Where is CM Punk?
A few weeks ago, something unusual happened: "The Voice of the Voiceless" lost his voice.
It had been a little more than 14 days since his defeat at the hands of The Undertaker at WrestleMania in a valiantly fought loss — hardly a trouncing by any means — that no one in the WWE Universe thought any less of Punk for, even though he had it coming. But the defeat seemed to have taken a profound toll on the former WWE Champion all the same, and in a way even losing his 434-day title reign to The Rock had. Seeming at first to struggle with his words, the man who claimed to turn the microphone into a lethal weapon simply closed his mouth after a few moments, hugged his friend Paul Heyman and walked away.
Since then, Punk has gone virtually radio silent. Apart from a few sightings at various major-league ballparks and one UFC event, nobody seems to have seen hide or hair of The Second City Saint since he abdicated his chosen pulpit and sulked away into the shadows. Paul Heyman has, for the time being, at least, shifted his focus to Brock Lesnar’s preparation to face Triple H at Extreme Rules. The WWE Universe, meanwhile, has been left to wonder what’s become of Punk and, more importantly, whether a WWE ring will ever see him again.
As to the former question, Punk’s Twitter account has proved a somewhat helpful source of information. The Second City Saint has been fairly active in self-imposed exile, tweeting images from his primo spots in the stands at the games he’s been attending. So he’s hardly sitting at home washing his tights; at least it’s confirmation that CM Punk is somewhere out there in the world. Still, unless you’re planning on staking out various stadiums in the greater Chicago area (or unless you’re Chael Sonnen), odds of rubbing shoulders with The Straight Edge Superstar appear remarkably slim.
As for whether he’s returning to the ring, that’s where the matter gets hairier …
It’s no secret that Punk’s relationship with WWE has been complicated, and his history within the company has been filled with tension and glory in equal measure. But through it all, Punk has never been one for authoritarian regimes, and part of his success has always come from his willingness to fly in the face of WWE brass in the pursuit of his own goals. It served him for a time and even catapulted him to the top of the heap, but since Punk went into business for himself last summer, the WWE Universe turned on him and things began to change for the worse.
A suddenly paranoid-seeming Punk began to rely more on chicanery than skill in defending his title. He exploited loopholes, technicalities and random acts of fate to cling to that which was most precious to him, and in 2013, his modus operandi seemed to fall apart altogether. Not only did he lose his championship to The Rock, but an ill-fated attempt to reclaim the title was also followed by a kamikaze attempt to halt The Phenom’s WrestleMania Streak. Punk fell short in that endeavor as well; he left soon after and here we are again.
The last time Punk left WWE was summer 2011. That departure was supposedly permanent and turned out to be a cup of coffee with civilian life. He came back stronger than ever, but the difference is back then he had something he hadn’t proven yet: That he could be the WWE Champion and just as effective a standard-bearer for sports-entertainment as the John Cenas and Triple Hs of the world. He’s proven that now, and assuming The Streak will never be broken, there really isn’t anything left for CM Punk to do. Sure, there are one or two titles he hasn’t won yet (fun fact: Winning the U.S. Title would mean Punk has held every active championship in WWE, a feat only one other active Superstar can currently claim), but in terms of the symbolic statements he loves so much, the well has almost run dry.
Still, sports-entertainment is in CM Punk’s blood. And straight edge though he is, there’s no doubt the itch to compete again will be pulling him back as strong as any addiction he’s avoided through the years. While his Twitter account is a decent tracking device, he hasn’t tipped his hand at all to his mental state apart from a tweet that read “Chillow” on April 30. Unless he’s shilling high-tech pillows, one can only assume this is his fun way of saying “chill out.” Is it a message to the WWE Universe? Or just a passing thought during the seventh-inning stretch?
We know CM Punk is out there, but will he ever come back? Who knows. All that’s left to do is chillow and see.