The last time we saw CM Punk, he was getting eliminated by Kane in the Royal Rumble. His character was moving in the direction of Triple H–Punk II at Wrestlemania XXX. The story never panned out though. Instead, he left for unknown reasons.
Daniel Bryan ended up carrying the load of both Punk’s storyline against Triple H, and possibly main eventing at the grandest stage against the two former Evolution lackeys. It took a few months, but with Wrestlemania around the corner, we have a reason for Punk’s sudden departure.
According to an alleged source close to Punk, WWE’s first straight-edge World Champion was dealing with injuries due to dropping Randy Savage’s elbow 300 days a year, disagreements with management and what seems to be some inner turmoil. The alleged source claims Punk hasn’t felt like he measured up since his 434-day title reign. This person close to Punk also says that he felt no matter how good his matches and promos were, he’d never fit the prototypical WWE wrestler profile.
If the source is right, this is less of a wrestling story, but more of a story which speaks volumes about the human condition. Everyone has goals they think will make them happy. They vary from getting that great paying job, getting laid at a bar in Bay Ridge wearing your finest I-Want-to-Get-Laid flannel shirt, meeting “the one,” or picking up where Wolverine, Bret Hart and Chris Jericho left off as the best in the world – a mantra few will ever achieve.
What I learned from CM Punk is it doesn’t matter how great you are. Low self-esteem follows you everywhere, even when you’re at the top. How can you ever feel good about yourself when someone who is a master at their craft isn’t happy with what they do?
I’ve heard a few people I look up to have the same issues. The one that blows me away the most is Richard Pryor. He didn’t think he was funny yet he and Carlin were the forefathers of modern comedy. If he didn’t think he was great, then how can anybody ever feel good about making people laugh? (I’m talking to you, hacks.)
Another legend who downplayed himself as a master craftsman was Stone Cold Steve Austin. On the special features disc of the Wrestlemania 19 DVD, (and the bottom of this article) there is a documentary centered on the event. In the documentary, Austin calls himself just another cog in the machine. This was the guy who changed wrestling and made Vince McMahon a billionaire.
We look at icons as infallible Asgardian-level gods, but they’re tortured by the same issues. Granted, these are nice issues to have. We never have to worry about somebody dumping a nail grenade in a Starbucks where hipsters are hard at work fighting the machine from a comfortable coffee chain. Anyway, they too have days where they feel like nothing can go wrong, and then the following day, something sets them off into a self-loathing lonely tailspin with the only remedy being an escape from everyone.
Keith Leanza, a friend and Long Island comedian, and I always talk a lot about the confidence of hacks. Being a hack is my fear, and the fear of everyone who creates. They are so hatable because they believe their five minute act is God’s gift to earth. It almost seems selfish to ever think you’re funny if Pryor hated himself.
Hearing Austin say he thought he was going to stink up the joint at Wrestlemania 19, or Punk feel he wasn’t the “prototypical” WWE wrestler, slightly makes me feel comfortable. I might not be a hack because I hate everything I write. (Although saying that completely makes me feel like a hack.) Guidance counselors never tell you your life will be spent worrying that everything you create will leave you feeling like the coffee dump you just had is on par with the article that went up a few minutes ago.
It must be a cruel joke from Odin that the only way to not suck is by hating everything you do.