AEW: Could CM Punk return to WWE in 2023?

Sunday’s chaotic events from AEW’s All Out Event were unlike anything we’ve seen in a long time. When you think of All Elite Wrestling, you think of the opposite of what WWE was before Paul Levesque stepped in once Vince McMahon retired. AEW was a change for wrestling fans. It was a no-bullshit product that focused on what wrestling fans wanted the most, pro wrestling… Enter CM Punk.

Many wrestling fans also probably assumed that AEW was like a family at the end of the day and negative situations like this would never appear. Not with the likes of Kenny Omega, CM Punk, and the Young Bucks, but here we are. CM Punk said it loud and clear in his return on Aug. 20, 2021. “I’m back because there’s a hell of a lot of young talent,” referring to the AEW locker room, Punk said. Punk went on to mention that he had there were scores to settle in that locker room and ironically those scores might have yet to be settled, although he was referring to the young guys like Darby Alin.

Punk, though, was “pessimistic,” Khan said. Things between him and WWE ended badly. Punk was sick and injured in those final months, and he left in January 2014 the night after competing in his final WWE match at the Royal Rumble. He was officially fired on his wedding day that June.

In December 2020, Punk finally took himself out of the UFC’s USADA drug-testing pool, rendering him essentially retired from MMA. Meanwhile, Punk said WWE had been reaching out to him about a return as well, through intermediaries. Punk said he did listen to overtures, but they never really got off the ground. Maybe Punk was saved by his injury and time will tell in the next 8-10 months if things will heal…

Why WWE?

If there’s anything we’ve learned in the past years in WWE is that never say never. The Ultimate Warrior, Bruno Sammartino, and Bret Hart. There’s more, but those athletes come to mind. It was hard to imagine Bret Hart back in a WWE ring after his departure in the 90s, but in 2010 he was back. The Hitman was inducted into the 2006 Hall of Fame, but seeing him in the WWE ring was surreal.

Sammartino never held back when it came to criticizing the WWE and declined several invites into the Hall of Fame. It wasn’t Mcmahon who got Sammartino to agree to be inducted, the company has Levesque to thank for that.

With that, all this may be pure imagination, but Punk did say that if you were to see him in the WWE it would be for the money. Old clips of exchanges between Punk, Levesque, John Cena and even of The Rock trade words with Punk back in the mid-2010ss.

Some of those clips didn’t age so well if you’re Punk. He won his case back in (2019) against the person who misdiagnosed him, but he’s been let go since then. WWE is under new leadership now. McMahon is gone along with John Laurenitis.

Assuming Punk doesn’t return to AEW whether he’s fired or just asks for his release, is a return to WWE possible? It‘s not outside the realm of possibility. No matter what the feelings may be from the higher-ups towards Punk, Levesque would miss a layup if he doesn’t at least reach out to Punk.

There would be no need for Punk to return as a full-time performer either. He’ll fall into that Brock Lesnar treatment where fans will likely only see him during premium live events like SummerSlam and WrestleMania. I wish no injuries against anybody, but let’s face it. Punk’s older now. He said it best during his scrum.

Fewer appearances mean more time to heal up and ease his workload. You can put him up against just about anybody and it would sell. But the four opponents come to mind that would make complete sense.

Kevin Owens. That story tells itself. There’s the Young Bucks connection there to tie it up, and after that chaotic alteration following the scrum, KO tweeted out a photo of him and Steve Austin during their WrestleMania main event. Punk has said in the past that he would’ve loved to face Austin. Not only did he not get that chance, he never headlined WWE’s main show while KO has already accomplished that.

Seth Rollins. That’s an easy choice, but even when McMahon was still controlling the ship before he retired, Rollins was the perfect company guy when it came to defending the WWE as the top company to work for, even if many didn’t agree with Rollins over the product.

Cody Rhodes. Another story that tells itself. Rhodes vacated AEW a few months after Punk arrived, and two guys who knew what it was like to work there would sell out any arena/stadium where this potential match would take place at.

Here’s one more for old-time’s sake. John Cena. Cena is one of those guys that athletes just respect no matter what. It’s no different between Punk and Cena. The mutual respect is still there and the few times that these two stepped into the ring, it was pure magic. Their classic showdown on Monday Night Raw and their infamous Money in the Bank clash. Another feud that writes itself that doesn’t need both men on a full-time schedule to set up the match.

Hopefully Punk is able to make amends and Khan can cash in on a potential feud featuring Punk, FTR vs. Omega and the Young Bucks in the future. Controversy sells, but only time will tell what the future holds for CM Punk.

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