Nowadays professional wrestling has lost its luster to many former fans. The former scores of tens of millions who huddled around their televisions to see Hulk Hogan, The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin do battle on Monday nights have tuned out. World Champion Wrestling (WCW) is long gone and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has lost roughly half of its former audience. The product has immensely changed during the mass exodus.
WWE is now a “Family Friendly” program. Many of the former practices have been banned for the sake of wrestler’s safety. After the horrific tragedy involving former champion Chris Benoit in 2007, where Benoit murdered his wife and child before hanging himself, WWE has taken a harsh stance on head injuries and concussion effects (which, according to the coroner, may have caused Benoit’s homicidal tendencies). Nowadays WWE and Dr. Joseph Maroon, a leading neurologist, have teamed up to make assurances that head injuries would be dealt with in a quick and safe manner.
At least that’s how it appears on the surface. According to former WWE employee and top wrestler CM Punk, what goes on behind the curtain is entirely different. During a two hour interview on “The Art of Wrestling,” a podcast hosted by independent wrestler Colt Cabana, Punk told many stories about what happens behind the scenes in WWE. Much of the interview was about Punk’s exit from the company, which was plagued with bad blood and anger. However, he also went into great detail about how he was forced to work injured due to misdiagnoses from Maroon and other doctors on WWE’s payroll.
At the time of his exit in January 2014, CM Punk was working with broken ribs, a knee that desperately needed surgery, an undiagnosed infection on his back—later diagnosed as a potentially fatal staph infection by a doctor unaffiliated with WWE—and a concussion. According to Punk, the staph infection was being met with no worries from WWE doctors due to fears it would put him out of action for a few weeks. Upon Punk’s concussion and subsequent neglect by Dr. Maroon, Punk had had enough and walked out of the company. Since then he has fully healed and is now set to become a writer for Marvel Comics.
During the interview Punk had choice words about his treatment in the “meat grinder” as well as a concern for the safety of other wrestlers. He claims that the public face of WWE is nothing but a facade and that backstage there is hardly any care about wellbeing.
At the time of this writing, WWE has not responded to Punk’s allegations. His story is gaining mainstream attraction causing an in-depth look into the backstage practices of the organization. An image is beginning to develop depicting the face of wrestling as perhaps nothing but a mask hiding a factory that deals in the destruction of human bodies for corporate profit.