Will CM Punk return on next week's Monday Night Raw in Chicago?

Will CM Punk be in hiding on Monday night? - Photo by Steve Wright Jr. of Flickr via Wikimedia Commons.

Will CM Punk return in just four days time to WWE action? Won't he? The pendulum swings back and forth. We give the latest evidence both for and against and let you be the judge, Cagesiders.

Warning Cagesiders this post contains Smackdown spoilers.

CM Punk's WWE status continues to be up in the air despite it being thirty days ago since he shocked the wrestling world by walking out on the company.

What we do know is that Vince McMahon has been keen to sweet talk him into appearing at WrestleMania 30 as originally planned, but so far there's been no concrete evidence that he was successful in that ploy.

However, sneaky suspicions were raised after Punk's appearance at UFC 170 that something funny was going on, as WWE hasn't suspended him yet and also haven't taken down off YouTube the strangely leaked satellite feed of Michael Cole, Jerry "The King" Lawler and JBL mocking CM Punk fan chants before Raw hit the air two weeks ago.

Since then though, the pendulum has swung back in favour of Punk's WWE sabbatical lasting many more months, if not years, and that he really is done with wrestling, like he's been telling all his friends of late.

As Dave Meltzer points out in this week's subscriber only Wrestling Observer Newsletter, most (but not all) of the latest onscreen and offscreen moves would be very strange if WWE were indeed planning to unveil Punk as a big surprise to his hometown fans and shoot a major WrestleMania 30 angle with him:

"The fact they were pushing a Daniel Bryan vs. HHH match so hard on Raw (that was Punk’s scheduled WrestleMania match) would seem to indicate they’ve taken Punk out of WrestleMania plans. The only possibility would be to add him to the title match, which at this point seems almost hard to believe they’d go with what they are indicating, given the Batista turn and the crowd reaction to that match. However, just a few days ago, WWE contacted Wizard World about a convention in Louisville from 3/28 to 3/30, and canceled Punk (who got the booking through WWE) and replaced him with [Randy] Orton. Two key points to that. The first is, Punk likes doing those things, goes out of his way to interact, stays until the last minute. The other is that WWE performers have a mixed reaction as far as drawing at those things. One major talent who was formerly on the outside (he’s not anymore) was contacted about Wizard World because they felt he could draw as good as anyone in WWE right now, and it was cited that as big as John Cena was, he wasn’t a big draw to their audience. They noted that the only one who was really successful was Punk. Given that, one would think Orton would be less successful than Cena with that audience, so to make that change you would be pissing off a business client for an “angle” when if it is an “angle,” it would be getting resolved weeks before the convention. It could be going all out and paying amazing adherence to detail, but few would know that they get talent through WWE and not directly, so it’s not like it would expose an angle if Punk was still scheduled today."

However, even with the comic con cancellation, the pink elephant in the room is that WWE so suddenly decided to stop fighting the Batista backlash and encourage the fans to boo him.

One possibility is that Orton splits up with The Authority before WrestleMania and turns into a hero in the process, which might just be moving forward a month an already planned storyline, but it's unlikely that the hardcore fans in attendance at New Orleans on the big day would greet The Viper with anymore love than they would do The Animal. But if Punk is bound and determined to stay at home, then that may be the best plan B the creative team can come up with, if they aren't willing to speed up Roman Reigns's babyface turn and throw him into the WWE championship mix.

Perhaps the most plausible explanation of what is going on is that the fans crapping on Batista's parade for the second pay-per-view running at Elimination Chamber caused Vince McMahon to make one last ditch plea to Punk to return so they could turn lemons into lemonade together. Instead of facing Triple H again, which Punk was so steadfastly against, he could headline WrestleMania 30 in a Triple Threat match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship with Bootista and Randy Boreton. Thus, Punk gets to complete a dream, while McMahon ensures that one of the biggest matches of the year gets the right reaction.

Don't miss our live coverage of Monday Night Raw next week to find out if the first bar of Cult Of Personality is played on WWE television in over a month!

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