CM Punk was scheduled to make an appearance at a UFC event in his hometown of Chicago, the night before the Royal Rumble, where he would have escorted Chael Sonnen to the octagon prior to Sonnen’s fight with Mark Munoz. According to MMAFighting.com, Punk stated that it was WWE CEO Vince McMahon — not UFC president Dana White — who made the decision to nix Punk’s appearance.
Though WWE does have a non-televised Supershow live event scheduled for Evansville, Indiana, during the UFC event, CM Punk was not advertised for it. Instead, the advertised main events are John Cena vs Kane, and Daniel Bryan vs Mark Henry vs The Big Show. So why did Vince McMahon feel the need to cancel CM Punk’s appearance at UFC?
Can it be that Vince McMahon does indeed feel that UFC is a direct competitor? Seeing as WWE announced the induction of The Four Horsemen into the WWE Hall of Fame, which would involve inducting Ric Flair — who is currently under contract with Impact Wrestling — WWE clearly does not see Impact Wrestling as a competitor. Yet, pulling Punk from the UFC event does raise questions of McMahon’s awareness of the new pay-per-view juggernaut.
But why even okay the plan to have Punk escort Sonnen to the octagon in the first place if that were the case? Remember Rocky III? Rocky entered the squared circle with Thunderlips (Hulk Hogan) for a cross-promotional fight. Rocky, who had allowed fame and fortune get to his head, was manhandled by the much larger and stronger pro wrestler. No one, except for Rocky, underestimated Thunderlips’ ability to fight. The reason is because pro wrestling was still considered real.
Vince McMahon has always tried to protect the image of his company. Before WWE was known as a wrestling company, but now it has become a sports entertainment company since the secret is out that pro wrestling is predetermined. With MMA now considered the new pro wrestling in respect that no one is questioning the legitimacy of its fighters, McMahon might be afraid of tarnishing his company’s image if its top-tier World Champion is seen in the “real fighting” world.
Despite CM Punk being Chicago’s hometown hero, UFC fans may not respect him enough in a MMA setting. So, it’s not so much that Vince McMahon does not want Punk there because UFC may be WWE’s competitor, but McMahon either not wanting his Superstars to be classified as fighters, or his fear that his WWE champion will be mocked amongst real fighters.
Instead of WWE making a big deal the second a WWE superstar or Diva trends on twitter, or how many talk shows and award shows they attend, or the plethora of USA Network/Syfy original series cameos that a WWE superstar or Diva make, why not take the opportunity to bank on the publicity that appearing on UFC could bring?
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