Former WWE and World champion CM Punk has been pulled from all advertising of WWE live events going forward after a meeting with WWE management yesterday at the Raw taping in Cleveland, Ohio.
We have been working on details for the last 24 hours (as Dave Scherer and I noted on our respective Elite audios earlier today), but the belief among those who are willing to talk about the situation is that Punk is no longer factored into company plans. Punk is under contract to WWE through July.
Punk was slated to face Triple H at Wrestlemania 30. This past Monday's Raw instead began teasing Daniel Bryan vs. HHH down the line, possibly for Wrestlemania.
We have heard from several sources that the original script for yesterday's Raw called for Punk to wrestle Antonio Cesaro and lose after Kane interfered, allowing Cesaro to qualify for the Elimination Chamber. It should be noted that another source has denied that and claimed that Punk was never booked to wrestle last night and was only booked to do a promo that would follow up on Kane causing Punk's elimination from the Rumble. But, Punk was originally slated to be on Raw and those segments were yanked. He was not backstage during the taping and was not backstage at Smackdown.
It is believed that when Vince McMahon had the writers re-write Raw late yesterday (6 PM for a taping that was scheduled to start at 7:45 PM), it was because Punk had informed the company he was going home and wouldn't be back.
While we cannot 100% confirm why, the belief among wrestlers backstage is that Punk leaving was not an injury issue. It was described to us as more likely a case of burnout and unhappiness with the overall direction of the company. Punk had been very vocal in the past about the usage of returning and "part time" stars being pushed beyond wrestlers who were working full-time for the company.
In his interview with Ariel Helwani last week, Punk talked about the crazy schedule he's held up working for the company over the last decade. Punk said that he's been doing it ten years and doesn't know anyone else who can say that. He said that he's only taken time off for injuries and that when he took two months off in 2013, it may not have been long enough.
Punk, who worked about 50 minutes in the Royal Rumble match was described as "pissy" after the PPV, although that wouldn't be an unusual description of Punk's demeanor backstage.
One source believed that since Punk's last goal was to work a Wrestlemania main event, it may also be a situation where Punk realized it wasn't going to happen this year and with his WWE deal expiring in July, that may have weighed down upon him because he was so goal driven and this was one he couldn't accomplish because of elements that were outside of his control.
In the interview with Helwani, Punk was asked about WWE killing his momentum at times and why such things happen. Punk responded that he'd like to think they don't make those decisions on purpose and it's more they wanted to go in another decision. He claimed it's a different era and different time and it can't be looked at the same way he did when he was a kid.
Yesterday, Punk wrote on Twitter, "Thanks for all the support. Keep being you guys, it's pretty cool."
Depending on how you read the statement, it could be taken as a cryptic farewell.
We'll obviously update more as we confirm additional details.