CM Punk’s last two stints in national professional wrestling companies were remarkable and ultimately disastrous. Punk is currently in the midst of a dramatic departure from AEW, contract buyout and all. But as the dust settles, WWE has become an unlikely suitor.
Even more unlikely, the interest is reportedly coming from WWE’s new Chief Creative Officer, and CM Punk’s former foe, Triple H.
Both WWE and AEW experienced the full complement of the CM Punk experience. The embattled former AEW World Champion helped foster memorable moments for all the right and wrong reasons. But at 43 years old, with multiple serious injuries in recent months, CM Punk’s unquestioned star power is no longer worth the physical, mental or emotional risk attached to it. Calling them risks might even be naive because biblical outbursts have proven to be inevitable with CM Punk.
WWE is enjoying a resurgence under Triple H during a honeymoon period in the midst of Vince McMahon’s retirement/resignation. Ratings, ticket sales, and many other key performance indicators all increased significantly. The last thing WWE needs is their current lightning in a bottle to escape. As Punk showed with AEW during his own honeymoon period, a locker room implosion is a strong possibility as long as the bellicose top star is under contract.
Despite his undeniable talents, and perhaps even because of them, CM Punk has become the Terrell Owens of professional wrestling. His Hall of Fame credentials will always be compromised by backstage drama and problems outside the ring. The dark cloud that followed CM Punk out of AEW continues to weigh on the company, which is still picking up the pieces of a fractured locker room that was damaged, in part, by Phil Brooks.
Punk’s latest implosion came in early September after what was supposed to be his prime. Shortly after defeating Jon Moxley for the AEW World Championship at AEW All Out, Punk unleashed a scathing promo targeting several of AEW’s top stars.
The scorched-earth tirade served to expose both Tony Khan’s leadership, or lack thereof, as well as AEW’s spineless media scrums. Khan’s dog-and-pony press conferences are papered over with mostly AEW-friendly reporters who refused to ask legitimate follow-up questions about Punk’s messy monologue. Punk, who was injured during the main event world title match in Chicago, hasn’t been around AEW’s programming since.
With CM Punk exiting AEW in disastrous fashion, the promotion is reportedly buying his contract. Punk was believed to be earning around $3 million per year on a three-year contract. Punk’s off-color incendiary comments about Hangman Adam Page, The Young Bucks, and Colt Cabana, among others, led to an inevitable feud between Punk, Kenny Omega, and the Young Bucks. Since then, all matches have been suspended and stripped of their championships. CM Punk is no longer the AEW World Champion, while Omega and the Young Bucks lost the AEW World Trios Championship. With AEW seemingly introducing a new championship every month, CM Punk and The Elite might be the only AEW stars without one. After weeks of silence on the matter, AEW finally referenced the vacant titles last Tuesday on AEW Dynamite.
Punk’s best friend (for now) and former AEW backstage producer Ace Steel was relieved of his duties for his role in the melee.
CM Punk cemented his legacy while in WWE with the famous Pipe bomb promotion in 2011. The worked-up shootout will go down as one of the greatest promotions in pro wrestling history. Punk’s memorable story of mimicking art and life ultimately led to him winning his first WWE Championship after threatening to leave WWE both in and out of history. Similar to his departure from AEW, CM Punk’s departure from WWE was followed by a lengthy tirade (this time on a podcast alongside former best friend Colt Cabana) and an even longer legal process in which Punk ultimately prevailed.
CM Punk would cause quite a stir in WWE, but then there would be a countdown to when those waters turn into waves. With the Triple H Era running smoothly without CM Punk, bringing him back into the fold sounds like a toxic mix of WWE greed and spite, one that could ultimately backfire spectacularly.