CM Punk continues to be the center of fan speculation online, thanks to rumors of his possible signing with AEW. The man once known as The Voice of The Voiceless remains silent on the matter however, which is understandable. Punk likes to have fun with fans on social media and in this case, he’s definitely keeping everyone guessing.
No one outside of Punk and AEW knows for sure, of course. But AEW Rampage will be live in Punk’s hometown of Chicago on August 20. Darby has already teased it and the fact is that the vibe surrounding the situation suggests that Punk’s arrival is imminent. All signs seem to point to it, just as all signs seem to point to Darby versus Punk. So is this going to happen?
When All Elite Wrestling formed in 2019, the buzz began almost immediately that CM Punk would eventually come onboard. Maybe it was the DIY style that Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks exhibited in putting the company together. They felt they offered something better than the established promotions. They also believed that no one could do it like they could.
That notion just screams “CM Punk.” Punk’s whole career has happened on his terms, in his own way. Punk bucked the system, because he felt that no one knew his business like he did. No one could step into his world and tell him how to live in it. He made those decisions on his own. Every time Punk found himself in a bad situation, he changed it. He found a way to survive.
But when he didn’t join AEW, fans moved on. At least, most of them did. Even Punk’s most ardent supporters who always wanted to see him back in a pro wrestling ring, eventually had to let it go. When AEW went live, Punk was out of wrestling for six years. By that time, it may as well have been 50.
AEW started, began loading up on talent and rolled forward. CM Punk wasn’t involved and that was okay. In the end, the company didn’t seem to need him. Fast forward to 2021 and it could very well be said that AEW doesn’t need him now, either. The fact is that AEW, in spite of all criticisms and assorted jabs from life-long WWE fans, seems to be doing just fine.
Now it’s seven years since Punk walked away and in all that time, every possible dream match that could be imagined, has been. That’s especially true of AEW’s roster. Punk versus Kenny Omega, Jon Moxley and MJF, have all surely been discussed. But what about CM Punk versus Darby Allin?
I Know Your Dreams
Is this the one dream match that AEW fans didn’t know they wanted? It certainly seems that way. Maybe that’s due to Punk’s absence from the business, which has caused much of the fantasy booking to dissipate in recent years. The idea of Punk versus anyone from Tony Khan’s company was just wishful thinking on the part of fans and nothing more.
But the prospect of seeing CM Punk step into an AEW ring has now become so real that it feels like a near-certainty. Combine that with Darby seemingly calling Punk out on live TV and suddenly, wishful thinking has turned into something much more. Maybe this is the ideal dream match for Punk after all.
Darby Allin doesn’t look like a pro wrestler. The same was once said of CM Punk. Darby is too small and small guys don’t draw money or ratings. Again, the same was once said of Punk as well. The fact is that the two men have more in common than perhaps anyone ever realized. But what makes this matchup so intriguing isn’t their similarities, it’s their differences.
Darby has literally thrown himself into his work. Every pro wrestler is taking a chance every time he or she steps into a ring. But for Darby, it’s his level of risk that makes him who he is. He’s absolutely fearless and he’s unquestionably driven. Darby Allin is on a mission to prove he belongs and he will stop at nothing to do it. Despite how many fans cheer him on and no matter how many times he’s given his due, it will never be enough. He’s an adrenaline junkie and he has to get his fix.
What Came Before
But CM Punk walked away from the business. Injuries and exhaustion got the better of him and by the time he left WWE, he was a shell of his former self. He no longer cared about pro wrestling. It was all he wanted at one time but when the end came, he hated it. He couldn’t take it anymore, so he moved on with his life.
This could be an ideal angle for this match. Punk would see Darby as a kid who doesn’t understand that the industry is using him up, as it did to him. He would be the voice of reason for Darby, a way to bring Allin down to earth and open his eyes to the truth. But for Darby Allin? CM Punk would be exactly what many critics called him in 2014: a quitter.
Punk’s character once prided himself on his heart. But Darby could argue that Punk’s heart is long gone. Now, it’s all about getting a payday. Punk would be coming into Darby’s world, a world in which he no longer belongs. Punk would once again be the outsider trying to prove he belongs. No matter how many times he tries to prove it to Darby, it may never be enough.
The harmony that could happen in this storyline begs the question as to which man would be the heel. Would such a matter even make a difference? Longtime CM Punk fans who have missed him since he retired, likely wouldn’t care about it. But longtime Darby Allin fans who perhaps don’t have a high opinion of Punk, could care quite a bit. Then there’s the question of which man would ultimately be the protagonist? Will it even come to that point?
The fact is that CM Punk versus Darby Allin wasn’t even a dream match at one time. CM Punk versus anyone was never a real possibility, apparently until now. But if the rumors are true and Punk debuts in Chicago on August 20, then everything will change. Fans will indeed get Punk versus anyone. Darby Allin may be the first man to step up and then the dream will become a reality.
Tom Clark is a Senior Pro Wrestling Analyst and Featured Columnist for Wrestling Rumors. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Audible, Spotify, YouTube and live every Friday at 12pm EST on Wrestling Rumors Facebook Live