The pair very rarely shared the same promotion, with Sting in TNA during Punk’s entire run in the WWE.
Then, by the time Sting finally made the jump to Vince McMahon‘s promotion, Punk had walked out on the business, and was in the first year of his seven-year hiatus from wrestling.
However, the pair had a two-year spell in AEW together that could have been the chance to finally get the dream match that fans had been begging to see for years.
There was also a very, very brief crossover in TNA around 2003, although Punk was not at the level to challenge the Icon at that time, and the match went unbooked.
That is not to say the pair never shared the ring in the past, with two matches in AEW seeing them on the same team in tag team bouts.
Sting and CM Punk shared the ring on two occasions
On two occasions, Punk and Sting competed in a wrestling match together. However, both times saw them on the same team, battling a common enemy in tag team bouts.
In the first instance, Punk teamed with Sting and Darby Allin in an all-time classic AEW match.
With Punk and Sting wearing face paint inspired by the other, they had a fun, story-driven match against the trio of MJF and FTR, which ended in victory for the two legends and their young partner.
The second is an oft-forgotten match, but one that is a key part of AEW history. It took place in the main event of the 26th August 2023 episode of AEW Collision, and was an eight-man tag team bout.
It saw Punk team with Allin, Sting and Hook, to take on the four-man team of Jay White, Luchasaurus, Brian Cage and Swerve Strickland.
It was a star-studded match that once again Punk & Sting’s team pick up the win, in what turned out to be one of the straight-edge saviour’s final matches in the company.
Despite these two matches, CM Punk never wrestled against Sting in any company. However, he had some wonderful things to say about the Icon during his time alongside him in AEW.
CM Punk said Sting has been amazing for decades in wrestling
Following Sting and Darby Allin’s victory over The Acclaimed on the January 19th, 2022 episode of AEW Dynamite, Punk took to social media to sing the praises of the former WCW World Heavyweight Champion.
With Sting impressing while in his 60s, Punk called Sting “amazing in multiple decades”, before noting that the legend made his ring work look effortless in his execution in the ring.
“Sting is amazing. Amazing in multiple decades. Not easy to do, but you couldn’t tell by watching him. Makes it look effortless. Sting is AMAZING.”
Why AEW never booked CM Punk vs Sting
Despite the pair’s status as the biggest stars in AEW, a singles match was simply never on the cards for Sting and Punk.
When the Chicago superstar entered the company, Sting was already 61-years-old, and well past his prime. He even retired in 2015 following an injury caused by Seth Rollins, so the expectations of him wrestling in a singles match were almost non-existent.
Punk was no spring chicken himself. Already 42-years-old and coming off seven years out of the ring, he needed a number of tune up matches before he was putting on bouts up to his high standard.
Punk spoke about this fact during one of AEW’s media scrums in 2021, claiming that the pair were simply never in the right place for the bout, although he did think about doing the match during his run in the company.
‘We were never in the same company at the same time” CM Punk began. “We’re two different generation wrestlers, and you just never thought it was possible, and now, it is. And that’s kind of how I feel about the entire groundswell of AEW as a whole.
“You got me, and Darby, and Sting in a ring, and it’s legitimately three different generations and the knowledge of wealth he brings. It’s a bucket list item now. I think, for sure, down the line, we’re probably going to tag. That feels like there’s something there” CM Punk continued.
‘There’s real, organic moments here. Him coming out and shaking my hand, we didn’t talk about that. That wasn’t a planned thing. He came out, and he did it, and before I shook his hand, I looked and was kind of like, this means something to a kid like me.
‘And he said, “It means something to me too,’ and that’s wild to me. That’s the playground we have here where we could do all this stuff that you didn’t think was ever possible’
Even if Sting was able to have a singles match (he wasn’t), Punk was not the man to do it with. An injury-prone straight-edge superstar with ring rust was in no position to carry Sting to a passable bout at his age.
Instead of Punk, a younger star would have been preferable for the bout. Someone like Darby Allin, who could bump around the ring and do all the heavy lifting for Sting, would have been the smart choice for Sting’s last singles match.
Other options include MJF, Sammy Guevara or “Hangman” Adam Page, who are all fantastic wrestlers in their own right. However, they aren’t quite Punk.
Now Punk has gone back to WWE following the controversial end to his AEW run and Sting is ending his career at AEW Revolution 2024, the chance for Sting vs CM Punk is completely gone.
Maybe the match will go down as one of the biggest “what if?” bouts that never happened, like Sting vs The Undertaker.
However, we saw dream matches like Undertaker vs Goldberg go horribly wrong (not really, that match was actually amazing), so maybe it was best that we leave that bout to the WWE video games instead.