Despite fans begging for it both at the arena and on social media, and despite the best efforts of a few power players within WWE, CM Punk did not return to pro wrestling on the March 3, 2014, episode of Monday Night Raw in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois.
And that almost certainly means he's gone for good.
Oh sure, you'll get reports that this was all done as a swerve to lead to a more unexpected return next week. And because anything is possible, including miracles, desperate fans will want to buy in. They'll want to believe, despite all evidence to the contrary.
You'll also read reports that "sources close to Punk" are saying he's done for good. That's par for the course in the pro wrestling business, really. All these sources who will never go on record but are somehow so close to the situation that they can give inside information.
A lot of times that info is dead wrong, leading to all the natural questions regarding how worthwhile it is to pay attention to any of this to begin with.
Put simply, we don't know. And we never will. We'll always try to find out, of course, because that's our duty, and we'll always pass that along to you, dear reader, because that's also our duty.
It's a vicious cycle.
But here's what we do know: CM Punk is gone. We know this because, well, do you see him? Have you heard from him?
So instead of holding out hope that Vince McMahon will somehow convince him to come back for one more run, one more shot at the big time, one more chance at achieving his lifelong goal of wrestling in the main event of the biggest show of the year, WrestleMania, let's just say goodbye.
It's time. It probably has been for weeks but we didn't want to accept it. Let us do so now, together.
He's gone. He's not coming back. If he does, we'll be pleasantly (or maybe not so) surprised, and that will feel nice. But acceptance is the first step to moving past this. No more fantasy booking. No more dream scenarios of WWE title wins and 60 minute Iron Man matches with Daniel Bryan and sweeping change within WWE.
Just so long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night.