Former WWE Superstar and current occasional WWE Backstage pundit CM Punk thinks WWE made the wrong decision by deciding to move forward with WrestleMania 36 instead of postponing it, and he's not afraid to say so. Punk dropped another one off his "pipe bombs" on the No-No Show podcast on Stitcher. On the podcast, Punk blasted his former employer's decision to move forward with the annual event both for the weird atmosphere caused by a lack of an audience as well as the danger it could make people sick.
"WrestleMania 36" Without the Mania
"Pro-wrestling, I find it completely impossible to watch with no crowd, impossible," Punk said. "The audience is the 100%, and this is more evident than ever now, driving force behind what wrestlers do in the ring. When I wrestled, that was my boss."
Punk explained that an audience provides feedback to wrestlers on what is and isn't open, allowing them to adjust accordingly. The crowd also adds legitimacy to the matches, creating immersion and disguising the illusion of sporting competition. Without it, the whole thing is exposed, and that will be true at WrestleMania.
"It lends credence, in my opinion, to everyone who argues that wrestling is just this fake fight, it's a simulation, it's pre-determined acrobatics," Punk said. "Without the audience, without the emotion and the adrenaline, I mean, fuck, that's what I feel like I'm watching. I feel like I'm watching a video game."
A Dangerous Decision
Punk also feels that refusing to push back the date of WrestleMania was "stubborn" of WWE. In sporting leagues like Major League Baseball, Punk pointed out, the organization would consider postponing opening day. He points out that one advantage of postponing WrestleMania is they could have held it in the Summer in an open-air arena in a part of the country they normally couldn't because of climate. But most importantly, Punk is worried about how continuing to film matches could get wrestlers sick.
"I think it's completely strange. I hear all the rumors of who's sick, and then you got all these guys, whether the culture there has changed or not, are gonna be job scared, so then they're gonna show up and then they're gonna get someone else sick, and obviously that's how a virus works," he said, referring to complaints he made after his time with the company that it encouraged wrestlers to work while sick or injured. "It was just very strange. Instead of being a leader and taking charge and being like, 'Hey, you know what, let's reschedule this, let's refund everybody's money.' I also think, as a performer, man that sucks, it's gotta suck. It's gotta totally be the worst thing ever."
Ultimately, Punk called the decision to keep WrestleMania as scheduled "obtuse," adding, "Oh, you're still going to do it. Oh, ok, well that's not what I would have done. Oh, you're making it two days instead of one. OK, well alright, that's not what I would have done but OK. Then on top of that, they pre-taped stuff. So I'm sure they're all kind of spoilers out there, so what's the incentive of even watching it on Sunday."