CM Punk is back and the pro wrestling world is buzzing with the news. The former WWE champion is now an analyst on FOX’s WWE Backstage program that airs on FS1 and there may be no better authority to fill the role than him. But with his return, comes the inevitable question of whether or not he will wrestle again.
Though he’s repeated many times over the past several years that he has no desire to, fans are asking all the same. It’s only logical that the question comes back with a vengeance and there will likely be no peace until it’s definitively answered. But maybe the better question is, why would he want to?
It’s well known in pro wrestling circles that CM Punk initially left WWE over several different factors. He was tired, he was frustrated and he was restless, all of this is true. But he was also hurt and the fallout from his exit and subsequent appearance on Colt Cabana’s podcst, only worsened the situation for him.
Not only was Punk confronted with the knowledge that WWE didn’t care about his physical well being, he also had to deal with the lawsuit from the company. Combine both of those events with the fact that he was fired via FedEx on his wedding day and it definitely seems as though WWE was perhaps not the most ideal place for Punk to work.
All of that is in the past of course and fans don’t really know what’s been said between the two sides behind closed doors. Perhaps there has been a meeting in which Punk and Vince McMahon had the chance to clear the air. Maybe the two men ended that meeting with a handshake and now all is well. But did that meeting also include a conversation about Punk getting back in the ring again?
Assuming that’s the case, is it also safe to assume that Punk has truly forgiven WWE for everything that’s happened? Punk is not perfect and he has made his fair share of mistakes, that much is clear. But when a billion dollar company goes after a single individual and spends the next few years mocking that individual in front of a worldwide audience, what are fans supposed to think?
Are they to believe that was nothing more than old school pro wrestling tactics played out for everyone to see? The business can be described as a lot of things, but a sacred collection of saints and humble personalities is not one of them. Obviously, WWE is a publicly traded company with an image to uphold. But that doesn’t mean the old pro wrestling mentality has been totally erased from within.
Of course this is not the Territory Era of the 1980’s. Shareholders and sponsors hold WWE to a much higher standard than what fans saw during Hulk Hogan’s day. The fans also believe the company should be held to a different standard as well, even though they know the ugly truth that lies beneath.
So with all of that information and all of those memories in Punk’s mind, what would make him think that WWE would handle him any differently now? Would he actually believe that the company would now choose to do right by him and treat him fairly, while they continue to drop the ball with other well deserving talents around him? If so, is that okay? Or would Punk immediately identify the problem as he did before and then become the outspoken advocate for change once again?
Or maybe a return to the ring would be nothing more than a one-off situation for Punk. The idea of Punk teaming with his wife, former Divas champion AJ Lee, against Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch at WrestleMania, has ben teased online by more than one fan who would love to see the match happen. Would Punk be satisfied with such a match, especially if it were the main event of the show? Would WWE even consider booking that match to go on last at the biggest event of the year? If Punk still wants the main event bad enough and if WWE agrees, then maybe it will happen.
But how much of that is just a cash grab for Punk, rather than an opportunity to finally close the book on his WWE career? While the payoff would certainly be in the realm of what he believes he deserves, Punk has made it clear that he’s never done any of this purely for the sake of making money. Punk wants respect and he wants what he’s earned. Or at least, he did.
What would make him really believe that the company would finally give him anything at the point? This is not the WWE that Punk left behind in 2014. WWE has received harsh criticism over the past few years for its nonsensical booking and convoluted storylines, both of which continue to drag down ratings, as well as fan satisfaction with the product, even now. Would Punk’s situation be treated any differently than that of his peers, or would he fall into the same turmoil as everyone else?
The situation wasn’t perfect when Punk was in WWE the last time and it’s arguably only gotten worse now. So with that being the case, why would he ever want to step back into that drama again? The talent level has certainly increased since he left WWE, thanks to NXT. But if Punk comes back and beats anyone from that brand, or anyone that’s on the rise in the company, wouldn’t he be as guilty as the part-timers that the company used when he was WWE champion?
Maybe CM Punk will indeed return to the ring. Perhaps things have changed between him and not only Vince McMahon, but Triple H as well. Or maybe all Punk wants is to make headlines with his new role at FOX and tackle it with the same enthusiasm that he did his ring career. The fact is that CM Punk saw the handwriting on the wall five years ago and it could very well be he’s got no desire to revisit that madness once again.