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CM Punk breaks his silence, discusses WWE departure

Over Thanksgiving weekend, CM Punk went on his friend Colt Cabana's podcast to finally explain why he left WWE back in January.

In the span of the two-hour podcast, he fully explained, from his view, why he felt he needed to leave WWE, citing numerous injuries, illness, and general discontent with the way he was being used in the company. He didn't hold back either, calling out, to various degrees, Vince McMahon, Triple H, Ryback and, most notably, the WWE doctors.

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Let's start with the doctors, as that is what has caused the most uproar since the podcast was released. He talked about being compelled to work, even when suffering through injury, or recovering from surgery. A few specific examples include when he was recovering from surgery in November 2012.

If you remember, he was facing Ryback (more on him later) and had to be pulled from the TLC pay-per-view. Despite Punk's physician saying he needed 4-6 weeks to recover, Vince McMahon wanted to have him wrestle in a TLC match just 2 1/2 weeks later, saying that he needed to move past Ryback to push forward to the program with The Rock. Punk did end up agreeing.

He also cited another example when was recovering from surgery, was not supposed to wrestle, but was booked on the card after the doctors, specifically WWE doctor Chris Amann and noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews, cleared him without even seeing him in person. He also claimed the WWE concussion policy was inadequate, allowing wrestlers to compete when they probably shouldn't, and he said it was created more to cover the company in public than to actually help the wrestlers.

The biggest bombshell he dropped regarding the doctors came in regards to the very end of his WWE run. In late 2013, he developed a mass on his back that the doctors refused to do anything about. He started to get ill at the same time, to which the doctors simply gave him Z-paks, which are widespread anitbiotics, which he used for several months, as his condition continued to get worse. Finally, after leaving the company, he visited a doctor that his then-girlfriend, now-wife, AJ Lee used in Tampa. The doctor quickly diagnosed the mass as a full-blown staph infection.

For their part, the WWE issued a statement to Yahoo over the weekend, saying "WWE takes the health and wellness of its talent very seriously and has a comprehensive Talent Wellness Program that is led by one of the most well-respected physicians in the country, Dr. Joseph Maroon."

Moving on from the doctors, Punk said he got along with most of the other wrestlers in the locker room, including guys like John Cena and Batista. However, one person he went after on the podcast was Ryback. Punk said that wrestling Ryback took "20 years off of my ... life".

He said Ryback was a "steroid guy" and claimed that Ryback was either "too stupid to wrestle" or was intentionally hurting people, and he brought up in 2012 when Ryback gorilla-press slammed him, which was supposed to result in Punk going through a table. However, he missed the table entirely and ended landing directly on the concrete, leading to that surgery in late-2012.

Ryback, for his part, went on Twitter and responded, saying in a series of later-deleted tweets, "For the record if I quit for being fragile and insecure I would make up excuses too. Things didn't go my way for a long time and I kept going day in and out. Slander is a powerful thing and to state complete made up nonsense for no reason shows his insecurities. I will continue to bust my ass study matches every chance I get, cut promos when driving and push myself for hours on end even when hurt. Thank you."

He later added on Twitter: "Last message on this. I will tell the truth about @CMPunk comments in due time. Not once did he ever confront me. Let's all move on. Thank u."

Finally, Punk cited his dissatisfaction with the direction of the WWE. He talked about consistently working the best matches of the night, citing his matches with Undertaker and Brock Lesnar in 2013 specifically, and yet he still often lost the big match. He was particularly upset about not being involved in the main event of WrestleMania in 2013. (It ended up being The Rock vs. John Cena, and Punk was campaigning to be added to as a third competitor.)

Despite being told by many in the company that he was having the best matches, he also was being paid less than some of the other competitors for the same show, he said. Between the injuries, illness and finding out he was being booked to face Triple H at WrestleMania, it all boiled over after Royal Rumble, where he confronted Vince McMahon and Triple H, and decided to leave. After being suspended for leaving, he finally was officially fired on, of all days, his wedding day.

Now, it's important to note that this is only one side of the story. It is also worth noting that, despite what has been written elsewhere, at no point did Punk say he was absolutely forced to wrestle. He brought up time and time again that he always chose to accept to wrestle because he wanted to be a company guy and wanted to prove himself to McMahon that he could be the face of the company.

However, the pressure to wrestle certainly appeared to be there, and the alleged misdiagnosis and downplaying of injuries certainly raises red flags on company policy. This isn't the first time that we've heard stories like this, though it's certainly the furthest and most specifically someone has delved into it.

If nothing else, it shows that while some wrestlers have personal physicians that they go to, it should be something that all wrestlers do if they can. Easier said than done, but it's as much a reflection of the mindset in the locker room that this is allowed to happen as it is a slight against the company. While CM Punk feels that unionization -- something that will likely never happen for many reasons, partially because it could have negative effects on the wrestlers as well -- is the way to get it done, a change in mindset could also help.

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Granted, that's not likely, but I truly hope that more wrestlers look after themselves as much as they look after their careers.

No matter what the fallout, it's good to finally hear CM Punk's side of it. He's supposed to be rejoining Colt Cabana this week for a Q&A, so we'll see what more comes from it. I'm sure there will be more to talk about then.

Questions? Thoughts? Leave them in the comment section, email me or find me on Twitter: @TheAOster

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