As a professional wrestler, CM Punk prided himself on being the voice of the voiceless. He was a guy who was of the people, from the people, and he prided himself on telling his truth, whether positively as a face or judgingly as a heel. While it’s tremendously sad that his wrestling career has come to such a controversial and disappointing end, it is ironic that the very thing that endeared him to wrestling fans is what’s in question in a civil court in Cook County, Illinois.
If you haven’t heard, CM Punk – real name Phil Brooks – is being sued along with his former best friend Colt Cabana – real name Scott Colton – for libel and slander stemming from an episode of Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast in 2014. Punk, who left the company unceremoniously earlier that year, asked to be on the podcast to “tell his truth” of why he left. In the episode, he attacked Ryback, Triple H, Vince McMahon, and most notably, WWE’s ringside doctor, Dr. Chris Amann. He stated that the doctor was “one of the most worthless piece of s**t I’ve ever met” and that he had a repeated history of medical negligence. The most notable instance is a lump on Punk’s back which he believed was a staph infection, possibly MRSA, which went untreated as told by Punk, and his elimination from the 2014 Royal Rumble match in which he suffered a concussion and asked for medical assistance from Dr. Amann. Cabana is involved with the suit because it was his platform in which the story was told and magnified.
Dr. Amann, who many fans and Punk himself believe is being prompted and bankrolled by Vince McMahon and WWE, is suing on the grounds that Punk and Cabana “repeatedly and falsely impugned the integrity” of his ability to be a doctor, and their statements “are highly offensive in that they accuse [him] of a gross lack of integrity as a medical doctor, an inability to perform his professional duties as a medical doctor, and in placing the financial interest of his employer above life-threatening health conditions of his patients.” He also noted in a filing that his medical malpractice carrier (Hallmark Specialty Insurance Company) “has increased his insurance premium approximately 63%, quadrupled his deductible, and his policy has less favorable terms including, without limitation, the elimination of his right to consent to settle any future claims” and that other carriers “have declined to offer coverage to Amann as result of the statements published by Brooks and Colton or have offered coverage only on terms even less favorable”.
After a few delays and an attempt to settle by Amann, the trial officially started this past Tuesday, May 29th. And as expected, there have been a ton of interesting and possibly damning revelations so far. As it stands, Amann, Punk, and Cabana have taken the stand, as well as recorded video testimony from former WWE timekeeper Mark Yeaton, audio tech Timothy Gaeng, athletic trainer Larry Heck, referee John Cone, Kane (Glenn Jacobs), Vice President of Talent Relations Mark Carrano, and Punk’s personal Physician’s Assistant Patrick Duffy.
This trial is one in where neither party looks particularly good. Dr. Amann all but admitted that he violated HIPAA laws by giving antibiotics and Z-packs to wrestlers without a prescription or having them officially sign for it. He also admitted that he’s never felt that his job with WWE was in jeopardy, that he joked about the “Z-pack” line in text messages with friends, and that he’s not suing for emotional distress because he hasn’t seen a physician about it. On the other hand, Cabana admitted that he received a cease and desist from Dr. Amann for the episode of the AoW podcast soon after the episode dropped, and that he ignored the C&D and kept it up for 2 and a half years after, even re-uploading the episode after the server that hosted his website crashed. He also admitted that in a text message with CM Punk, Punk said “Poor guy, I almost feel bad. I was mean.” The episode in question also reached approximately 3 million views or more, which Colt ultimately agreed with.
CM Punk admitted that he was bitter at the end of his tenure at WWE, and that he wanted to bury the doctor, saying in a text message to his wife AJ Lee “I’m going to fucking email Vince and bury Dr. Amann. He also mentioned that he never told anybody else about the lump at WWE other than the doctor and AJ, that nobody else would’ve seen it other than those two, and that he never took any pictures of it or noted any meetings with the doctor on paper. Most notably, however, Punk broke into tears when asked to speak about the 2014 Royal Rumble, where he received a concussion. He said that he felt “helpless” when Dr. Amann supposedly told him “What do you want me to do?” when he asked for help.
In the other testimonies, some interesting tidbits were that due to the concussion Punk received in the 2014 Royal Rumble due to a clothesline from Kofi Kingston, Kane was sent out by the agents at Gorilla to eliminate him because he refused help and refused to eliminate himself. This moment was a big point of contention in the trial, as Punk stated that Dr. Amann didn’t seem to care about his well being, but Dr. Amann and the other WWE employees remember him and everybody else involved being concerned for Punk. Another interesting revelation was that Physician’s Assistant Patrick Duffy, who is Punk and AJ’s dermatologist and the person who treated Punk’s lump, mentioned that it ultimately was a cyst. He tried to culture the lump, which is how lumps are tested for staph infection or MRSA, and Punk declined due to not having medical insurance. Duffy also stated he gave Punk antibiotics, drained the lump, and that it was not MRSA or staph.
There was a lot of discord regarding the lump Punk speaks of. Even though Punk stated that the lump was on his belt line in the AoW episode, he admitted on the stand that it was on his left buttock, as did Cabana, AJ, and PA Duffy. There was also a lot of conversation about the size of the lump, with Punk stating that it was baseball or golf ball sized, AJ saying that it was zit sized at first to becoming the size of a small fruit, and Duffy saying that it was not golf ball or baseball sized. There is also a dispute of when the lump first appeared, starting anywhere from September to November 2013.
This trial is important in a number of ways. First off, the verdict could have ramifications on what is said on podcasts and radio shows. If it’s proven that Punk and/or Cabana willingly lied or exaggerated the story on the podcast and tried to damage Dr. Amann’s reputation as a doctor, then that could affect how interviews are given. Cabana’s podcast prided itself on it’s entertainment factor and as being a gateway for fans to see behind the curtain. If Punk loses, many podcasts and radio shows could change their questioning of wrestlers or entertainers in general. This also will likely end the hope that CM Punk will ever return to WWE for good. In having to relive his old life on the stand, Punk mentioned many times that he has moved on from that part of his life and that he regrets a lot of his old actions.
Slander is the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation and libel is published false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation. We have to remember that this is what is being judged in this case, and that Dr. Amann is not on trial. Truth is paramount in the case, because the judgement is so directly tied to whether or not Dr. Amann provided adequate medical care for CM Punk, and if Punk and Cabana knowingly lied or exaggerated their story on the podcast, leading to Dr. Amann having his reputation affected.
The link to the case information summary can be found here. While not the official case summary, this was directly found at the Cook County Records website.
A big thanks is owed to Nick Hausman (@WZrebel) and Ross Berman (@RossWBermanIV) from WrestleZone.com, Steven Muehlhausen (@SMuehlhausenMMA) from Fightful.com, and Gregory Pratt (@royalpratt) from the Chicago Tribune for their detailed reports from the court. Also, thanks to Christopher Harrington (@mookieghana) from Fightful.com and Bethany Krajelis from the Cook County Record for information used in this column.
Kevin: “Firefly Fun House” Bray Wyatt Is The Best Bray Wyatt
“He must differentiate himself from the old Bray Wyatt in some capacity, or else the character will be doomed to fail.” Do you agree?
Bray Wyatt is back in WWE in a whole new way, and Kevin is on board to see this continue over the old obsessive Bray Wyatt.
There’s a familiar sinister force permeating the walls of the WWE. Bray Wyatt is back, and this time around he’s a…children’s TV show host? Yeah, you’ve read that correctly. Bray Wyatt’s newest gimmick is that of the host of the “Firefly Fun House,” featuring a doll, a buzzard, and the man himself.
After weeks of creepy vignettes showing the buzzard and the doll, we finally got a taste of Bray Wyatt in his new role on Monday night. Wyatt introduced us to his new friends, atoned for years of being a bad man, and symbolically ended his former demonic self with a chainsaw.
All that is a lot to take in. It was wacky, it was bizarre, and it was downright goofy. And BRILLIANT.
I ate this segment up, and took to Twitter to pronounce its brilliance immediately after I finished watching it. I know it took the majority of people a couple re-watches to come around on it, but I was on board with this version of Bray Wyatt from the jump.
There’s something delightfully creepy about Bray Wyatt the children’s show host. He straddles that line between playing it straight and going off the rails perfectly, and while you know that something isn’t right, the character is still drastically different than “The Eater of Worlds.”
Let’s face it, Wyatt was in desperate need of a fresh look and character, and boy, did he get it. Before disappearing from WWE television last year, Wyatt had been treading deep water being stuck with Matt Hardy, and frankly, he had been in trouble dating back to the WrestleMania 33 loss of his WWE Championship to Randy Orton in a subpar showing.
That was back in 2017. Now, in the year 2019, we’re finally getting to see something new out of Wyatt, and it couldn’t come at a better time. Now, the question remains: where will he go? We’ve just had a Superstar Shake-Up, what seemed like an appropriate time to sort out Wyatt’s return, but that ship has sailed.
Is the host of the Firefly Fun House headed back to RAW, where he was before disappearing? Or is a return to Smackdown in order for Wyatt, where he ascended to the ranks of world champion back in 2017?
It’s difficult, because we still don’t really know what Wyatt is supposed to be. Is he still a bad guy,or is he some kind of demented wannabe hero? I think a character like this would thrive on RAW, but if Wyatt’s still going to be performing as a heel, then he might do better on Smackdown, a show that needs another heel or two.
Personally, I don’t see Wyatt as a heel in this character. He’s more psychopath than ever before, but I still don’t see him as a bad guy, but rather as a crazed man trying to make amends for his past wrongdoings. He could instantly become the most interesting character on WWE TV, and in my mind, he’s already there with one segment. Imagine how hot he’ll be with a few more vignettes?
But the thing that intrigues me most is what he’s going to look like in the ring? Is he going to wrestle in his khaki slacks and his Mr. Rogers sweater? Is he still going to use the End of Days as his finisher? What new wrinkles is he going to add to his entrance, to his moveset, to his overall character?
HE MUST differentiate himself from the old Bray Wyatt in some capacity, or else the character will be doomed to fail. People had gotten tired of the same old shtick for five years, and were yearning for something different.
Well, now different is here. But it will all be for naught if Wyatt still acts the same and wrestles the same, we need to see some change desperately. I expect to see more of this new, nutjob Bray Wyatt on RAW next week, and I can’t wait for it. This could be a real game-changer.
Tiffany’s Takes: WWE NXT (4/24/19)
NXT was loaded with action this week–how did it land for you?
Tiffany takes her Takes to Full Sail University and WWE NXT today, featuring Johnny Gargano vs Roderick Strong and more!
So, time for OG NXT and Johnny Gargano will face Roderick Strong, but will Undisputed Era stand together or will a jealous Cole wreak havoc?
Johnny Gargano vs Roderick Strong/Undisputed Era
I think we all figured when Gargano chose Roderick Strong as his UE opponent that Cole wasn’t going to be happy, and we’ve all seen definite signs of dissent in the Undisputed Era ranks, but I was honestly surprised by how this match ended. Cole vs Riddle promises to be great. I can’t stand Matt Riddle, but him pointing out that Cole was jealous was perfect.
Gargano vs Strong was every bit as great as it promised. Strong’s a great athlete and letting him show that off in this match was a great move. Having Cole accidentally cost Strong the match and having Riddle come in to help Gargano was the perfect amount of chaos to end the match while protecting everyone involved.
I don’t know what next week will hold for Undisputed Era, but Strong basically telling UE to f**k off after the loss isn’t a good tiding.
Jaxson Ryker vs Humberto Carrillo
I have a question: Is Jaxson Ryker the only competitor in Forgotten Sons? Seriously, when is the last time Blake and Cutler had matches? Don’t get me wrong, Ryker is a great, albeit psychopathic, competitor, but I’m a little tired of him being the only member of Forgotten Sons competing.
The match with Carrillo was fantastic, even if Carrillo had a little trouble getting started. The Double Countout was a smart move to protect both guys, but I loved thorough line of having Oney Lorcan, now on 205 Live with Humberto Carrillo, and Danny Burch come to Carrillo’s rescue and keep Forgotten Sons from completely destroying him. This should be a fun feud.
Aliyah and Vanessa Borne vs Candice LeRae and Kacy Catanzaro
So it seems like Candice LeRae is being groomed to take the belt off of Shayna Baszler if this match was anything to go by. I love Aliyah and Vanessa Borne, but I was disappointed by this match because it became clear very quickly that the whole point of the match was to make Candice look stronger when she got a pretty easy pin on Vanessa Borne. It’s nothing against Candice, but I hated seeing Borne Bougie getting sacrificed like that.
Women’s Division vs Shayna Baszler
I’m not sure what WWE is thinking, but if you want to keep Shayna Baszler looking like a badass, DON’T have her constantly getting cheap shots on anyone she deems a threat, whether they are or not. She doesn’t look like an unstoppable badass, she looks like a punk, which is a disservice to her. Plus having Shafir and Duke being her lackeys hurts them too.
I APPLAUDED Mia Yim’s promo, especially her calling out Biance Belair’s constant insistence that she was still undefeated, even though she’s lost to Baszler twice, for the nonsense that it is. I’m totally behind Yim getting another shot at Baszler, especially since Belair didn’t have to earn her second chance while Yim hasn’t gotten another one.
William Regal had a hell of a career but, in my opinion, he’s at his best as an authority figure and I’m glad he’s loosened up from his days as the strait-laced Commissioner of WWF in 2001. I love Ohno demanding his…right to try out the shiny new NXT toys and I have a feeling he’ll regret demanding a shot at KUSHIDA, which is probably why Regal gave it to him. Sounds fun.
Street Profits vs War/Viking Raiders/Experience
I’m still puzzled as to why Street Profits got a shot at the NXT Tag Champions, whatever they’re called this week, but the match was fantastic. Dawkins and Ford did the smart thing by getting the jump on Rowe/Erik and Hanson/Ivar (I honestly am not sure which Viking name goes with whom, I’m just guessing), but it was for naught because the Nordic dudes got themselves together and absolutely thrashed the Profits, but the Profits definitely proved that they belong in the Tag Title picture.
Great episode of NXT! Much like NXT UK, the matches and segments all had a purpose and were pretty good.
The disintegration of Undisputed Era seems to be moving much faster than the first ending of the Shield and I’m a little confused as to why. Undisputed Era hasn’t been called up to RAW or SmackDown, so I’m not sure why there seems to be a rush on breaking them up. Granted, having Cole ‘accidentally’ costing Strong the match and his clear jealousy of Strong getting the first shot at Gargano could be leading to Strong breaking off and feuding with Cole, but it’s not clear where Fish and O’Reilly will end up in this.
Well, that is it for Tiffany’s Takes for this week! Next week, we’ll be looking Week 2 out of the 2019 Superstar Shake Up and see how RAW and SmackDown will deal with the fallout of this week!
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