Fantasy Booking CM Punk’s WWE Return

Just to piggy back off of my CM Punk article from October (, I figured in the wake of CM Punk returning to World Wrestling Entertainment this past weekend at WWE Survivor Series: War Games 2023 that I should do a little bit of fantasy booking of what to do with Punk now that hell has frozen over and he is back in the WWE.

You may know by now that I felt like CM Punk was barely in the wrong with everything that went wrong in AEW for him. His issues with Hangman Adam Page was instigated by Hangman. His issues with the Young Bucks were exasperated big time when they charged into his locker room after he called them out for leaking negative stories to Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez. His issues with Jungle Boy Jack Perry was exasperated by Jack being a petulant child on their biggest Pay Per View ever, All In at Wembley Stadium. The rhetoric being pushed by these dirt sheet writers and die hard AEW fans is that of CM Punk being a pure cancer, and difficult human being to work with. He might be difficult to deal with if you poke the hornets nest, if you do things that you aren’t supposed to do just to take a shot at somebody, or, I don’t know, you run a company because you want to be friends with wrestlers and you don’t really know how to be a boss or a leader.

Bringing CM Punk back is a massive shot to the arm of WWE, and a massive blow for AEW. What will transpire here is pretty damned obvious to me, I bet you anything this run with CM Punk in the WWE is going to produce great content. He is not going to have to worry about man children going into business for themselves, because the environment is so strict in WWE, nothing of the sort is likely to happen and you don’t have EVP’s in positions that aren’t warranted who are going to be fearful of their proverbial ‘spot’ and the love and adoration of the money mark Billionaire’s son, and owner of the company. This is going to show how messed up things are in AEW now, because if Tony Khan couldn’t make CM Punk’s return to Pro Wrestling work, but WWE can, then it is only going to highlight the clear ineptitude of AEW. With Triple H driving the company and in charge of creative, and without the out of touch 78 year old Vince McMahon constantly pouring his toxicity and fuddy duddy nature with the booking and writing of the show, you are going to get exactly what a CM Punk return to professional wrestling should be. I literally have no doubt in my mind Triple H will make good on this and make this work.

To get down to business, what kind of scenarios would I like to see now that Punk is back? You may remember there was a time where Bret Hart had been gone from the WWE for around 13 years, and hell froze over – Bret came back. I would do something similar to that. I would have CM Punk show up at the top of the show on Monday Night RAW in his return to WWE Television and sit down in the middle of the ring and talk as if a pipebomb is on the cards. I would call out Triple H for a conversation. I can already feel the ooh’s and ahh’s of the audience. I’d have them be real and talk about what lead to Punk leaving. I would let it all out in the open, to the point where they both point out what eachother did wrong, and admit wrongdoing on their own behalfs, and shake hands. As the segment is about to end, I would have Seth Rollins stroll out there and start the process of him turning heel by getting in Punks face and trying to rain on his parade, and talk again, about how CM Punk is a cancer to Pro Wrestling. Nobody wants Punk to come in as a heel, and if he works with Seth Rollins from the outset of his return, I think Seth would be better served as a heel. The only flaws in kicking off the feud in November 2023, is that the goal would be for the first match to be for one of the Main Events of WrestleMania 40 next year, in April for Seth Rollins’ WWE World Heavyweight Championship. If it’s not Seth, then the first program needs to be somebody who equally has a prior issue with Punk. If The Miz was still a heel, boy, that would work! 

The main goal would be to set things up with CM Punk and Seth Rollins for WrestleMania 40 in one of the Main Events. It would show a real act of good will on WWE’s behalf by giving him the one thing he always wanted to achieve and never could, to Main Event WrestleMania and close out the show. Seth needs to be the first big BIG feud for Punk, because of their prior issues, and because Seth really needs a formiddable ‘name’ to work with that will put focus on his WWE World Heavyweight Championship, and give him an angle that’s believable and not going to just be done where you know he’s retaining the title in all his defences, like with his feuds with Finn Balor and Shisuke Nakamura. 

If it were me, I would have CM Punk and Cody Rhodes be the final 2 in the next WWE Royal Rumble. That would really put everything up in the air over who’s winning the Rumble, and it would create an unpredictable situation, and give us a moment to remember. I wouldn’t be offended if you had Punk win the Rumble to face Seth at WrestleMania, leaving Cody to find an alternate avenue in which to finally challenge Roman Reigns again on a differing night at WrestleMania 40. You could always have Roman screw Cody too, but that’s an angle for another fantasy booking session. 

We have only got the WWE Royal Rumble and WWE Elimination Chamber (from MY city, Perth, Western Australia as stops along the way to WrestleMania 40. Either way, Cody or Punk need to win the WWE Royal Rumble match, and the other needs to win an Elimination Chamber match to get the WrestleMania 40 shot against the opposing World Champ. Perhaps Seth ducks and weaves from Punk for months whilst also targeting him, Seth could always cost Punk the Rumble but be unable to do the same with the Elimination Chamber Match, because he won’t be able to get into the chamber! Does Punk beat Seth Rollins for the WWE World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania 40? Probably not. But at least we told that story of his return and how he got his WrestleMania Main Event, and you can always switch the belts at WWE Backlash in France in 2024, or hold off until SummerSlam. Either way, I do think CM Punk should get at least one more title run before his career is over, and then after that all of his angles can be personal issues based off real life tensions like he has with The Miz, Roman Reigns, Drew McIntyre, etc. It would make for great TV to have worked shoots that don’t end up being ruined because somebody forgot that they’re supposed to be a WORKED SHOOT.

If I could list a few opponents that would be intriguing to see Punk work with – AJ Styles comes to mind. Kevin Owens. Drew, Roman, LA Knight, The Miz, Cody Rhodes, Santos Escobar, Bron Breakker, Gunther, The Judgement Day, Austin Theory, Lashley, Grayson Waller, Solo Sikoa, the list goes on! He’s got so many fresh matchups waiting to happen, an eventual heel turn to come his way, 

I think these first few months are important for Punk because when he came in to AEW, it took them so long to kick off some sort of real feud for him, as we got the weekly love-in with him on commentary. We need to cook with gas as soon as he arrives on WWE Monday Night RAW or WWE Smackdown – we need something to sink our teeth into IMMEDIATELY! 

This run with WWE is going to show the toxicity doesn’t exist within him, it only exists if the environment surrounding him instigates it.

This run with WWE is going to show how exactly his return to Pro Wrestling should have been handled in the first place, and I have all the confidence in the world in Triple H and CM Punk that this time they are going to make it work.

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Karlifornia is a Freelance Journalist for RealProWrestling.Com and TheRockpit.Net and Host on the Insiders Edge Podcast through his YouTube channel, the WZWA Network. He has been a die hard Pro Wrestling fan since 1998, and his favorite time period in wrestling is the Attitude Era/Monday Night Wars.

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