In the testosterone-fueled sport of professional wrestling, where egotistical maniacs are commonplace, there are always going to be rivalries, long-running feuds and just general hatred among certain members of the wrestling fraternity. A lot of this is scripted, but on a few occasions it’s just about one person having a genuine feeling of revulsion and contempt towards the other. Often, such animosity is felt between wrestlers, the guys who actually have to go in the ring and exert their dominance over the other. But on other occasions, it’s the men who don the suits, the men who keep things ticking backstage, the men who sort out contracts and various other business-related matters who end up at the forefront of such disputes. That is the sort of dispute we saw between Vince McMahon and CM Punk.
When CM Punk had his contract with the company terminated - on his wedding day of all days – in 2014, it just added fuel to what had been a fiery period in the WWE for Punk, a period that had seen him clash on numerous occasions with the majority owner, chairman, and CEO of the professional wrestling promotion – Vince McMahon.
Throughout CM Punk’s nine-year tenure in WWE, insults were traded back and forth, with each man accusing the other of all sorts of things, but Punk certainly did more of the talking.
This very public beef between CM Punk and Vince McMahon certainly rocked the sport for a number of years, and has continued, even into Punk’s retirement. It proved to be very entertaining for wrestling fans, though much of it was not an act. Check out these top 15 shots CM Punk has taken at the chief – justified or not? read through these most notable instances and make your own mind up.
15 Not Letting Punk Walk With Chael Sonnen
CM Punk has been a fan of mixed martial arts for a long time and has also been a friend of Chael Sonnen's. They do seem like they'd make good friends. Back in 2012, Punk wanted to accompany Sonnen to the Octagon for his fight with Michael Bisping at UFC on Fox 2. McMahon refused, saying that there was no benefit in it for WWE and he went on to say the sport was barbaric. The fight was taking place shortly before the Royal Rumble and Punk felt him being at the event would only help the WWE.
"Tomorrow is the Royal Rumble so it'll get some last-minute buys and whether Chael wins or loses, no offense to Chael, nobody is going to be talking about him," said Punk in his pitch to McMahon. "They're going to be talking about the WWE champion walking him to the Octagon."
"Oh my God, Phil," Punk said McMahon told him. "No, we can't do that. That's barbaric. Somebody is going to die.' Then I had to remind him, 'I don't know if you remember Owen Hart or not, because he sort of died in your ring."
If Punk indeed said that to McMahon, that is indeed a vicious shot.
14 The WWE is Bad for his Health
Punk has constantly said how much better he's felt since leaving WWE. He said that he often felt sick and tired while in WWE and was constantly unhappy. Whenever you say something like that regarding a job, how is it not a shot at your boss? After Vince McMahon said on Stone Cold's podcast that he hoped for an eventual reconciliation with Punk, the Straight Edge Superstar immediately shut him down.
"It's way too f---ing early, I have no interest in f---ing going back," Punk said. "The difference in my appearance, my mental stability, everything across the board, now from 9 or 10 months ago, is so drastically different."
It's now been two and a half years since Punk left WWE and by all means, his stance hasn't changed.
13 Women in the UFC?
CM Punk poured his guts out on Colt Cabana's podcast back in 2014. He laid out every single beef he had with Vince McMahon and that even included a disagreement with McMahon over women fighting in the UFC. Punk detailed the exchange between him and his old boss to Cabana.
"Did you know that they're going to have women fight in the Octagon soon?" Punk said McMahon told him.
Punk said he replied: "Yeah and it's the f---ing coolest thing in the world and it's going to be the hottest f---ing thing, you'll see."
He went on to say that it was another example of how out of touch Vince was with what fans wanted to see. As we've come to find out, the women's division in the UFC has grown to be something big, with Ronda Rousey spearheading a revolution in the sport.
12 Pipe Bomb Promo
The date was June 27th, 2011, and another episode of Monday Night Raw had just come to an end. CM Punk had just beaten John Cena in a tables match before returning to the ring, grabbing a mic and embarking on a rant, during which he dispelled a heartfelt barrage of abuse towards McMahon: “Vince McMahon is going to make money despite himself. He’s a millionaire who should be a billionaire. You know why he’s not a billionaire? Because he surrounds himself with glad-handed, nonsensical, douchebag, yes men, like John Laurinaitis, who’s going to tell him everything he wants to hear…”.
Punk was about to really let loose before McMahon cut off his microphone – just as well because the fans may have been there all night the way Punk was going! While Punk had the green light to say what he wanted on RAW, it was clear Punk was not holding back and what he was saying was exactly how he felt.
11 McMahon’s Treatment Of Injured Wrestlers
After making his transition to UFC, the smack talk was still spewing from the mouth of Punk, with much of it, of course, being directed towards McMahon. This time, while Punk was recovering from injury, he criticized McMahon’s handling of wrestlers who were in the same predicament, stating that McMahon was just interested in “throwing a band-aid on a bullet wound just to parade wrestlers out in front of people.” Well if any more shots are fired from CM Punk, better get more band-aids handy!
Punk has taken every opportunity he could to throw his old boss under the bus. Punk has had several injury problems since he began training for his UFC career and the UFC has been very patient with Punk, knowing he'll still be able to draw at the box office. Punk did not waste the opportunity in praising his new bosses, while firing a shot at his old one.
10 Wrestling Is Fake
Another comment made by Punk after he had left the sport was that wrestling is fake - yes, shock horror!...and that McMahon basically picks people who he wants at the top. Of course, this is true, but his dismissive attitude towards wrestling, the sport in which he used to reign supreme for many years, is surely going to sting the hearts of his die-hard fans. This comment was surely directed as an insult to McMahon and his bitterness towards his running of the company – “he hand-picks who he wants at the top spot," implying McMahon has a meaningless role, one that doesn’t compare to anything in UFC.
Even if this was a shot at Vince McMahon, you can't help but feel Punk also insulted many wrestlers. Saying professional wrestling is fake is just about the biggest insult you could send to wrestlers. They pour their hearts in the business and WWE Superstars are on the road close to 300 days a year, which is just about the most grueling schedule in any sport and/or form of entertainment.
9 Contract Negotiations
One of the most memorable moments in WWE is when CM Punk and McMahon negotiated a contract signing in the middle of the ring. Punk drafted up his own contract and tried to get McMahon to sign, a negotiation filled with spats and squabbles. During the thirty-minute negotiation, Punk said a number of things, one of which rubbished McMahons anti-bullying campaign by calling him “the biggest bully he’s ever met in his life” – a campaign close to McMahon's heart – something that surely got him riled up.
Once again, while this exchange took place on WWE programming and Punk had to have had the green light to say it, Punk truly had to believe it in his heart. This feud was all about Punk airing out any dirty laundry he had with the company and there's no doubt there was an element of truth to this.
8 Stocks And Shares Jibe
In one fateful day in 2014, WWE stocks plummeted and McMahon lost a quarter of his net worth due to disappointing business outcomes. This didn’t go unnoticed by Punk, who used this to add some perks to his contract. He made it seem like McMahon really didn’t have a leg to stand on – “pick it up and sign it before the stock plummets some more,” referring to McMahon’s $350 million debilitating loss on May 16th.
McMahon's stocks had plummeted partially due to the fact that WWE had just introduced the Network and wasn't selling the amount of subscriptions that they had hoped for. McMahon lost his billionaire status thanks to this stock drop and considering Punk was fresh off his departure, there was no way he wasn't taking the opportunity to get a shot in on the chairman.
7 CM Punk Interrupts McMahon's State Of The WWE Address
“You should be kissing my feet and respecting me, I’m the best thing you’ve got. This disrespect has been like a slap in my face for years." So then guess what Punk does…of course he slaps McMahon, sending him sprawling to the ground. This was certainly one of the many heated exchanges between the two that got way out of hand and culminated in McMahon challenging Punk to a fight. You can’t slap the chief – ultimately your boss - and get away with it, right?
There's no doubt that Punk would love to do something like this to McMahon again. He might want to use the MMA training he's been doing the past couple of year. Hey, maybe in return for Brock Lesnar going to UFC, McMahon can get a fight in the octagon with Punk.
6 Criticism Of The Roster
As the longest-reigning WWE Champion of the modern era, with a reign at the top lasting 434 days, Punk’s fights surely deserved to be top-billing, the main event of any WrestleMania, but he was regularly shunned in favor of fighters like Batista. Punk called McMahon out on this after it was explained to him that he was not a draw attraction. “How do you know if you don’t give me a shot, if I’m not fighting with the best?” True, considering all Punk has accomplished. An “old man’s out-of-touch decision” as Punk eloquently described it.
There was an element of truth to what Punk said, as he was in fact the best on WWE's roster for some point in time.
5 This Isn’t A Team – It’s All About Individuality
It’s hard to know sometimes what’s scripted and what’s done unrehearsed. Punk’s speech on the day he left WWE was certainly heartfelt and used to get more of his frustrations out of his system, most of which was directed towards McMahon and his running of the company. In his speech, he claimed it was a struggle and fight for him every single day just to get noticed in the sport, and that the way he was treated as a champion was disgusting. We feel you Punk – we hope he gets the love he so desperately craves when he steps into the octagon.
Punk is perhaps the most outspoken a wrestler has ever been following a WWE departure and it's not going to change any time soon. You get the feeling than if/when he loses his UFC debut, he'll still find a way to take a shot at his former employer.
4 Toxic Environment
Punk accused McMahon of making WWE a “toxic environment” to be in and claimed that he was treating wrestlers unfairly by “creatively stifling” them in favor of others who didn’t deserve their shot in the limelight. That’s what we love about Punk, he’s straight-talking and wears his heart on his sleeve, a trait that’s endeared him to thousands of fans over the years. Because of this, Punk said he no longer wants to be in the ring and no longer loves the sport and business of WWE. Who can blame him for feeling like that?
Punk's claims aren't only his own. Several other wrestlers have come forward and said they felt they were held back by creative. Cody Rhodes recently asked for his WWE release for similar reasons, so maybe CM Punk isn't just talking for the sake of talking. Fans have long suspected this and it appears to be the case with the testimonies of many former WWE performers.
3 Criticism Of The Whole McMahon Family
One of Punk’s most memorable rants was when he took the mic and launched a scathing attack on McMahon, his management of WWE and his family. “This company will be better after Vince McMahon is dead, but the fact is it’s going to get taken over by his idiotic daughter and his doofus son-in-law and the rest of his stupid family.” In this instance, Punk got a lot off his chest, but was inevitably punished in the form of a suspension due to his unprofessional conduct as soon as the night’s show ended.
Punk has since said in interviews that while he got along well with Vince at times, he felt Hunter never respected him and took any opportunity he could to push Punk down a peg. You can't blame Punk for feeling that way, after Triple H beat him for no reason at Night of Champions 2011.
2 The Puppet Master
Likening McMahon to a puppet master was certainly a shot at the chief’s running of the company. Being a puppet in the hands of the master, the operator, wrestlers have no chance to shine, grow and develop – strong feelings from Punk. You’d thing a champion of Punk’s status would have enjoyed a better relationship with his boss, but by now, as we’re sure you’ve realized, there’s always been some form of tension bubbling under the surface.
Punk has always been the kind of individual who marches to the beat of his own drum. WWE is a corporate environment and it's clear Punk's outspoken, free spirited nature just didn't mesh well with McMahon's style of running things. Mind you, Dana White hasn't exactly shown that he's the most progressive person in the world, so you wonder how long it will be before Punk starts saying stuff like that about the UFC.
1 Wedding Day Blues
Understandably, after getting fired on your wedding day, things are going to get rather heated. To Punk’s credit, he handled the situation better than most people probably thought he would, and after he received his termination notice, it gave him an opportunity – not that he really needed one – to expel a few home truths about McMahon. “The firing was malicious, the timing was deliberate and the apology by McMahon after the firing took place was just a publicity stunt.” A nasty end to what had been a turbulent relationship between the pair.
McMahon stated in an interview with Stone Cold on the WWE Network that he was unaware Punk had gotten his termination notice on his wedding day. He even said he'd be open to working with Punk in the future, as he has with many other wrestlers who have walked out on his company.
You can never say never, but you can say it's about as likely as Vince Russo booking a one fall to a finish main event.