WWE News & Rumors 2014: What's Next for CM Punk Following WrestleMania 30 No-Show?
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Another Wrestlemania has come and gone, and as WWE fans worldwide celebrate Daniel Bryan's new reign as world champion, and mourn the end of the Undertaker's undefeated streak at the hands of ex-UFC champion Brock Lesnar, wrestling fans are left to wonder: what does the future hold for five-time WWE world champion CM Punk?
The Straight Edge Chicago, Ill., wrestling mega-star, who holds the record for the longest WWE Championship reign of the modern era, made headlines worldwide when he walked out of WWE one night after the Jan. 26 Royal Rumble, the tattooed wrestling icon reportedly burnt out due to injuries and upset that returning former world champion-turned-movie-star Dave Batista was picked to win the Royal Rumble and headline Wrestlemania over other full-time stars like Punk himself and Bryan. His withdrawal from the public eye has left many fans wondering whether or not they will ever see the brash, talented, charismatic grappler dubbed "The Best in the World" in a wrestling ring again.
For the last few weeks leading up to Wrestlemania, the internet has been churning with potential rumors about Punk's return. One rumor infamously called for Punk to return in his hometown of Chicago during the WWE's latest taping of WWE Raw on March 3. Yet another 11th hour rumor claimed that an angle was pitched to both Punk and WWE Hall of Famer Stone Cold Steve Austin, having the Texas Rattlesnake give a Stunner to Punk that would have set up a highly-anticipated match between both outspoken superstars for Wrestlemania 31. However, none of those rumors came to fruition, as Punk has seemingly gone on radio silence, not addressing his absence from the company or his future plans to anyone, even, reportedly, to angry members of WWE management.
All things considered, it appears that Punk will simply run out the remaining time on his WWE contract before it expires in July, leaving the popular wrestling star-whose popularity has seemingly grown in his absence, free of any wrestling obligations and leaving his future completely up in the air. CM Punk, who goes by the name of Phil Brooks when he's not throwing up Muay Thai kicks between the ropes, could easily afford to walk away from the game now with his health still intact. However, there is a strong chance, given time, that the "Voice of the Voiceless" could eventually return, which is something that his legions of fans around the world are certainly anxious to see, now more than ever. With Wrestlemania 30 now in the books, a number of options are on the table for Punk going forward:
1) Walk Away, Don't Look Back
With the exception of headlining Wrestlemania - an honor that he arguably deserved - CM Punk has done it all in the business, and then some. And in that time, he's not only secured his legacy as one of the greatest wrestlers of his generation, he's also made millions of dollars for himself. Top it off, he's now reportedly engaged to WWE Diva AJ Lee (no doubt having a lot of male wrestling fans out there eating their hearts out). Assuming he handles his money right going forward, there's nothing but blue skies waiting for him if he retires now, healthy and able to enjoy the fruits of his labor. When it comes down to the choice of going back to work 200 days a year taking bumps for a company where he wasn't happy versus settling down and starting a new life away from the squared circle with a ton of money and a beautiful woman, it'd be hard to begrudge Punk for choosing the latter.
2) Test out MMA fighting; Maybe a Date with UFC?
It's no secret that Punk is a big fan of mixed martial arts (MMA). He's incorporated much of those arts into his wrestling style, creating a unique offense that has earned Punk the reputation of being "The Best in the World" when it comes to wrestling. One popular rumor that floated around in the wake of Punk's departure is that he might be going into mixed martial arts, possibly even Ultimate Fighting Championship. While Lesnar enjoyed success for years in MMA, he started out younger and with a much larger frame than Punk, who is 35 years old and has battle scars of his own from years of wrestling. He'd have quite a battle ahead of him trying to get into shape for an MMA career, but considering his track record when it comes to fighting the odds, it wouldn't be prudent to bet against Punk.
3) Pursue other Projects
There's more to Punk than just wrestling. Charismatic and intelligent, he's certainly capable of hosting TV shows, getting into acting or even foraying into the world of comic books, which he has a noted passion for. Mick Foley successfully parlayed his pro wrestling fame into a successful career as a writer and comedian; it's not hard to see Punk being able to do the same. However, none of these options may sound quite as appealing as the last one...
4) Return to WWE for One Last Run...Eventually
Love him or hate him, a CM Punk return to WWE would get people talking. Fans want the chance to see their favorite pipebomb-dropping, tattoo-sporting, GTS-dealing superstar step through the curtain one more time. With Punk's popularity growing hotter than ever the longer he's away, a well-timed return could easily vault Punk to the top again, and possibly even to a Wrestlemania main event if and when it does happen (this writer's personal bet would be 2016 for Wrestlemania 32). Punk's one of the most intelligent minds in the wrestling business today, and he'll know if the time is right for him to put on his kick pads again. Until then, wrestling fans can only wait and hope to hear those famous words - "It's CLOBBERING TIME!" - once again.
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