CM Punk hadn’t been seen on a wrestling show (and no, we’re not counting this) since the 2014 Royal Rumble. In the time since, he made a run at being a UFC fighter before turning to MMA commentary, and embarked upon a promising acting career.
Already a huge presence in the business based on his Ring of Honor and WWE runs, especially after his 2011 “Pipe Bomb” promo threatened to make wrestling cool again, after walking away from Vince McMahon’s company and the entire business he became something more to wrestling fans. Some hated him for leaving, and not having flattering things to say about their favorite pastime once he was gone. Others wanted him back, and turned his name into a way to express their displeasure with whatever they didn’t like about WWE.
Years passed, and it seemed like Punk might be the rare wrestler to actually leave it all behind. Then AEW launched, and started to have success. It was seen as the perfect place for the self-styled Best in the World to return, contribute to a business he had started to speak of warmly again during his short stint commenting on WWE for FOX Sports, and maybe stick it Vince & company in the process.
A report hit last month he was in talks for a comeback. Those talks were with Tony Khan, and AEW announced “The First Dance” for their second-ever episode of Rampage in Chicago. The company never announced Punk, but they and he made progressively more obvious references to his arrival.
Then tonight (Aug. 20) in the United Center, it happened.
Punk had tears in his eyes as he hit the ramp. He rose to soak in the applause and couldn’t keep the smile off his face. On the way to the ring, he dove into the crowd, then hugged a few more fans ringside.
It really happened, folks. He’s back!