The CM Punk Fan Incident: How WWE Avoided a PR Nightmare

WWE wrestler C.M. Punk. (courtesy of IMDB.com)

Fans of WWE’s “sports entertainment” are very familiar with the physical nature and hard hitting moves of the WWE superstars. Each Monday night, millions and millions of screaming WWE fans tune in to see larger than life characters perform hard hitting maneuvers inside the ring. On October 8th, fans tuned in and witnessed a sight that was much unscripted.

During the main event match between “good guy” WWE Owner Vince McMahon and “bad guy” WWE Champion C.M. Punk, the heel had the owner down on the mat when the script took a twist and another performer Ryback came out and saved his boss while beating Punk down. Punk then grabbed his belt and ran through the crowd to avoid further harm. It is very common for “heels” to run away when the heat is on, however what happened next was quite uncommon.

While Vince was berating Punk on the Microphone while the champ was looking at him on the arena steps, many fans became physical with the champ. Fans were smacking C.M. Punk, younger children were threatening to push him down the steps, and Punk received some punches including once in the kidney.

Viewers at home were not aware this went on, as WWE cameras were panned in on Vince cutting a promo on the mic, but however they were in for an unscripted surprise when the WWE cameras panned in and accidentally caught Punk getting physical with a fan for a brief second. Even Vince was caught by surprise. While McMahon was screaming on the microphone, as he usually does, there was a point in his promo where he looked stunned and had a hilariously uncomfortable three second pause.

Here is where the story gets interesting. Not even an hour had passed after the incident when social media outlets blew up discussing what had happened. Within minutes the incident was trending on Twitter. Shortly after that, a fan that was at the live event recorded the Punk incident came forward and uploaded the video. That’s when media took that footage and criticized WWE and CM Punk for the incident. One media source even called the C.M. Punk punch unprovoked.

Immediately after that, WWE and C.M. Punk addressed the media. Punk quickly apologized, owning up to the incident. Punk went to WWE.com and told them that the whole incident “sucked” and talked about how he was punched in the ribs three times. Punk added, “Unfortunately, I lashed out in the heat of the moment and I apologize. I’m really just glad nobody was hurt.”

WWE focused their statement on security issues. They apologized that they did not have proper security in place to not only protect the fans in the stands, but just as importantly, their workers.

I feel that the WWE and C.M. Punk handled this incident pretty well. Punk apologized to the fans for his behavior and WWE in turn apologized to not only the fans, but also to the workers for not providing them with the security needed to protect them from unruly fans. Imagine how life would be like if you a bartender and you didn’t have security guards to protect you from drunken people angrily waiting for their drinks.

WWE wisely took this isolated incident and used it to address not only the punching incident, but also the bigger picture issue which is security at live events.  A PR smack-down was averted.

Scotty Mullin
Chief Financial Officer

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One response to “The CM Punk Fan Incident: How WWE Avoided a PR Nightmare

  1. I think its interesting that Punk remained in “character” as he reached out to fans. How scripted WWE has become to increase drama makes the whole experience surreal. Fans and stars alike have a disconnect and when the scripting goes out the window it gets ugly quickly. Some fans don’t realize that the fantasy has ended until then. The WWE has got to rethink its security measures and events in order to avoid flubs like this happening again.

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