WWE is unlikely to bring back one of the most controversial stars in company history, despite his … [+]
WWE hasn’t been actively pursuing an in-ring return for CM Punk, but Punk himself is trying to keep that door open.
During an appearance on the Swings & Mrs. podcast (h/t WrestlingNews.co) earlier this week, the former WWE Champion and UFC star was asked about returning to the ring and expressed interest in doing so but noted that “nobody has dangled the correct carrot” in regards to an actual match:
“I get that question a lot. The answer changes. It’s a very fluid answer. Currently, if the business was right and I had somebody that motivated me across the ring from me, I think, might be able to get it done. Nobody has dangled the correct carrot…There’s a lot of moving parts. I’m busy doing other stuff and nobody has found the right combination of ways to approach me. It’s not all up to me, ladies and gentlemen. It’s up to the people who actually run the company.”
Although names like Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt have tried to lure Punk into the squared circle for the first time since 2014, Paul Davis of WrestlingNews.co reported late last year that fans might want to pump the brakes on chatter of an in-ring return for one of the most polarizing figures in company history:
“For what it’s worth, as of now, there is no deal between Punk and WWE. People close to Punk insist that there is no match booked or planned for WrestleMania and he has no plans to step in the ring in the immediate future. As Punk said on WWE Backstage and during recent interviews, he is open to wrestling again but WWE management will have to reach out to him if the match is going to happen.”
While Rollins has previously called out Punk for a match at WrestleMania 36 and Punk implied just this week that an unnamed WWE star has texted him asking for a WrestleMania match, Punk has previously let it be known that more work needs to be done if he’s going to step back into a WWE ring. During his first full show as an analyst on WWE Backstage last year, Punk said that “a bridge has to be built” to reconnect him with WWE but noted that he wasn’t “actively pursuing” it. That hasn’t stopped many fans and industry insiders alike from firmly believing that Punk will wrestle again at some point in the future.
Punk himself has said that he’s “open” to a pro wrestling return, and though he is under contract with FOX rather than WWE, he has said that he “wouldn’t not have a conversation” with WWE about potentially working for the company again in some capacity. During that appearance on Swings & Mrs., Punk even name-dropped Daniel Bryan, John Cena and Rey Mysterio as stars he’d like to work with again if there was a “clean slate.”
Of course, WWE–due to its lucrative TV deals and profitable overseas shows–has the financial ability to lure Punk back into the ring, and at a time when WWE really doesn’t have all that many part-time attractions it can consistently rely upon anymore, Punk finds himself in a great position as perhaps the most highly coveted free agent in all of pro wrestling at the moment. But WWE doesn’t seem to be a realistic option right now. While Punk has said he wants to get past the drama he’s had with WWE over the years–and there is plenty of that–it’s also worth considering that WWE, in Punk’s own words, “hasn’t dangled the correct carrot,” which suggests he hasn’t been contacted at all about wrestling for WWE.
There may be even more hurdles in the way of a Punk return, too. Triple H said during the post-NXT TakeOver: WarGames press conference (h/t Fightful) last November that he hasn’t spoken to Punk about wrestling for WWE again and that doing so could be a “long” way away:
“He’s working for Fox. It’s a bit of arms-length for us. It’s one of those things where, when people want something so bad it’s like, ‘So you’re saying there’s a chance.’ I understand it and I get it, but it is what it is at this point. Be happy. He’s on Backstage and doing something in the business again. The rest of it, I’ve said it a million times, ‘never say never,’ but that’s a long, long way.”
Triple H is the ideal person to bridge the gap between former disgruntled WWE stars and the company itself, especially after he previously served as a liaison to help ensure that WWE mended fences with stars like Batista to bring them back to WWE one last time. Given that Punk himself has said that he’s had a notoriously rocky relationship with Triple H, however, Punk—while he’s one of the last remaining major names who hasn’t wrestled for WWE in recent years—seems to have a lot of hoops that he has to jump through before mending fences with a company he has a shaky history with.
Although WWE fans are expecting just that to happen, many signs point toward that not being the case. Following Punk’s critical (and NSFW) tweet regarding WWE’s controversial relationship with Saudi Arabia earlier this year, WWE made the decision to no longer mention Punk on its programming or promote his WWE Backstage appearances. With Punk also recently expressing his belief that WWE promotes a “bully culture,” it’s clear that Punk still has some resentment toward WWE and that more work needs to be done to rebuild that relationship, which has been a rocky one for well over half a decade.
For now, Punk remains associated with WWE through WWE Backstage only, and though nothing is impossible, it seems that for Punk to return to WWE as an actual in-ring performer there would have to be a minor miracle and certainly more than just that “big bag” he says it would take to get him to return. PWInsider’s Mike Johnson recently reported that he hasn’t “heard anything” about a potential return for the former WWE Champion, which is yet another sign that the Punk-to-WWE chatter is just talk even if Punk seems more open to the idea.