He’s back. And he’s All Elite. After much anticipation and many rumors regarding his status, CM Punk made his long-expected AEW debut tonight on Rampage. In front of 15,000 fans in the United Center in Chicago, Punk provided all of us with one of the coolest and special moments in the history of professional wrestling.
A couple of disclaimers before you continue:
If you’ve read any of my opinion pieces in the past or heard me on various podcasts, such as The Pipebomb and The Hoots Podcast, you know that I cannot stand both CM Punk or AEW. I am on record saying that I think that Phil Brooks is a sniveling, whining baby who only cares about getting himself over and getting paid, and couldn’t give a damn about the people who made him a star.
Also, I think that as a wrestling company, AEW is a complete joke and has done nothing but create a parody of professional wrestling. The Elite has managed to convince a wrestling mark billionaire that their stupid ideas are genius and is basically paying a lot of money to the talent that WWE doesn’t want anymore, to pat themselves on the back and say “look what we did”.
All that being said, I can’t deny what I saw tonight.
The reaction of the crowd when CM Punk came out was something that I will never forget. And I mean that in the best way possible and I say that with all sincerity. Nights like this are why we watch professional wrestling. They are the reason that we sit through the garbage that we don’t like, from WWE, AEW, or anyone else, to get to those special moments that we will talk about forever.
And I must admit that I believe that the emotion on his face when he came out and made his way to the ring was beyond real. He was back, doing the thing that he loved, in front of his home crowd and they were behind him 100%.
CM Punk has this unbelievable, cult-like following that follows him everywhere that he goes. And tonight they were packed in the United Center. I wish I could have been in the building. So freaking cool.
Now, let’s get to the promo. Punk did change one thing for me about how I feel about him. And I am enough a person to admit when I may have been wrong, and I was wrong about this. During the promo, he acknowledged that he was not able to get mentally, physically, or spiritually healthy by staying in the place that he was. We can only assume that he meant WWE and that’s why he decided to leave so suddenly in 2014.
If that’s truly how he felt, then I can’t blame him for leaving. Mental health has become a much more prevalent topic over the past few years and if staying in WWE was causing his mental health to decline, then he needed to walk away. I’ve even come to the conclusion that perhaps Punk and WWE were just not a good fit for one another. They tried to fit a square peg into a round hole and it just didn’t work.
And that’s OK.
However, it didn’t take long for the harsh reality to set in and for the reason that I can’t stand Punk or AEW to be brought to light.
In the promo, Punk said that when he left Ring of Honor in 2005, he left the world of “professional wrestling”. To me, that is one of the most hypocritical statements that he could have possibly made.
AEW claims that they are a professional wrestling company, but they are sports entertainment, just like WWE is. Look at all of the ridiculous characters, horrible wrestling and terrible storylines that they put out every single week. They claim to be different than WWE and a “sports-based” wrestling promotion, but they model themselves after the “enemy” at every turn.
Furthermore, let’s be completely honest. If it wasn’t for WWE, nobody would give a damn what CM Punk thinks or says. That company made him an iconic superstar and they even allowed Punk to influence the direction that he thought WWE should go. But that was never good enough for him. To not acknowledge that is something that I will never get over and will always cause me to have nothing but disdain for Punk.
However, this next statement is the one that really put me over the top and caused me to roll my eyes. He said that he came to AEW to work with their young talent.
I don’t know if you’ve been watching any of AEW over the last 2 years, but they don’t give a damn about their own young talent. The only people that they are willing to push are ex-WWE stars or Internet darlings such as Kenny Omega or The Young Bucks.
AEW has absolutely no interest in taking someone from scratch and trying to build a company around them. Their only objective is to create moments by having debuts of ex-WWE wrestlers so that they can get clickbait from certain websites, then they pay these people a lot of money to go through meaningless storylines and only be featured on television once every three weeks or so.
To say that Punk came back to work with young talent is a joke and I’m not buying it for one second. Sure, he’s facing Darby Allin at All Out, but then he’ll want to challenge Kenny Omega for the AEW World Title. And then that theory will go out the window and I’ll be proven right.
I cannot deny that CM Punk’s debut in AEW was one of the most historic and important moments in the history of professional wrestling. And it was a great moment that I will replay over and over again, because the energy in the building was something that happens once every several years or so.
However, once the new car smell wears off, AEW will go back to how they’ve always been and will simply be waiting to pay the next superstar for a big moment, casting Punk aside and wasting him in the meantime. And that’s a shame for all of the legions of Phil Brooks fans that have waited 7 long years for his return.
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