All Elite Wrestling (AEW) commentator Jim Ross recently discussed on his podcast, "Grilling JR" on WWE not being sold on CM Punk and him being treated unfairly in the company:
“Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. He was a — I don’t really want to — Really, in the practical application in this matter, Punk was never really treated overly fair just as the personal interaction of a talent. He was not outgoing. He was certainly not an ass-kisser, and if you’re not a sycophant sometimes, and that’s the only thing that’s making you stand out and ingratiate yourself to all the decision makers, you can find yourself being dealt a tough hand.
“But as he became more valuable as a commodity, and I can tell you this, the fans did that. The wrestling fans themselves started buying into Punk’s persona. They started buying into his act, if you will, his presentation. And they loved what he brought to the table because he was so different and so unique. And it was very, very obvious that CM Punk was not a creation of the office.
“And sometimes, when you come into WWE already with your ‘gimmick’ or your name or whatever, sometimes it’s a rough start. Sometimes, you don’t get that running start that you like to have because if WWE did not create you in that respect, they’re going to refine you and make you better. It comes down to communication and ego, and Punk was a quiet, introverted guy oftentimes in that environment. I didn’t find it ever to be sullen or moody to me because I understood him.
“And also, I was not in a position at that time to really influence much of his career other than calling a match here or there because [John] Laurinaitis had taken that role. And I don’t know how Laurinaitis and Punk got along. I know that sometimes if you got talent that you can say is ‘high maintenance’ — you know, Stone Cold Steve Austin was high maintenance. He didn’t trust anybody. He had a very great sense what he was doing, what he could do well, what he couldn’t do well.
“He also had a feeling about how he interacted with — Austin was not the most social guy in the world. He became that more often because when you become more accepted, then it’s easier to get more involved in this thing from an emotional standpoint. But Punk was a lot like Austin in that regard. You had to get to know him, but you wanted to get to know him once you saw that this son of a b*** was the real deal, and Punk was the real deal, much like Stone Cold.
“So, there’s nothing wrong with being ‘high maintenance.’ It’s up to the administrator to figure out what’s it going to take to communicate with the high-maintenance talent. And as we did with Steve, and I don’t think that they quite got to that level with Punk. I don’t think that he was embraced because of who he was, how he looked, his lifestyle. All those things, for some reason, just didn’t appease or appeal to some of the higher-ups as you mentioned. And it’s unfortunate because he was really never a bad guy.”