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CM Punk Wins Despite Loss

CM Punk UFC 225

CM Punk won his court case against WWE doctor Chris Amann but lost his fight at UFC 225. However, there’s a bigger battle that Punk won.


CM Punk
Wave goodbye to the UFC

Vindication is a powerful thing and for CM Punk he got that last week in the forms of the legal battle he’d been fighting since 2014 and his in ring battle against Mike Jackson at UFC 225. While it would be easy to mock Punk for the very one sided loss to Jackson, there’s a lot more to celebrate than there is to commiserate.

When CM Punk spoke on Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast about his experiences with WWE, his claims were pretty shocking to the point of almost sounding far fetched. From a misdiagnosed abscess which could have killed him, to not being allowed time off for injuries through being sent his termination notice on his wedding day, WWE did not come off well at all but some wondered if there was a little exaggeration in his claims. A significant percentage of wrestling fans had turned on Punk following his abrupt departure from WWE where he walked out on the Raw following 2014’s Royal Rumble but the podcast managed to win hearts and minds as fans realised how much he had to endure. When Dr Amann sued Punk and Cabana it undoubtedly put a huge strain on both men and at one point allegedly ended their friendship of more than 20 years. Being sued for $4 million plus punitive damages is a pretty life changing event and would have probably forced Punk to return to pro wrestling if he’d lost.

What no one was really prepared for was that WWE managed to look even worse during the court case. When discussing CM Punk’s concussion during the Royal Rumble match it was revealed that the show’s producers had been given the information about Punk’s injury and then made a call for Kane to put him through the announcer’s table. It also started to appear that the delays in getting to court may have been deliberate in order to deliberately schedule the trial right before Punk’s return to the Octagon, with Punk commenting, “If you know them and if you worked there, it makes a lot of sense. But I don’t know.” when asked by MMAFighting.com.  When the trial ended in Punk’s favour he’d finally had closure of four years of legal wrangling and emerged with his head held high even though it’s now on record that he once sh*t himself during a match on Smackdown.

After that Punk would go in interviews to say that he is done with wrestling and that it’s in his past, a position that the victory in court must have cemented. While his signing appearance the day before All In has raised speculation that he may appear at the event in some capacity but Punk shrugged these rumours off, stating that the signing event allows him to meet his very loyal hometown fans. He also noted that his crippling social anxiety may prevent him from watching the event from the stands. It really wouldn’t be a surprise to see Punk do something at the event though as it’s in his hometown and it’s a way to interact with a crowd in a safe environment, as he acknowledged that a lot of people make fun of his first match in UFC and how he lost fairly quickly.

CM Punk UFC 225
Equally, as CM Punk appeared in the octagon at UFC 225, the Chicago crowd welcomed punk with chanting his name loudly – something you’d expect from a WWE crowd, not a UFC one. Let’s be honest, Punk looked bad here and very much like he didn’t really know what he was doing – something exacerbated by his opponent Mike Jackson blatantly showboating for the crowd. While this could easily be perceived as a negative,  the crowd still supported Punk and the vast majority of comments from other UFC fighters on Twitter were of universal support for Punk’s efforts and how he refused to give up even though he was getting badly beaten at times. After the event Punk was taken to hospital to have a CT scan on his face as he’d taken such punishment during the bout, something that concreted the opinion that he’d shown a whole lot of toughness, if not skill.

In the post match press conference UFC President Dana White echoed the praise of others and seemed to confirm that CM Punk won’t be fighting again for UFC, stating, “No, it should be a wrap. The guy’s 39 years old. We gave him two shots, and he had a lot of heart tonight, and I think he should call it a wrap.”. White then went on to lambaste Jackson’s showboating, stating Jackson would not be returning to the UFC. After being cleared by the hospital Punk took to Twitter to joke about being 1-1 in the week; his good natured tweet keeping him in the good books of UFC fans who are very keen on respect and guys not bitching about losses.

CM Punk isn’t used to failure, love him or hate him he has succeeded at everything he has turned his hand to, with the exception being MMA. While Punk’s first UFC loss to Micky Gall was seen as embarrassing, especially as Punk’s face looked like a hamburger after the short bout, this second loss has won him a lot of respect from an audience who now see him as a tough guy who genuinely wants to be a part of the sport, rather than being a celebrity making a quick buck. Punk lost a battle but won a war in winning the respect of fans and his peers.

So what’s next for Punk? The easy road would be wrestling appearances but apart from a possible appearance at All In to officially say goodbye to his hometown fans, Punk is likely to stick the course with MMA but at an amateur level. No matter what choice he makes about his future CM Punk has put his demons to sleep and can finally hold his head high.

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10 of Wrestling’s Weirdest Moments in February

TNA blur referee

Censored referees, CM Punk almost on Raw, Champions leave with belts, belts turning into ear-rings, deleted footage, a superstar’s clumsy Raw and more of wrestling’s weirdest moments! Continue reading 10 of Wrestling’s Weirdest Moments in February

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5 Times Pro Wrestling Got Real (NSFW) #5: The Road Warriors v The Skyscrapers

Waylon Mercy

Pro wrestling takes a lot of flak for being scripted and not “real” like UFC but occasionally matters get a little heated and the wrestlers end up fighting each other for real. We look at 5 of the lesser known “shoot” incidents in wrestling. Continue reading 5 Times Pro Wrestling Got Real (NSFW) #5: The Road Warriors v The Skyscrapers

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Daniel Bryan Retires From Wrestling

On Raw, Daniel Bryan gave an emotional farewell speech as he explained that his career was over from suffering too many concussions during his time as a wrestler. While his retirement seems earnest, is he really going?

Bryan-vs-McGuinness
In September 2005 Bryan Danielson won the Ring of Honor World Championship and brought a very snug, stiff style to the title matches which made for compelling viewing but had many questioning the wisdom of two men hurting themselves in a ‘sport’ where the idea is to pretend to hurt each other. His defences were intense but his series of matches with Nigel McGuinness took things to a whole new level.

Their matches were so stiff that both men ended up working hurt. While both men made names for themselves with the feud, Danielson himself would later say that the price they both ended up paying was too high. Even after the feud was over both men were so beaten up they would go on to suffer further injuries – after a 60 minute match against McGuinness, Danielson would separate his shoulder in a match against Colt Cabana and spend the next 4 months working while injured.

In August 2009 WWE decided to sign both Danielson and McGuiness subject to standard medical testing. Bryan Danielson passed despite the shoulder injury, past concussions, a ruptured eardrum and surgery for a detached retina but McGuinness, having suffered two bicep tears and spinal compression from a botched piledriver failed. McGuinness would instead go on to sign with TNA and debut as Desmond Wolfe but end up having his career cut short when it was discovered that he had contracted Hepatitis B during his time in ROH from bloody matches.

daniel bryan

Once signed by WWE most wrestlers will tone their style down because a. They’ve now made it and don’t need to kill themselves to get noticed and b. Because WWE wants talents to work a safer way in order to prolong their careers and in turn generate money for WWE. The newly renamed Daniel Bryan didn’t adjust his style when he debuted in WWE and after only 5 months was fired for being ‘too real’ when he ‘strangled’ ring announcer Justin Roberts on air with his own tie. WWE advertisers were a little disturbed by the spectacle especially as it came only a few weeks after the third anniversary of Chris Benoit murdering his wife and child by strangulation. WWE let Bryan go and then brought him back 2 months later once the heat had died down. A month later Daniel was the US Champion as WWE’s way of apologising.

From this point onwards Bryan’s intense style would feature in the Money in the Bank match, The Elimination Chamber and others which were high risk matches. Often it felt like any moment Daniel may seriously injure himself with his breakneck pace. Also during this time he adopted the diving headbutt, a move invented by Harley Race but popularised by The Dynamite Kid and then adopted by Chris Benoit. Considering that The Dynamite Kid is now wheelchair bound and Benoit suffered so many concussions, many from the headbutt move, that he became so brain damaged he’d end up killing himself and his family, it seemed a spectacularly unwise decision.

Dynamite-Kid
Dynamite Kid in 2012 posing for Highspots

Daniel without doubt picked up concussions and worked through them as WWE talents are prone to doing as any time off will see them lose their spot and then have to rebuild momentum after time off.

On June 17th 2013 the beginning of the end started as Daniel Bryan suffered a stinger during a match with Randy Orton that had to be stopped as Bryan had lost feeling in both arms. Backstage an irate Bryan exploded at Triple H for calling for the match to be stopped as Triple H had finished a match years earlier with a torn quad.

Less than a year later on May 14th 2014 Bryan had to undergo neck surgery to repair nerve damage in his neck. While the surgery was successful, he refused to have a second operation that doctors wished to perform and concentrated on a return to the ring which didn’t happen until the 15th of January 2015. By this time WWE clearly wanted to avoid building the main event scene around Bryan while he was still freshly back but then bizarrely put him into the most dangerous match of Wrestlemania 31 – a multiperson ladder match.

Shortly afterwards, Bryan would be injured during an April match with a seemingly reckless Sheamus. While the details of the injury weren’t disclosed, Bryan was pulled from all advertised dates and eventually announced that he’d be taking an unknown amount of time off for a concussion related injury.

Daniel Bryan

By May Daniel Bryan was openly saying he was fine to wrestle and was waiting to be cleared by WWE, but WWE wouldn’t clear him. In July Bryan stated during a radio interview that he’d been cleared by a concussion expert from Phoenix who was used by the NFL but that WWE still wouldn’t allow him to compete and wanted to bringing him back in a non-competitive role. He even went on to say that if WWE wouldn’t clear him then he’d return to wrestling anyway, just not for them.

After being cleared by doctors at UCLA the WWE’s doctor Joseph Maroon still refused to allow Bryan to compete. Speculation started to build that WWE was being overly cautious due to the Benoit case or due to legal action between CM Punk and Maroon over claims of negligence.

At the end of the year Daniel Bryan was now telling people he was ready to return including posting on his Instagram pictures of him training for a return. Most WWE talents expected him to return as a surprise entrant at the Royal Rumble last month but yet there was no sign of him.

At the end of last week a number of sources had stated that Bryan had given his resignation to WWE as he fully intended to return to the ring but the resignation was rejected as WWE had frozen his contract months before. WWE contracts have a clause where if a talent doesn’t complete their deal then the contract can be extended; this clause was used against Rey Mysterio to prevent him from leaving after he’d been injured for nearly two-thirds of his contract and WWE had considered using the clause against CM Punk, opting instead to firing him on his wedding day.

Within 48 hours Bryan went from being held hostage by WWE’s contract to retiring. The announcement was made on Twitter presumably to entice a larger viewership for Raw and various talents were told by WWE to post on Twitter using the hashtag #ThankYouDanielBryan

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It seems strange that Bryan was so dead set on returning only to suddenly retire. In an interview yesterday he said that he’d been suffering seizures and has developed a lesion on his brain but there’s still a chance that Bryan is actually following the example of Ric Flair.

When Flair retired in 2008 it was after WWE pressured him to do so while Ric wished to continue. What WWE say goes so Flair retired but by the end of the next year was working in a ring again after leaving WWE and continued to wrestle intermittently for the next 3 years.

It’s possible that Daniel Bryan has staged his retirement so he can exit his contract and make a return to Ring of Honor or TNA at a later date especially considering his battle with WWE in his attempt to get cleared. At 34 years old Bryan is a millionaire who only has 85% of the strength in his right arm and suffers from some brain damage, it’s definitely time for him to put his health above the need to compete before he becomes another Chris Benoit or Dynamite Kid.

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Round up: Axl Rotten Dead, Sunny Adult Movie, CM Punk, NXT

Yesterday ECW original Axl Rotten was found dead in a McDonalds near a hotel he was staying at, aged only 44.

Axl-RottenBorn Brian Knighton, the name Axl Rotten was a combination of names from Knighton’s own musical taste – singers Axl Rose and Johnny Rotten. Debuting at just aged 17, Rotten was mainly known for his long feud against storyline brother Ian Rotten after the break up of their tag team Bad Breed. The feud helped but ECW on the map as the two battled in gruesome gimmick matches throughout the first half of 1995 culminating in a Taipei Deathmatch where both men wrestled with taped fists dipped in glue then broken glass; a gimmick taken from the Jean Claude Van Damme movie Kickboxer.

Rotten would go on to form the tag team The Hardcore Chair Swingin’ Freaks with Balls Mahoney in 1997 and would have memorable matches against the Dudley Boyz until he left the company in 1999. Rotten would then wrestle on the independent scene until the various ‘reunion’ events in 2005 where he’d appear for both Francine and WWE’s shows.

After years of drug addiction and suffering with Bell’s Palsy, in 2005 Rotten was told that he needed urgent spinal surgery but opted to carry on wrestling. In 2014 his L3, L4 and L5 discs spine in his collapsed leading to Rotten losing the use of his legs and being confined to a wheelchair. Chris Jericho initially brought Axl Rotten’s health issues to light in order to help finance the surgery and a documentary was also filmed in which Rotten discussed his health, his career and his recovery. The documentary is free to view on YouTube but contains strong language and blood.

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Another wrestling related personality making mainstream news this week is Tammy Sytch AKA Sunny.

Sunny
Sytch’s tumultuous life and struggle with alcoholism has made headlines numerous times over the last few years but after trying to sell her WWE Hall of Fame ring on Ebay, Tammy instead opted to do porn for Vivid Entertainment. Not a massive surprise as she’d been doing “camshows” for fans for a little while.

HollywoodLife has a feature on the movie along with a safe for work (if there is such a thing for porn) trailer for the movie – Sunny Side Up: In Through the Backdoor. The trailer autoplays but can be watched here.

Sytch is also releasing an autobiography which is supposedly a ‘tell-all’ book entitled ‘A Star Shattered: The Rise & Fall of Wrestling Diva Tammy “Sunny” Sytch’. Just runs off the tongue that one…no porn jokes please!

Sunny-Book
The book is available now on Amazon. Sytch will also be sentenced on March 28th for DUI charges and will be serving some jail time.
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WWE has parted ways today with NXT talents Bull Dempsey, Marcus Louis, Magno, Peter Howard and Sylvester LeFort.
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CM Punk is in the news again as he cut short an interview for Complex with freelance interviewer Kevin Wong after being unhappy with the line of questioning implying that he didn’t know that MMA isn’t fixed. The interview is actually a very well written piece and worth reading but is a good indicator of how much pressure Punk is under during his transition and the lines of questioning he’s normally subjected to. As with all things related to CM Punk outside the ring, expect strong language.