The news of CM Punk’s return to WWE programming shocked the pro wrestling world and remains one of the top stories in the industry. Fans all over the globe stared on disbelief as The Second City Saint walked onto the WWE Backstage set and turned that show upside down.
While Punk is back in the fold on FOX’s dime and not WWE’s, the fact is that he’s once again directly connected to Vince McMahon’s company. It’s a day that many fans believed they would never see, but now that it’s become a reality, those same fans are waiting to see Punk back in the ring again. But what if that doesn’t happen?
Punk’s critics and fans may not agree on much, but the majority of both sides are surely in one accord when it comes to his in-ring future. He’s back in the mix, so it’s only a matter of time until he’s back between the ropes. That’s the underlying notion here and it’s hard to disagree.
After all, CM Punk is a pro wrestler at heart and most pro wrestlers find it virtually impossible to get the sport out of their system. No matter how much time or distance is put between a talent and the business he leaves behind, eventually the itch returns. CM Punk’s fans feel this is what’s happened to him, which explains why he’s walking through the door of Backstage.
Watch CM Punk’s journey to WWE Backstage
So if that’s true, then Punk is biding his time until the moment he renews his career defining run in WWE. Maybe that run will include another world championship, which could come in the main event of WrestleMania 36. It’s what Punk wanted before he left WWE. What if the company is finally going to give him what he’s spent so many years of his life working toward?
But as Punk’s supporters begin to count the days until he’s back in the ring, the fact is they must be realistic. CM Punk walked away from WWE in 2014, capping off a 15 year career that saw him rise to the very top of the pro wrestling world. He defied stereotypes, he smashed the status quo and he took the WWE world by storm. Better yet, he did it on his terms while refusing to change who he was.
But Punk has been out of WWE for five years and during that time, the company has changed. Many would say it’s changed for the worst and much of that stems from the fact that WWE now offers a PG product, which bears the stigma of being a watered down version of its former self. The edginess that guys like Punk brought to the forefront was all but abandoned after he left and with very few exceptions, it’s really not returned.
Relive Punk’s debut on Backstage
Every fan knows that Punk was at his best when he was allowed to flex his creative muscles. His promos shook the very foundations of WWE, causing many to label him as the best mic worker of his generation. But considering the fact that WWE Superstars are so heavily produced at this point, would Punk actually be able to recapture the magic he once had on the stick, or would WWE attempt to reign him in as they did before?
Of course, Punk was always the exception to the rule and fans know it. WWE Creative consistently hands scripted promos to the Superstars and chances are, most of them willingly deliver those promos as rehearsed. In fact, it’s become so commonplace that WWE promos overall have lost any real impact and passion as a result.
However there’s also the fact that WWE has actually changed for the better in terms of talent. NXT has ushered in a new era for the company, as some of independent pro wrestling’s biggest names now call WWE home. It could even be said that none of that would be possible without Punk’s run, which saw him completely change the perception that the audience had of what a star should look like and how he could be received.
So if CM Punk is the father of today’s WWE talent roster, then chances are that some of those talents would likely love nothing more than to work with him in the ring. Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt and others have already used social media to tease the idea of wrestling Punk. Many others are sure to follow and it may only be a matter of time until The Voice of the Voiceless retakes that mantle as an active WWE Superstar.
Will fans see this again on Monday Night Raw?
But for every fan that believes Punk will once again lace up the boots, there may be just as many who disagree. The most important question regarding a CM Punk return in 2019 is the most obvious one. What more does he have to do in the ring? What’s left for Punk that he hasn’t already accomplished? He’s been a record-breaking WWE champion. He’s worked match of the year candidates and stood toe-to-toe with Hall of Fame legends. He’s been on top of the card and he moved more merchandise than John Cena in his prime. What’s left?
The most important answer is the most obvious one as well. CM Punk has never worked the main event of WrestleMania and he’s not yet in the Hall of Fame. If Punk feels that he has unfinished business in both regards, then maybe his wrestling story is not over yet. But of course, that’s assuming he wold want to do business with WWE again to that degree.
While the company would surely love to put Punk back in that main event spot, if for no other reason than ratings, the truth is that he may not feel the same way. WWE is the same company that fired CM Punk via FedEx on his wedding day. Despite any mistakes Punk made during that time of his life, WWE had no qualms about taking calculated steps to hurt the man they once featured on top.
In the end, the most important thing for fans is that CM Punk is back. They’ve been waiting to see him on WWE TV for years and now they have their wish. It may not be in the ring and it may not be as a main event champion. But for his supporters, having CM Punk in some form is perhaps better than not having him at all. They’re happy just to see him connected to pro wrestling again. Whether or not that’s enough for CM Punk remains to be seen.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Wrestling Rumors. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on iTunes,YouTube, iHeart Radio, boinkstudios.com and live every Friday at 12pm EST on Wrestling Rumors Facebook Live