Should CM Punk Return to WWE?

Things have quietened down again on the CM Punk front. After AEW All In at Wembley Stadium on August 28th and the drama that unfolded, CM Punk was “fired with cause” by Tony Khan after an “investigation”, despite the fact Tony witnessed the entire drama with CM Punk and the entitled brat Jack Perry. If I was CM Punk – Phil Brooks, I’d have two words for AEW.

Good riddance.

I know a lot of people had been pointing the finger at CM Punk because of all these reports of him being a tyrant backstage at AEW Collision, having people be told to leave the building, denying Jack Perry a spot that involved real glass, among other things. I honestly just found the whole thing to be funny. I want to do a little deep dive here, and I want to make some estimations and assumptions as to what the heck went wrong with Punk and AEW, and what I think about the option for Punk to return to the WWE after all these years.

When CM Punk joined All Elite Wrestling and showed up for the ‘First Dance’ on AEW Rampage on August 20th, 2021 – it was a LOVE AFFAIR! When I look back at that – the joy everybody felt to see the one and only CM Punk return to professional wrestling, it makes me really sad, and somewhat disgusted that just over 2 years later, we’ve arrived at this destination. It’s a destination where CM Punk is no longer in AEW, having literally been driven out of the company. You know what? I actually think perhaps about 10% of this is Punks fault. I’ll explain why.

When CM Punk returned to Pro Wrestling – every week it was a love-in. Punk was jumping into the crowd, enjoying the time with the fans, cutting fun promos, joining commentary, and it was all building up to AEW All Out 2021. Myself and my co-host Jooseyboy covered that PPV for the WZWA Network, and we gave that show a 9/10. Top to bottom, it was SUCH a great show. Things just didn’t seem so complicated at that point in time. The roster wasn’t bloated like it is now.

Do you want to know what I think happened? I want everybody reading this to think about it. Prior to CM Punk being IN LINE to take the AEW World Title from Hangman Page, was there one instance of drama backstage, caused by CM Punk? Did you ever hear anything about him stirring anything up? We can all make our assumptions about Colt Cabana suddenly disappearing from Television, but the fact is, we don’t know if he had anything to do with his former friend losing his job. Just like I am making these assumptions now. What do I think happened? It’s so simple. CM Punk feuded with Eddie Kingston going into AEW Full Gear 2021. They legitimately don’t like one another and don’t get along. They actually had a fantastic match. That’s a sign of 2 professionals. 

What happened after this? Feud of the year with MJF. CM Punk was firing on all cylinders upon his return to Professional Wrestling. Guess what else was clearly happening? He was becoming Tony Khan’s favorite. How do I know this? Look at how Tony defended CM Punk during that Media Scrum when somebody brought up Eric Bischoff’s comments that CM Punk was “the biggest financial flop in the history of wrestling”

Tony lost his proverbial you know what, albeit kind of embarrassingly, but still – you listen to those words he said. 

“No one person has ever made a more positive impact,” Khan said. “We just did a record PPV buy, every PPV, he’s done a four PPV cycle now, every one of them was the record … he did the First Dance, he’s done the record Double Or Nothing, he did the record All Out on his debut, he was a big part of a record Full Gear a great match with Eddie Kingston … Then he showed up and did the biggest program in terms of everything, TV, box office, ever with MJF … He’s the biggest part of financial success in the history of this company.” – Tony Khan, AEW Double Or Nothing 2022 media scrum.

Look at what he said. No one person has ever made a more positive impact. He’s the BIGGEST PART of financial success in the history of this company. Tony said these things, with Punk next to him, wide eyed, filled with rage that somebody would dare criticize his decisions, and his beloved, favorite, CM Punk.

Who might be somebody, or some people that may get a little jealous over comments like that? Who might be having car rides and phone conversations together and group texts with one another raging? What does the E in AEW stand for again? The Elite. The guys that started this company with Tony Khan and Cody Rhodes. They started the company, and they’re hearing that CM Punk has made the most positive impact. Wow. Put yourself in their shoes, that would piss you off, right? That might make you a little paranoid about your spot, and your standing right? Considering EVERYTHING they had done up to that point, had not grown the company’s popularity whatsoever.

Tony can’t blame himself and his lack of ability to write a cohesive Television product, because if he does that, his world comes tumbling down because he’d be admitting to himself he isn’t actually good at the one thing he thinks he’s good at – trying to follow in the footsteps of a SELF MADE BILLIONAIRE – my point is, Tony would be looking for reasons to go Punks way, because of his Merch sales, and the belief that all these ratings and revenue records were off the back of CM Punk. Oh boy, that would piss The Elite off. Tony would be looking to put blame elsewhere on any of his shortcomings as a booker, so the first ones to get some finger pointing may very well be… The Elite!

What does The Elite have to do to protect their spot? They can see this thing slipping away from them. They moan about it together, they bring up what they consider to be issues with Punk, and they get each other worked up about it. THE FIRST INSTANCE OF DRAMA was because of who? Adam “Hangman” Page. I am finally circling back to this. Hangman was in line to drop the title to CM Punk, and once Punk wins that title, the power has certainly shifted, hasn’t it? So Hangman goes into business for himself, and says things on the mic, on a Live TV program, that he did not have permission to say, and what do you know? You poke the hornets’ nest, and now you’ve gone and pissed CM Punk off, and for what reason? Because they want to make him look bad, because they see their company slipping away from them. 

This all leads to AEW ‘Brawl Out’ in 2022. CM Punk had broken his foot soon after beating Hangman Page for the AEW World Title, and spent some time on the shelf. Whilst he’s having time away to heal, what starts happening? More and more negative articles spread around by the dirt sheets about CM Punk. Who are Dave Meltzer’s favorite wrestlers? The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega. By the time Punk is ready to return, are you surprised that he’s even more pissed off than he was when Hangman went into business for himself?

Sure, CM Punk shouldn’t have cut off Tony Khans sack at All Out 2022, and he probably shouldn’t have gone on the tirade he went on as he dressed down The Elite. They’re EVPs of the company. CM Punk is a powderkeg. Why in the hell would they barge into a pissed off CM Punks’ locker room? What did they think was going to happen? Again, poking the hornets’ nest, you get stung. How embarrassing for all of them. 

Also – Why do you think Cody Rhodes really left?

They all get suspended. People are not sure what’s going to become of this. Will Punk ever return? Will the Elite lose their EVP status? Will The Elite make amends with Punk, will he reciprocate, will they work together and have the biggest angle in AEW history and draw a shit load of money? There were so many questions. Of course, the results were disappointing.

The moment they could, suddenly Colt Cabana wrestles on Dynamite, after Punk is suspended. How strange, right? The EVP’s suspension ends, and they return to TV. Their first match, all of the spots were again, poking the hornets next, making fun of CM Punk’s previous botches of the Buckshot Lariat, making fun of the incidents that took place during ‘Brawl Out’ – in the middle of a trio’s tag match! Way to make the business look even more fake fellas.

The Elite got to have their vanity project back again, they win the Trio’s Tag Team Titles, belts that nobody really asked for and is already getting relegated to PPV Pre-Show matches in late 2023. More vanity projects with the nonsensical angle with Don Callis turning on Kenny Omega for Konsuke Takeshita. Kota Ibushi gets signed because he’s Kenny Omega’s friend and the guy has zero charisma. Life goes back to normal for them and they get to do whatever they want to do. BUT. The shift of power changed yet again. Warner Brothers Discovery wanted CM Punk back. He was the one that drew the highest numbers. The most merchandise. The highest grossing gates. He was now the golden child. That had to aggravate The Elite even more that he was literally being given his own show!

He was going to be returning, and as we have come to find out, Punk wanted to make amends with The Elite and do business. They wouldn’t talk to him, like children. They did the wrong thing by the company by not going where the money was, by working a long term angle with CM Punk, with FTR flanking him. Instead, they selfishly denied the one angle people actually wanted to see because they know CM Punk would smoke them on the mic, and they would look bad in comparison. It’s simple human psychology. Still afraid of losing their spots.

The incident with Jack Perry, a renowned friend of the Elite, was yet again, instigated by Jack Perry, not CM Punk. I don’t give a shit what anybody says. You can’t be mouthing off ‘inside comments’ looking at the camera, targeting them with words that are designed to antagonize, when you aren’t even going to be working with that person going forward – that is a huge no no in the wrestling business. That’s the kind of thing that WILL get you smacked upside the head. That’s exactly what happened. Punk was probably just tired of this circus of BS all perpetuated by The Elite and their friends. No wonder Punk lunged at Tony Khan and made him piss his pants and think his life was under threat. Tony can’t control his locker room like he can’t control his bladder when a monitor lands on him and somebody is barking in your face with Pepsi breath, and he can’t stop these little dickheads from doing whatever they want to do because they all think they know everything. Look at Hangman’s comments about taking advice from Legends, need I say any more? Look at Jack Perrys shit attitude toward Anna Jay name dropping Dr Tom Prichard at a Q and A in England, and him whinging about Billy Gunn trying to coach him on how to, you know, wrestle without making it look stupid. 

Anyway, whatever, CM Punk gets fired. Good riddance. 

You may read all of that and think I’m some kind of CM Punk die hard, but I really am not. I think he is too hard nosed about a lot of things and he cuts people off too easily, and I think he can be a dick. Here’s the thing though. I still feel sad for him that we went from the love-in from his return, to where it’s ended up where fans are aggressively screaming “**** CM Punk” during Elite matches, which I honestly found disgusting. The dude was the reason for the first million dollar gate, feud of the year with MJF, ratings, stability on AEW Collision where people thought the show was easier to digest than AEW Dynamite, because he was a big part of it, and now he’s apparently to blame for situations instigated by others.

Okay, I have harped on about his AEW exit for far too long. It’s in the past now. I just think in this case, CM Punk was totally Snitsky. 

Should CM Punk return to WWE?

The basic answer is Yes. Things ended so badly between he and WWE all those years ago. You have to remember, when CM Punk quit WWE – he was pretty beloved by a lot of fans. When he left, fans really took it seriously and you know how weird wrestling fans can be. They take that shit to heart, and a lot of fans were mad at him for leaving. Whatever the case was before, CM Punk needs to end this story on the right note with what time he has left to be able to make an impact whilst his body can still hold up and work a WWE schedule.

Perhaps not a fulltime schedule, but now is a better time than any to go back there, make amends with everybody, and maybe that elusive WrestleMania Main Event Dream is still possible. It would take a lot of work between he and Triple H to get themselves back on the same page. He has no track record with Nick Khan. This could be a fresh start for CM Punk, a fresh start that can give the ending to his story, a happy one. The WWE structure that is in place would never allow for such petty backstage bullshit that led to the antagonization of CM Punk, which lead to his constant retaliation, backstage fights, which lead to his dismissal. Perhaps now Punk may be realizing that the grass wasn’t greener! 

In conclusion, I just want the guy to be happy and able to do what he used to do best, and that’s create memories and moments for fans to remember. To elevate other talent and try to steal the show. To not have to worry about a bunch of paranoid dickheads trying to make him look bad. I believe he can do it, and I think he should. Finish the story Punk!

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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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