Hot Take: WWE Should Embrace the Never-Ending CM Punk Rumors | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors
The CM Punk drama for WWE isn’t going to fade magically.
It seems all too obvious that Punk will wind up back in WWE after his messy AEW departure, making it a matter of when, not if.
And Punk himself is to blame.
Some will call it trolling, but it’s more like genius marketing on behalf of Punk, whose almost Cena-like Instagram stories and comments in public keep his name in the headlines and speculation running rampant.
Case in point, Punk going to his Instagram Stories (h/t H Jenkins of Ringside News) to post a workout video with Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” as the background music—the theme song for the Survivor Series PLE on November 25 in Chicago.
Or other posts that feature him as a devilish figure, which keeps his name in circulation over in AEW, too, because a mystery person in a devil mask keeps attacking people in that promotion.
But this is mostly about WWE and Punk because the bigger promotion on the block simply isn’t going to be able to avoid this.
It doesn’t matter what WWE attempts to preemptively leak to adjust fan expectations, warning them that Punk isn’t coming. There have been Punk chants from live crowds all over, be it on NXT or even at Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia.
That’s only going to get worse at Survivor Series for obvious reasons given the host city. And if he doesn’t come back there, the fan fervor will just transfer over to the Royal Rumble for equally obvious reasons. Any surprise entrant who isn’t Punk might suffer the consequences.
And after that, WrestleMania. And after that…it just keeps going.
The problem for WWE is that this isn’t like last time. When Punk originally left the company all those years ago, it could endure the chants and even play into them with the likes of Stephanie McMahon. Eventually, they faded.
But this time? Punk went to a direct competitor and, drama aside, looked like his usual self in massive programs and put up huge numbers. There’s at least a segment of the pro wrestling fanbase that feels it was Punk who was wronged on his way out the door over there and that his return to WWE would feature some fantastic anti-AEW content.
And WWE has made its bed with this type of thing, too. It was more than happy to scoop up Cody Rhodes and put him in the historic title reign and storyline of Roman Reigns. Fans aren’t naive—it’s all too obvious that AEW is suffering without Punk and that signing him and putting him in a prominent spot would be a big blow to the competition.
Also on the fans aren’t naive slant? It’s clear WWE has very much changed for the better over the years and especially so in areas that frustrated Punk before he left. His departure might’ve even spurred some of those changes. Him returning to a much better environment would only make sense for both parties, at least to outside observers.
Go ahead and tack on one more thing here in the form of WWE’s part-timers. First of all, they’re running out. Brock Lesnar doesn’t appear that often, Goldberg, Undertaker and others are gone. Adding Punk to that “part-timers” list who shows up for massive matches in big spots feels like a no-brainer.
Perhaps a part-timer status and specific infrastructure to prevent any potential backstage drama would be the nice balance required to make it work. But it’s pretty hard to imagine that the new folks overseeing things after the merger with UFC would say no thanks to a draw like Punk who has that massive crossover appeal.
None of this is to say WWE should let itself be held hostage by Punk. But it’s hard to tell fans who have seen the company make amends with other Superstars as far back as the 70s that they shouldn’t expect it here—especially when it would make so much sense on the business side.
This also isn’t meant to suggest it will be easy. Punk has become something of a wild card over the last decade and contract talks require both sides to agree on money, actual usage and more.
But given the current landscape of pro wrestling, the fact it feels like such a no-brainer involving one of the most beloved figures in the sport of the modern era means WWE won’t be able to shake free of the idea anytime soon.
Funnily enough for WWE, the Punk “problem” right now is one of those great problems to have with an obvious solution pretty much everyone can see—embrace it, ride the lightning and eventually bring him back.