01/03/2024

CM Punk made his return to Monday Night Raw for the first time in nearly a decade after he came back to WWE at Survivor Series: WarGames. Photo Credit: WWE

When CM Punk left WWE in 2014 and retired from wrestling, it felt like the end of an era.

So many fans just wanted one more run in the ring from the “Best in the World”, and those dreams came true.

Punk signed with All Elite Wrestling (AEW) in 2021, and made his return to the ring facing Darby Allin.

He would go on to win the AEW World Championship in 2022, take time away from the company due to an injury and a backstage incident with Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks, before returning in 2023 on June 17.

Two months after returning, Punk was reportedly involved in another backstage incident, this time involving Jack Perry and AEW owner Tony Khan, and Punk’s contract was terminated with AEW.

This spearheaded rumours that Punk would return to WWE, which did occur at Survivor Series: WarGames, sending the wrestling world into shock and happiness.

After almost a decade away, CM Punk would return “home.”

“I’ve come to two words and I’m afraid to say them honestly,” Punk said in a promo on Monday Night Raw.

“It’s not because they’re not true. It’s because I’m a little bit scared of how true they actually are.

“And it’s a little bit corny and it’s a little bit cheesy and it’s not going to sound like CM Punk, but I’ve changed.

“And once upon a time, an American Dream taught me that as long as you speak from the heart, you cannot go wrong because it is the truth. And this is the truth.

“I’m home.”

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Punk would show some remnants of his old self from during his heyday in the early 2010’s, but for the most part the promo felt like a very watered down version of Punk.

It felt like a version of Punk that the CM Punk from that run of the early 2010’s would have decried and criticised for his promo work.

It felt inauthentic.

To quote Maxwell Jacob Friedman from their 2021 feud, it felt like on Raw that we got “PG Punk.” 

Part of that could be down to the fact we have seen this already.

We waited seven years between his WWE departure and his AEW debut.

We went through the highs, the lows, the excitement, the drama, the promos, and the top class matches.

We already got the complete CM Punk experience, and it was ruined and tainted by backstage incidents.

It could have been because it was a six minute promo at the end of the show, with Punk not able to say anything surrounding his departure from AEW, or hyping up a return feud which does not exist yet which is where he does his best work.

It could have also been because when Punk left WWE in 2014, he trashed the company at every single opportunity, including the medical staff.

He stated he would never return, and it feels like in doing so, he has sold out on his promises and his word.

Maybe CM Punk’s return will be full of the highs, the drama, the world-class promos, and top class matches to go along with it.

But Punk also said something else as Raw was going off the air.

With the microphone out of his hands, he stared down the barrel of the camera as his music began to play.

“I’m back. I’m not here to make friends. I’m here to make money,” Punk said.

If we are to take him at face value, and that he’s telling the truth, this is where it will lead to disappointment.

Punk does not need to be at his absolute best in order to make money in WWE.

To once again quote MJF from their feud in 2021, “What happened to the guy I grew up on, man?”

“What happened to the renegade, the ass-kicker, the outsider?

“Cause you might as well be out here preaching hustle, loyalty, and Respect.”

He can do a Roman Reigns type schedule, cut a few B-grade promos, have some above average matches, and he’ll print money for both himself and the WWE through merchandise and ticket sales.

It will not be pretty, but it will be Punk back in the WWE and that is kind of all we ever wanted, right?

It does not mean we will like it.

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