WWE superstar John Cena said Friday that he believes his championship match with Chicago-area native CM Punk at the Allstate Arena July 17 is still on even though Punk was suspended earlier this week.
The match, part of the Money in the Bank Pay Per View, appeared to be in jeopardy after Punk, who recently announced he will leave WWE once his contract ends, aired out his behind-the-scenes issues with the company on live TV Monday.
“From what I understand, he’s suspended, but I think the match will happen,” said Cena over the phone from Sidney, Australia, where he and his fellow WWE superstars are currently touring. “(Punk) reached an agreement to not talk badly about WWE. Technically, it’s two weeks before Money in the Bank, so he’s still got two weeks to screw it up for himself.”
WWE’s website announced immediately after Punk's rant that it had suspended him, but Cena said Punk joined the company in Australia as “a last minute addition.”
Besides criticizing WWE chairman Vince McMahon for surrounding himself with “yes men" and saying the company has underachieved from a business standpoint, Punk accused Cena – the face of WWE – of kissing McMahon’s butt.
Was the rant real or scripted?
Most likely it’s the latter -- at least partially. But the words were so critical and so personal that it’s hard to tell. And that’s what made it one of the most talked about moments in WWE in years. Espn.com columnist Bill Simmons tweeted “CM Punk's Monday Night Raw performance tonight was one for the ages.” ESPN radio and TV host Jim Rome publicly invited Punk to come on his show and finish the rant that was interrupted when his microphone was cut out.
(It should be noted that I requested an interview with Punk, a Bucktown resident, last week for my Money in the Bank preview. WWE decided on Wednesday it would be best if I spoke with another superstar, which turned out to be Cena.)
“WWE has a lot of events, but rarely do you see something this controversial and hostile,” Cena said. “I think people will talk about Money in the Bank for years to come. It will be a great moment for Chicago. A guy like CM Punk on live TV, you don’t know what he’ll do. I’m prepared for anything.
“It’s weird. Usually when a guy retires, we give them one last hoorah. But after what happened Monday, I don’t know. You have to wait and see. There are two more weeks. I’m interested and excited about all this, even if some of it came at my expense.”
Look for the full interview with John Cena in the Chicago Tribune July 15.