Is CM Punk Returning To Wrestling? Submitted by Justin Watry on 09/12/2019 at 12:21 AM
Ladies and gentlemen, CM Punk is back in the headlines. Following Starrcast and All Elite Wrestling's "All Out" pay-per-view emanating from Chicago, it was only natural. He was in the area. He hosted a live question/answer session with the convention mere hours before the big event. That is not even to mention his new movie trailer being released (looks pretty good). Whether us wrestling fans love him or hate him, he is on the borderline of a full blown return to the wrestling scene. While this appears to have started up over the past couple of days, the truth is this column has been in the works for over a month now.
On July 22nd, I was asked to write a column on CM Punk's impending comeback to the industry he walked away from five years ago. I replied that it would drop in due time.
While trying to tackle my approach, I was faced with a bit of a dilemma. What should I do? Most people reading this already know my CM Punk ramblings. During his year plus long WWE Title reign, I predicted he would retain throughout it all until losing to The Rock at Royal Rumble 2013. Despite being called a 'hater' (false), you can go back and check the history. I not only praised his work all the time; I also listed him in the Top 5 of nearly every single category of my Year End rankings just weeks before he left WWE. I was absolutely a fan of his. The proof is in the pudding. Upon his abrupt exit and future decision - yeah, those I disagreed with and saw right through his much discussed Colt Cabana podcast appearance. I knew a guy that trained at his facility in Milwaukee and was well aware of his UFC chances before the fights, and I wrote about all of that BEFORE he lost in embarrassing fashion. Twice. From there, I never once called on for him to return to wrestling. Not once.
Until a couple of months ago.
In my 2019 BOLD predictions, the very first statement was clear - Punk was coming back.
That has already proven to be true with the Starrcast booking and if you want to believe the GTS hoodie run ins.
Again though, that begged the question - what should I do with this column?
One week removed from the much hyped AEW show from Chicago and the man himself being in town with HIS fans cheering on his every word, it feels like now or never. With said company ready to hit prime time on TNT and a live television debut a month away, the wrestling world will be holding their breath. I know this, you know this, we all know this. Punk is absolutely the biggest free agent out there, waiting to be sighed.
That is when it hit me.
Rather than myself yapping about CM Punk heading back to WWE or joining up with AEW and taking on his former boss, let me talk to the wrestlers themselves. I reached out to multiple stars from all over the globe. Male, female, past, present, WWE, Impact, Ring Of Honor, Japan, etc. The last time I did this was when I asked if anybody thought Seth Rollin was reckless inside the squared circle back in 2015. Remember that nonsense? Not one person said a negative word about him or bashed his in-ring skills. Every single wrestler I spoke to said he was at the top of his game and obviously wouldn't be in that main event position in WWE if he was dangerous.
Same rules applied here.
I simply asked for an opinion on CM Punk, his potential return and promised anonymity if wanted. While I will not post every single conversation, these were the best ones.
"I think it would be great for wrestling. He has a loyal fan base; he is a great wrestler."
This quote came from one of the top female wrestlers NOT signed to WWE right now, and she makes a great point. Let's be honest here. CM Punk has a DIEHARD fanbase. A super duper die hard fanbase that will defend him no matter what (and have). Ripping WWE? Hey, he was just speaking his mind. Over a year as the top champ? Yeah, but he didn't close PPVs all the time so boo to the company! Got crushed in UFC? Good for him, he showed bravery and guts. Handed a main card fight and did what he complained about with part-timers? Can't blame him. Regardless of the facts, his fans love the guy. He brings a (cult of) personality that very few bring these days. Even removed from the scene for over five years, he would instantly bring electricity and an aura to any ring.
The fact that he is a great wrestler is honestly irrelevant here. We all know what he can bring to a match. He would indeed be great for wrestling but like Chris Jericho, another run in WWE doesn't change much. A jump to AEW though? Big, big boost. Here is the next quote from a man who has recently been making waves in multiple companies...
"I love Punk. He opened the doors for guys like me. Small, tattooed, unfit to the mold. He gave hope to the majority that got treated like a minority. A lot of people are like us, and now a lot of us are pro wrestlers. Thanks Punk."
It feels strange to say, but CM Punk is 40 years old. He turns 41 in October. People whine about Brock Lesnar still being around; he is only 42. For a lot of stars wrestling in 2019, Punk is the guy they grew up on. We always hear stories of looking up to Shawn Michaels or Bret Hart or Stone Cold. That is yesteryear. Punk showed up on WWE ECW television in June 2006. Over 13 years ago. Before him, there were not a lot of guys like him. Certainly not main event level talent. Since then, all you have to do is look at the recent signings and NXT explosion. One could argue all of that dates back to CM Punk showing up and working his way to the top of the business. You can't tell me a lot of the youngsters in AEW right now are not salivating at the thought of working with their idol. He is over 40 years old. If there is a time to give back and help the new generation, it is to be "elite" and shift the entire industry on TNT.
It should be noted nobody I talked to would a) confirm CM Punk is actually returning or b) say which company he would sign with.
Our final quote comes from Killer Kross who is putting his name to this:
"He may not love the business of it but thereís no way he doesnít love being in the ring, performing his craft and being in front of people who appreciate his performances. He was a top 5 person for me that peeled me off my sofa to pursue what Iím doing right now after procrastinating the decision my entire life to pursue my first passion. And Iím not the only one. There are numerous generations full of people that he inspired to do this, and he entertained fans to such a profound degree that they still want to see him return. In all honesty and for selfish reasons; I hope he returns and will be fulfilled to come back. I wish the best for that guy either way with anything he chooses to do."
Thanks to Killer Kross for being the only wrestler willing to put his name on a quote. Good luck with your current contract situation sir.
This sums it all up. There are a lot of things to dislike about the business side of wrestling. That comes with the territory and is never going away. With any job there will be aspects you dislike. The key is to find happiness in what you're doing and follow your passions. I do not care what CM Punk may say publicly; there is no greater adrenaline rush than having a five star match or coming down the entrance ramp to Cult Of Personality as your hometown Chicago crowd goes absolutely nuts. You may get close next to the cage while commentating or hosting a studio show on FS1. Nothing compares to actually doing it though. Living it. Feeling it.
Now imagine doing that but also making change. Legitimate change. As CM Punk has stated before, you can't do that sitting on the couch...and pretty soon, he won't be. WWE or AEW, I don't care. I want CM Punk to be happy, fans to be happy, and fellow wrestlers to be happy. There is only one way for that to happen.