Paul Heyman reflects on that night in Chicago.
The story of former 5-time WWE World Champion CM Punk departing from WWE has been shared on various fronts and recounted numerous times. A series of events, frustration and unhappiness led to Punk deciding to step away from WWE. CM Punk, the character has not stepped foot in a professional wrestling ring since that Royal Rumble pay-per-view in January of 2014.
With what was a few weeks left to go until WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans, WWE made a pit stop in CM Punk's hometown of Chicago, Illinois and the crowd inside that arena was prepared to chant CM Punk's name throughout the show. Paul Heyman reflected on that night during a live show with Inside The Ropes and the footage of Paul talking about that March 2014 night in Chicago was recently uploaded to the Inside The Ropes YouTube channel. Heyman first explained in-depth that the company had to move on without CM Punk and added that it was not a difficult decision to make and stated that Punk did not know what was going to happen that night.
“No, [it was not difficult to do] because I knew I had an opportunity to do something that no one else could do. I’ll tell you how that happened: Vince McMahon did not know about the fact that it was a move to quote-on-quote hijack Monday Night RAW, and the entire show was laid out -- just including a Brock Lesnar/Paul Heyman promo and about 90 minutes before the show went on the air, I went to Vince and I said, ‘Are you aware of what we’re facing here just weeks before WrestleMania?’ And I showed him, on my phone, just a sampling of what we were about to face on that show." Heyman said. "That it was the determination of a very passionate fan base in a very passionate city to take over that show and heckle the show for three full hours chanting the name CM Punk. Now, Punk and I have seen this industry in very similar ways for a long time. The industry moves forward without you. The industry moved forward without Bruno Sammartino, the industry moved forward without Bob Backlund, the industry moved forward without Hulk Hogan, the industry moved forward without Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock, the industry, hey, in the past year, John Cena who has pulled this wagon -- has been the man in WWE for 15 years, John Cena made fewer appearances than he ever has on any given year that he’s had since 2002." Heyman said. "Company moves on. Company is gonna move on without Brock Lesnar, company is gonna move on without Paul Heyman, company is gonna move on without Roman Reigns and guess what, [the] company is gonna move on one day without Vince McMahon. It just is, and if it doesn’t move forward then what have we built? We’ve built something that means nothing because if it revolves around one person being involved, we’re screwed. It can’t revolve around one person, so Punk was gone, and the audience was gonna hijack the show.”
Paul Heyman stated that he planned on luring the crowd in and letting them get their CM Punk chants out so that he could then transition their focus over to Brock Lesnar versus The Undertaker at WrestleMania 30. Heyman shared some of the conversation he had with Vince McMahon when he approached McMahon about the idea of toying with the crowd, although in his heart, he wanted CM Punk to be truthfully be in WWE.
“I said, ‘Hey, our objective is to promote Brock Lesnar versus The Undertaker. Well last year, CM Punk lost to The Undertaker and that was the beginning of the downward spiral of CM Punk and Paul Heyman because it all fell apart after that and I’m gonna blame it all on the fans because they took Punk away from me and you know who else I blame besides the fans, I blame The Undertaker and I’m gonna teach The Undertaker a lesson. How? Since he let the fans take Punk away from me, being the asshole that I am, I’m gonna take the streak away from him and how do I take the streak away from him? Brock Lesnar.’ So how do I set it up? So, I said, ‘Let me f*ck with them. I just wanna go out there and f*ck with them.’ ‘God damnit man, what are you gonna say?’” Heyman then responded to Vince McMahon, “‘I don’t know. I’m gonna talk to them. I’m gonna lure them in. I’m gonna turn completely babyface. I’m on their side. Oh my God, I wish CM Punk... ‘God dammit! You’re gonna say CM Punk -- you wish he was here tonight?” Vince asked of Heyman and Heyman continued, “‘Yeah, because I do wish he was here tonight and you wanna know something, this guy, when he’s out there, blames The Undertaker for Punk not being here and I’m gonna take that streak away from The Undertaker.’” Heyman recalled. “I said, ‘Just give me 15 minutes. Let me go out there, reel them in and take it away from them and believe me, they’ll stop trolling. They won’t hijack this show because they’ll get all their CM Punk chants out and then they’ll pay attention to the WrestleMania matches that we’re promoting.’ I considered it a challenge.” Heyman said.
CM Punk's name came up while Monday's WWE RAW was on commercial break and to read more about that story, click here.
If the quotes in this article are used, please credit Inside The Ropes with an H/T to Fightful for the transcriptions.