Fresh off the heels of John Cena's return to the WWE, it's being reported that another major pro wrestling star may also be staging a comeback. CM Punk's potential return to the ring is arguably more surprising, though, since the athlete's prior exit from the WWE years ago had a finality to it that implied he really wouldn't ever return in any capacity. Now, it's looking like that may not be the case after all, at least according to a rumor circulating the web.
A report from Fightful (via Wrestlinginc.com) states that CM Punk is in ongoing talks with AEW to make an in-ring return to the world of professional wrestling. According to the report, no contract has been officially signed at this time, and there are no further details regarding how or when Punk would make the potential return. It's also not even 100% set in stone that AEW is where the wrestler would end up, though that's setup as the most likely destination for him, as the rumor involves WWE execs opining that AEW is the more believable option.
While CM Punk joining AEW would be a massive event regardless of when and how it happened, it's worth considering that the organization is in the midst of preparing for yet another live show, with AEW: Rampage set to premiere Friday, August 13. I can think of few better ways to build hype for that second programming slot than by revealing that one of the WWE's biggest outcasts will finally make his long-awaited return to the ring.
Granted, CM Punk has had a working relationship with the WWE within the past couple of years outside of the ring, but wrestling fans are aware of the well-documented tension and legal battles between the two parties over the years. Punk returning to wrestle for AEW would be a middle finger of sorts to Vince McMahon & Co., especially after being welcomed back as an analyst not that long ago.
AEW has continued to amass a large selection of former WWE Superstars who were either released or have beef with the company, but even beyond the rivalry angle, CM Punk would be a great poster boy for AEW. As previously mentioned, his return is also just a big deal in general, considering the wrestler has not participated in a televised wrestling match since 2014. And while AEW resigning Jake the Snake Roberts to a contract extension isn't necessarily related, it's at least a sign that the outfit's execs are locking things down for the future.
At the time of his final match (so far), CM Punk was still regarded as one of the most technically proficient and charismatic wrestlers in the business. It would stand to reason that he's still that guy, and even if he's not quite that guy after his UFC debacle, people in 2021 are still chanting Punk's name during wrestling matches that he clearly has no involvement in. I think a signing would immediately put more eyes on AEW as an organization in a way that Hulk Hogan's defection to WCW did back in the day. Of course, we don't know anything for sure yet, so we'll just have to wait and see what happens.
As mentioned, AEW is set to launch AEW: Rampage Friday, August 13 at 10:00 p.m. ET. For more on CM Punk, read up on this hilariously bizarre story of the time he crossed paths with Robin Williams.