It’s Not a Sin to Feel

Crying CM Punk Fan

Let’s talk about pro wrestling since I’ve been getting more into it lately. While I’m a commentator for a local wrestling promotion, I’m not that big of a pro wrestling fan, or at least not as invested in it as my colleagues. I’m more of a combat sports fan, which informs my way of thinking in pro wrestling. But despite how ridiculous it can be in the bigger picture, people can be quite passionate about it. With AEW All Out 2021 close at hand, let’s talk about its centerpiece.

So, I’ve been thinking about that crying CM Punk fan and how he’s being made fun of. I was a child once. I was made fun of for crying as well. Idiots laugh at public displays of emotion all the time. But there are many angles to this, from toxic masculinity to the emotion that something like pro wrestling evokes, as well as the need for normalizing public displays of emotion in a society full of people who repress everything until they explode.

NOTE: As always, I’m almost two weeks late with this blog post. The good thing about taking my time is that I get to really take it all in and consolidate my thoughts. The bad thing is that it’s no longer interesting to read for most people as it’s no longer trending. But I went with it anyway since it was still a topic I felt strongly about.

What Happened?

A brief summary: Phil “CM Punk” Brooks walked away from WWE after Royal Rumble 2014 due to chronic problems with the company. He was then officially terminated on his wedding day. He would go on to try his hand at MMA and comic book writing, having made his fortune. After seven years, after giving pro wrestling a cold shoulder the whole time, rumors of his return culminated in his appearance in the second episode of AEW Rampage in Chicago.

They smartly kept the rumors going without confirming them until the last moment.

I remember when CM Punk first made his abrupt exit from WWE and looked to try other things. I watched the first episode of that show following him through his stint in MMA, and it was Duke Roufus teaching him how to throw a jab. I turned it off, because there was no way. Learning those specialized motor skills at 35 is no trifle. After that, I knew it wasn’t going to pan out.

Dude’s a pro wrestler. He had his problems, and he had to be wooed back in. How he got his ass thoroughly whooped for everyone to see and still be a draw in pro wrestling is because fighting ability is ultimately inconsequential in modern pro wrestling. Apples and oranges.

AEW flashed for a few seconds the face of a man crying while CM Punk made his entrance, a CM Punk fan who got visibly emotional at the occasion. It made the rounds on social media, and as usual on the Internet, the image of a grown man crying at a pretend fighting show was mocked. Later on, detractors of that mockery came to his defense, even pro wrestlers who appreciated such a dedicated fan.

Crying CM Punk Fan

That image and the reactions to it got me pondering. Have we seen fans crying in combat sports before? Maybe once or twice, but not at this scale. Not at this colossal degree. I’ve only seen fans this emotional for three different things—boybands, the Pope, and pro wrestling.

The crying CM Punk fan is this generation’s “It’s still real to me, damn it” guy. I say you should envy them as you’d be lucky to have such passion for something. Besides, there are things more ridiculous than being emotional about something so mundane, like wasting time hating on people who aren’t like you.

I can recall one fighter who had fans sobbing like that—Muhammad Ali. But that kind of pull is once in a century, especially in combat sports where machismo reigns and most participants are on a hair trigger for any slight they think is directed at them.

There’s a peculiar but alarmingly common tendency to view such passion for what’s seen by many to be a niche interest as undesirable eccentricity, and the primal urge to disinfect it like a harmful germ. I know this well, being a nerd who was ostracized in his youth.

For most, it’s something they grow out of as they later realize how good it is in life to have a deep interest. Many find it in films, TV shows, comic books, wine, knitting, K-Pop, gacha games, cryptocurrency, real estate, coffee, collecting vintage lunch boxes, and so on. Some of them get into people throwing each other around for entertainment.

Did You Cry When CM Punk Returned?

Nothing wrong with it if you did. I’ve watched the video of the entrance in AEW Rampage at least a dozen times by now. I’m excited for what he has in store for AEW. It’s a great time to be a pro wrestling fan. I haven’t watched this much pro wrestling in eight years, well after I got over my Dragon Gate obsession.

I’m not that big of a CM Punk fan. He’s an ornery sod; the type who would feel slighted when he’s made fun of by another wrestling promotion making a parody of him. He occasionally likes to make mountains out of molehills. From what I’ve seen, he’s quite the sourpuss.

That’s the main reason why I favor the other 2000s indie king, Bryan Danielson, who has greater technical ability and actually doesn’t mind working comedy matches. His bout against a pre-NJPW Kenny Omega at PWG 100 is proof of that, thumb wrestling and all.

I believe that Bryan Danielson is the best pro wrestler of all time in the western hemisphere.

Meanwhile, CM Punk isn’t that good of a wrestler. He’s neither athletic nor coordinated, and I especially hate his so-called roundhouse kicks. He stole KENTA’s finisher, he has no muscle tone underneath those tattoos, and you never know when he may get prissy about something.

But perhaps that adds to his appeal as he obviously worked hard to reach this point. Also, he likely went through such a grueling career without the aid of alcohol or painkillers. He did take antibiotics, so he certainly isn’t truly 100% drug free, but that’s nitpicking.

But all you have to do to understand his appeal is watch the ROH tribute video to him on YouTube, set to Miseria Cantare by AFI (I can’t find it anymore for some reason, maybe it has been set to private). I memorized the lyrics by osmosis from having watched it so many times. It captured what he was all about—straight edge, Chicago, and pro wrestling obsession. It can’t be denied that he oozes charisma, especially with young men looking for an edgy role model.

Also, I say I’m not that big of a CM Punk fan like how I say I’m not that big of a Bruce Lee fan. I, a Jeet Kune Do practitioner, am saying I’m not a Bruce Lee fan is quite the joke. With that said, I’d like to clarify that I’m not a fan of Bruce Lee as an actor. I’m more into him as a writer and thinker, but that’s also nitpicking.

I’m a fan of CM Punk, but with reservations.

Did Anyone Actually Make Fun of a Grown Man Crying?

Were there that many people making fun of the crying CM Punk fan? I tried looking for them on Twitter, and I only found one attention-seeking smark. Perhaps all the outpouring of support for him drowned out the childish banter, but I did see why that smark felt fine about mocking a fan for being emotional about the return of his hero—“CM Punk hates his fans.”

The justification for mocking the emotional response to CM Punk is the irony of cheering for someone who has shown disdain for his fans during his hiatus.

I don’t buy it. If he really hated the business and the fans, he wouldn’t have been choked up when he made that comeback promo in the AEW ring. Perhaps he just needed money, but this is the same guy who quit pro wrestling because it was taking a toll on his health.

So, it’s either laughing at a grown man crying, which is pathetic; or laughing at a grown man crying for another grown man known to throw public tantrums, which is just a tiny bit more understandable. But it’s still laughing at a grown man crying.

Such a person must be a riot at funerals.

Mocking Displays of Emotion

I remember being mocked by my family for being sad about letting a dove caught from a wedding reception fly out the window. I was sad because I wasn’t sure if I properly untied the wings. Before I could even begin to explain myself, they condescendingly asked this child if he was sad about letting his birdie go. Obviously, I rarely tell them about my problems.

Nowadays, whenever I recall such memories of real events, they chide me for talking about things that never happened.

Never mind that it’s toxic to mock people for having emotions. It’s the concept that you can’t show that you have problems that perpetuates this. The idea that you can’t show your distress because it affects the morale of the people around you and that it’s like complaining about nothing. You should be stoic even in the face of armageddon.

But it’s not a sin to feel.

Bottling everything inside makes things worse. Take it from a man who had to deal with being raised in a culture where feelings are routinely bottled up, only for frustration and anger to suddenly explode. That then compels people to bottle up even more, and the cycle repeats with gradual increase in intensity until the proverbial straw breaks the proverbial camel’s back.

When you live in such an environment long enough, showing genuine emotion becomes very awkward. You question yourself on whether you’re actually a good person or a psychopath. More often than not, your feelings are genuine and you do feel empathy, but having grown up in such an environment has left you with below average emotional intelligence.

Combine that with being taught to care only for yourself, you’d definitely wonder if you’re a psychopath. No, seriously. My mother hates it when I share.

Nowadays, I admire those who can freely express themselves, whether they’re happy or sad. I no longer see them as lacking self-control as I was taught to think over decades. Perhaps you may say that it was all in my imagination and that no one truly conditioned me to be a cold and placid individual, but I remember my childhood like it was yesterday.

I had no one to truly turn to. If I were to say that I was having problems, I would be rebuked because a child should not have problems like adults. I was gaslit by having the existence of my troubles be questioned. I was sheltered and provided for with more than they could ever experience in their youth, so I had no right to complain. I was fortunate and spoiled.

To this day, even in the presence of family, I feel alone. I dread gatherings. I’d rather be locked in a closet than spend time with them.

There’s stoicism, which I honor and respect, that is more about graceful allowance of emotion to pass through and be experienced. Then, there’s forcefully bottling in what’s never meant to be contained, which is the grave misinterpretation of stoicism.

Perseverance is not simply about enduring the unbearable on your own, but doing what’s best to get past it. If you need help, you get that help. That will enable you to endure, and it’s better if you have those people to help you endure.

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