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AEW reportedly will ‘never work with’ CM Punk, who could be looking to return to the ring for WWE

UFC 225 Open Workouts Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

On the latest Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer was talking CM Punk. It’s the usual mix of scoop and speculation, and both are worthy of discussion. So let’s dive in.

The reason Punk was a topic of conversation between Meltzer & Bryan Alvarez is, of course, the surprising news yesterday that The Straight Edge One is well along in the process of joining Fox Sport’s WWE Backstage studio show.

Dave heard Punk’s audition went well, and expects he’ll be offered a job on the show. He doesn’t think WWE management will be thrilled about that, but they’re apparently either on board or not against it enough to ask Fox to refrain from working with their former contractor.

There are also apparently multiple people in WWE and the industry at large who believe Punk’s goal is to return to the company as a wrestler on a big-money, part-time contract a la Brock Lesnar & Bill Goldberg’s. It doesn’t seem Punk is the source of this item, so consider that when deciding if you agree.

But that talk may have been part of Cody Rhodes saying he thought Punk would return to WWE, a comment almost everyone dismissed at the time.

At the same time, however, there is something to the reason most of us dismissed that comment from Punk. The big takeaway from the WOR segment is that Punk telling ESPN’s Marc Raimondi that AEW only ever texted him offers and kept mentioning him for attention burned his bridge to that company. And Meltzer says that did come from a first-hand source, something he has several of at All Elite:

“Even though AEW has told me that they would never work with him, and I believe that they believe that on this day... they told me that after the Marc Raimondi article. They were very - I mean my thought was you never say never, but, no no... it would be difficult. But, yeah yeah, it was pretty much told to me that they would never - they felt very disrespected by what he said, and they should have if you know what the real story was and I can’t go into too much detail, but I do know it, and, you know, it’s Punk. He’s a martyr. And I don’t know why he felt like he needed to make that enemy? Maybe he just felt he did to - who knows? Maybe he was just mad over - something. I can’t always figure out how he’s wired.”

It’s possible that cooler heads have already prevailed at AEW, however. That, or Cody is just smart enough to not publicly say what he or one his fellow executives said to Dave. In an interview with Collider Live this past week where he was asked about the chances of Punk joining Tony Khan’s company, and internal reaction to that ESPN interview, Rhodes said:

“50/50? I really liked Phil and he was really nice to me when I was in OVW as kind of a locker room leader and then he has such a successful run in WWE. I never really had an adversarial relationship with him. I know he doesn’t like when we discuss him, but I explained it to him once; a lot of people ask us about him. I don’t want to say ‘no comment.’ Perhaps he doesn’t want to be involved in wrestling anymore. If that’s the case, no big deal. You gave us your body and this body of work and CM Punk was an awesome wrestler.

He did kind of make us look like dumbasses, saying we sent him a text offer. I’m sure we texted him, but we also called him. Someone also met him in a coffee shop. We made genuine efforts. In 2019, [he’s had] quite some time away from the ring, we gotta focus on who really wants to be on board with us versus going out and finding someone who perhaps doesn’t want to be part of this. I didn’t really communicate with him further after that. I expected to see him at Starrcast. He gave this great live show where he was great with his answers. I’m sure we’ll run into each other at some point.

If he ever wanted to be part of this and had the passion to come back to wrestling, that door is always open. No ego, no situation would ever prevent us from having him come in because the fans have never given up on Punk. Ever.”

Of course, if the people who think Punk wants to be a WWE part-timer are right, and the FS1 gig is his foot in the door to that, it might not matter how open or closed the door to AEW is.

We shall see. One thing’s for certain. It’s never dull when it comes to Phil Brooks.