With news of CM Punk’s rumoured signing with AEW gaining immense traction, it evokes memories of a different time in wrestling. In the 1990s, Hulk Hogan made the move from WWF to WCW. After years of bland Hulkamania past its sell-by-date, Bash at the Beach 1996 became the catalyst that put WCW on the world map. CM Punk to AEW could evoke the biggest reaction since the formation of the NWO, and could turn the tide in the war between AEW and WWE.
Will CM Punk go to AEW or WWE
CM Punk has been rumoured to be moving to AEW for some time, with reports today suggestion he has been in contact with Tony Khan since May.
The Chicago native hasn’t been a part of the wrestling industry since his infamous walkout after the 2014 Royal Rumble. Punk walked out after being eliminated by Kane, but not before a heated discussion with Vince McMahon and Triple H.
Punk was angry at being made to work through injury, and the booking decisions that had denied him the coveted Wrestlemania man event. At 27, the Miz was chosen above him. At 28 and 29 he was passed over for the two Rock vs Cena bouts. In 30, he was due to face Triple H in an undercard match, with Batista and Orton headlining.
Being one of the most popular on the roster, Punk was beside himself. He had been used in marquee match ups, losing to part timers to build up their credibility. Punk made this one of his main issues. He had lost to The Rock, Brock Lesnar and the Undertaker in the space of a year. This is fine in a vacuum. However, as he put it “Who will be on Raw on Monday?”. He was sick of losing then going out on Raw, his momentum gone, as the part timers languished at home.
The straight edge superstar was also made to work through injuries. As the most popular on the roster, even outselling John Cena on merchandise, he was relied upon constantly. This meant coming back from injury earlier than he should, and working through injuries until breaking point. This culminated in a lawsuit, where he claimed he nearly died of an undiagnosed staph infection.
Punk has been out of action for 7 years since the 2014 Royal Rumble. Apart from the occasional masked appearance, he has not been seen inside a wrestling ring since.
The EVP’s of AEW, including Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks, have talked at length about attempted to sign CM Punk. In their book “Killing the Business”, the Bucks talk at length about Tony Khan offering Punk a return at the dawn of the company. That offer was not taken, but Punk has spoken before about how he would consider a return to the ring, for the right story and price.
CM Punk was also talking to Ring of Honour as early as January 2021, with him seemingly interested in a return. Reports concluded that he was more interested in telling a story rather than the money involved.
CM Punk would not be the first veteran returning to AEW. Christian Cage returned from a 7 year absence to join back full time in AEW. Like Punk, he was away from the ring, and returned to a heroes welcome.
CM Punk could be the difference that makes AEW challenge Monday Night Raw in viewership. AEW Dynamite managed to draw 1.15 million views this past week, a mere 550k less than the WWE’s flagship show. While it would be a struggle to earn those extra viewers, Punk could be the answer.
When Hulk Hogan turned the wrestling world on it’s head in 1996, ratings soon followed suit. WCW beat WWE for 83 weeks straight in the ratings. It knocked WWE down to second place for the first time in nearly thirty years.
Could CM Punk be the answer to WWE? Its unknown if he could, but if anyone could, he is the man. Anticipation for his return has only grown as the years go on. At the age of 42, time is coming up for Punk to either return or hang up his boots for good. With AEW’s hardcore fanbase rabid for his return, the casual fan could be persuaded to watch AEW should the Chicago born star make his debut.