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Opinion

CM Punk in the Ring Ahead of Starrcast III: Teasing a Comeback, or Just Having Fun?

Is Punk working everyone like Jericho?

From the moment he left WWE in 2014, fans have been wondering when CM Punk is coming back to pro wrestling. He’s been asked thousands of times over the years and his answer has been the same every time. Basically, he’s not interested. 

The Second City Saint walked away from the world’s largest promotion and in doing so, he left behind the business that he once loved. But that business often didn’t love him back and everyone knew it. He worked hard and he gave it his all. However at the end of the day, it wasn’t enough anymore. Punk closed the door on pro wrestling and he hasn’t been back since then.

But that has not stopped the endless questions that just keep on coming. Would he return for one more match? Does he even care about it anymore? Why won’t he give his fans what they want? The funny thing is, he’s answered all of these questions and he will probably answer them again at Starrcast III during the weekend of August 29.

Punk is just one of many guest stars booked for the event. But this particular event is taking place in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois. The fact that Punk agreed to show up was extremely surprising to many fans, who were convinced it would never happen. CM Punk has moved on and left that world behind. Why encourage more questions? More importantly, why work out in the ring on video, if there’s no intention of wrestling again?

But Punk has always been true to his fans, which he says is the reason why he chose to sign on for the event. Of course he’s getting paid as well, but the same is true of everyone else that’s scheduled to appear. The fact is that no matter what he does, Punk’s critics will find a reason to hate him for it.

This is surely no different, as many believe it’s indeed just a payday. To them, this is more about Punk riling everyone up and putting himself firmly in the spotlight. Perhaps they’re right and if so, who could blame him? No matter how much he tries to distance himself from the business, he will always be connected. Pro wrestling is how he achieved fame and there’s no denying that.

However it can also be argued that Punk has kept himself close to the industry the entire time he’s been gone. He’s not been active in the ring of course, but during the years since he left WWE, he’s not run from any questions regarding a possible return. He’s also continued to use his working name, which was obviously his before he ever arrived in Vince McMahon’s company.

Is all of that enough to directly link Punk to pro wrestling, or is it just part of his backstory? Talk of his career is always at the forefront and to ignore it would be to walk away from the mainstream media completely. Punk has never shown any real signs of doing that, so it’s safe to assume that he’s grown accustomed to dealing with his past despite how much he may be sick of talking about it.

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But how much of it is really in the past? Starrcast may not be an AEW production, but the event typically coincides with the company’s big shows. The same is true for Starrcast III, which will be held in conjunction with All Out. That fact alone is enough to spin the rumor mill to the point of breaking. It’s no surprise that’s exactly what’s happening now.

Is CM Punk going to AEW? As far as questions are concerned, it’s the biggest one of 2019. Tony Khan’s promotion is perhaps on the verge of making a sizable impact on the business with their October 2 TV debut on TNT. WWE made the decision to counter that debut by moving NXT to the USA Network on the same night as AEW. 

The Monday Night Wars are long since over, but The Wednesday Night Wars are perhaps just beginning. If that’s true, then AEW is off to a great start indeed. They’ve generated enough buzz around the product that even Vince McMahon himself is taking a preemptive strike against them. Some would call that smart business. But many more would say its proof positive that McMahon is more concerned about AEW than he would ever admit out loud.

How much more concerned would he be if AEW signed CM Punk? No matter how many times he’s denied ever wanting to return, the fact is that the situation seems to be perfect. He would certainly not sign a deal he wasn’t comfortable with, which means he would possibly not be full-time in the company. 

He would want to continue pursuing outside interests, which he would certainly be allowed to do. Punk wouldn’t have to worry about someone in Creative handing him lines to memorize for his promos. He’s CM Punk and he never needed that in WWE. He would surely never get it from AEW. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ms0DFxpptk&t=13s

But would Punk be the main focus of the company? Chris Jericho, Kenny Omega, Cody Rhodes and Jon Moxley are AEW’s heavy hitters. Each one is a main event star and each one brings his own unique flavor to the table. Punk would definitely do that as well, but whether or not he would be the top guy is up for discussion. Would AEW look past its rising stars like Hangman Page, to feature a veteran like CM Punk?

Or is all of this purely innocent on Punk’s part? Maybe he’s indeed only doing Starrcast for the fans and has no other agenda. He does enjoy being the center of attention and that’s surely the case right now. So perhaps this is nothing more than his way of teasing his critics while giving a wink to his fans. Maybe CM Punk is finished after all.

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The fact is that the endless amount of questions surrounding Punk will likely never go away. He will be hit with all of them again at Starrcast and he will either deliver his usual denials, or he will shock the audience and give a major announcement. Neither outcome would surprise anyone at this point. Despite what happens, Punk will perhaps always be a polarizing figure in pro wrestling, even if he doesn’t come back and that’s definitely not up for debate.

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