Everything sucks today, but as long as I’m not going through it alone it’s a little better.
Now I’ve left those people that leaned on me. The entire point is to make my own life better. Insurance, retirement, benefits, set schedule. Hopeful for things that improve my family’s life. Leaving certain stressful situations. Not a single reason to leave is anything against my ‘fans’.
And I wanted to say goodbye to all of them, but word has been out for weeks that I’m leaving. I’m not doing a farewell tour. You know when the last concert is, and if you want to see the show, you know that’s your last chance. I didn’t go into the audience to tell them all individually. But I did put up the announcement, so if you didn’t come to the last tour dates then that’s on you.
I know who supported me, I know who ‘bought my stuff’, and I enjoyed my time with them. But when it was time to go, it’s time. I told everyone and now I left. And I won’t be adding more dates, or opening up a forum to make sure everyone gets their piece in. I’m out when I said I was out. Some of you I’ll see again and we’ll talk. Even fewer will meet up for coffee or tea. But for many others thanks for the time we had but now it’s time for both of us to move on.
In the end I think I have to forgive CM Punk because it turns out I did the same.
Now to sue someone I’ve been on a podcast with…….