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CM Punk explains why he returned to wrestling with AEW

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After his memorable return to pro wrestling on AEW Rampage last night (Fri., Aug. 20), CM Punk sat down to answer questions from media who’d assembled in Chicago for “The First Dance”.

Punk was joined by his new boss, Tony Khan. Together they revealed a few details about Punk’s AEW deal. We got a lot more information about why the 42 year old Chicagoan decided this was the right time & situation for him to return, seven years after his WWE exit.

- While there wasn’t a lot of information shared about his contract, Khan did say it “...isn’t a short-term thing or a part-time thing. This is full-time and we’re very excited.” Punk added, “Just know that I’m here, it’s not a short-term thing and I’m here to help anyone that wants help.”

- His deal does allow him to continue doing MMA commentary, and to pursue outside projects.

- The two men have been talking for about a year-and-a-half. Punk reiterated comments from recent interviews about how he’s heard from a lot promoters over the years who made big promises. His hesitancy was not “a slight on Tony at all. It’s more of, it’s more of a slight at me being a paranoid, neurotic, anxiety-ridden, very careful person, and I wasn’t in a hurry.”

- Punk jokingly blamed Renee Paquette for his return, pointing to her recruiting him to work on FOX Sports’ WWE Backstage. He said doing Backstage was a way to get his feet wet before jumping back into the pro wrestling pool.

- Regarding his time away from pro wrestling and the decision to return, Punk said, “Sometimes you fall out of love with stuff. If you set something free and it comes back to you, it’s true love.”

- While he said AEW didn’t have anything to prove to him, and his return was more about him being open to it, Punk did mention the way no one on the roster said anything about Brodie Lee’s illness before his tragic death really impressed him.

- In a lot of Punk & Khan’s conversations, they’d say the same things at the same time. Punk said wrestling doesn’t need to be as hard as some people make it out to be; you don’t need 16 cooks in the kitchen.

- No one thing made up his mind, however. “It was just more about the spirit of the thing. Instead of feeling like a house, it [AEW] felt like a home. It’s the best way I can possibly describe it.”

- Punk spoke repeatedly about wanting to give back with this run. He sees his role in AEW as similar to the one guys like Terry Funk, Eddie Guerrero, Harley Race and Tracy Smothers played in his career.

- In terms of future opponents, he mentioned The Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, Ricky Starks, Will Hobbs, Jungle Boy and Jon Moxley. Punk joked that he doesn’t know who else might join the company, but Tony probably does.

- Darby Allin as his first opponent was Khan’s idea. Punk said Darby would be his favorite wrestler if he was a teenager, and again put over Allin’s suicide dive, saying he’s not looking forward to taking it.

- Punk mentioning Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. in the first lines of his promo was by design. He’s a big fan, and says she’s a great example of how to get a talent over.

- Asked about The Forbidden Door, Punk said “I’m an AEW guy.” But if Khan wants him to work, for example, New Japan’s G1 Climax tournament, he’s open to discussing it.

- Punk thinks he’ll do a little bit of everything for AEW, including commentary.

- There was never any discussion of returning without fans, so the pandemic bought them time to plan last night. “The First Dance” was a collaboration, and Khan talked about wanted it to be a surprise, but one everyone was anticipating. He said it came together exactly the way they wanted it to.

- He was not hidden backstage during the show, and as social media will attest, mingled with much of the roster throughout the night. Asked about guys he’s had heat with in the past, he only said there were no issues anyone on Friday.

Overall, the press scrum and the two mens comments during it seem to have come across as another well-executed element of a well-executed night. Let us know what you think.