The former WWE Superstar finally opened up and explains on Colt Cabana’s The Art of Wrestling why he quit:
“People tweet me all the time that you can’t change [the company] from your couch in Chicago. I absolutely disagree, because that’s exactly what I did. When I split in January, they changed everything. Part of me thinks they changed a lot to spite me, and that’s fine, because certain people who deserved certain things, at certain times, got those things. And that’s something I never got.
I’m the fucking happiest I’ve been in at least three years. I thought this thing that I loved, that I thought I loved, it just made me so miserable all the time. When you boil it all down, I was miserable. I was unhappy. F*** it, I made myself happy. I left. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but it was also a long time coming.”
Unsurprisingly, CM Punk went on to talk about disagreements with WWE Chaiman Vince McMahon around creative control of his character and potential new markets being the deciding factors in his exit from WWE:
“I’m talking to Vince (McMahon), and I tell him that since I cut that promo, we got more mainstream attention. Everyone wanted to interview me, whether it was GQ Magazine, the cover of USA Today … I had legitimate companies approaching me, just wanting to give me money to sponsor me.
I had a big money deal on the table, and I went to Vince … I told him my idea, said I wanted to do this sponsorship thing. I deserved it. I got all these new eyes on the product, and he says ‘nope, you can’t do that. Sponsors for Raw would get mad, the other wrestlers would get mad.’ A year later, Brock Lesnar comes back, and the motherfucker has sponsors (Jimmy John’s).”
…Most (internet) fans already know this but Punk’s sudden exit changed several big storylines going into Wrestlemania. The original main event card was reportedly going to be Punk vs. Batista (won the Royal Rumble) for the belt but as we know, the main event was changed to a triple threat match involving Bryan, Orton (the defending champion at the time) and Batista. Punk was also rumored to reform The Shield after Seth Rollins defected to The Authority.
As he noted above, his exit created opportunities for other superstars who wouldn’t have had the opportunity otherwise. Most notably Daniel Bryan (back but not yet cleared to wrestle) and Roman Reigns (set to return next month).
The shakeup created by Punk’s departure seems have also pushed John Cena to advocate for giving other superstars the opportunity to shine. One could also say his dropping the belt to absentee Champion Brock Lesnar was his “reward” for speaking out against Vince leaning on him so heavily to sell the product to the mainstream.
Fans just want to see someone other than Cena or Orton climb to the top. Bryan was that guy before he got hurt and you can be sure Reigns was also being set up for a title run going into the Royal Rumble before his emergency surgery in September. Cena knows he and Orton probably won’t be able to keep things full throttle for too much longer and wants to make sure the guy(s) who will succeed them are in place before he passes the torch and steps aside.
Those last two paragraphs are speculation on my part so don’t read into them too much. I do know Cena is the kind of guy who doesn’t mind passing up a big match to give someone else a chance to shine. He did it for Ryback last year and did it for Daniel Bryan after Punk left this year, after all.