We heard from CM Punk shortly after his return to pro wrestling on AEW Rampage last Fri., Aug. 20 (video & key points from his post-show presser can be found here). With a couple days to reflect, Punk spoke more about the night - and his future - as a guest on a radio show in his beloved Chicago this morning.
“That might have been the greatest moment - the greatest night of my career… Just the entire night couldn’t have gone more perfect. The way we set it up as the worst kept secret - man, selling out the United Center on a rumor that I was going to be there, never announced, never advertised. It shows the connection to the fanbase that AEW has, that they get it, right? They want to be involved, they want to be entertained, they want to go up to shows and have a good time. So we didn’t feel the need to beat ‘em over the head to get a TV rating. And don’t get me wrong, I know executives at TNT love their ratings. But to me pro wrestling has always been about moments, and getting people to feel something. It was a perfect storm, perfect night.
“The way I debuted, everybody being super-positive backstage, I met so many new people. You know, having my family with me - I could go on and on. It was the perfect night and the perfect moment for so many reasons. And I’m just talking personally. Publicly, I think it’s a smashing success. A lot of people love YouTube views, and likes, and clicks and all that stuff. That stuff doesn’t really matter to me all that much, but it’s a big deal to a lot of people. I know the metrics and the analytics people love that kind of stuff, but to me it was just about making people happy.”
In between a lot of Chicago sports talk, Punk also gave a scouting report on the AEW roster:
“They’re young and they’re hungry and what they lack in experience, they make up for with effort. And that’s just tremendous. I look at it like I’m the veteran slugger on a major league team and I’m coming onto this team that’s just full of prospects. And a lot of people maybe count ‘em out, but I just - they’re so eager to go out there and not only entertain the fans, but they want to have fun doing it. And I think when the performers in the ring are having a good time, I think that resonates, and I think the fans can see that, and it helps enjoy the moment.”
And he talked preparation for his match against Darby Allin at All Out on Sun., Sept. 5 at ow Arena in Hoffman Estates, Illinois:
“I think it’s a lot of, ‘Can Punk still go?’ ‘Can Punk still wrestle in the ring? ‘Can he be entertaining?’ Fortunately for me, I was never a guy that did a whole bunch of crazy flips and stuff like that, so I don’t have to go back and try to do these amazing athletic feats. My goal is to tell a story. And the way I get ready for this is to watch a lot of Darby Allin matches. It’s no different than a sports team watching tape on the team that they’re playing. I watch him and see what he can do, and then I get to get creative about it. And that’s how I get ready. Obviously, I’m in a television show that’s called Heels that’s on the Starz network. I’ve been in the ring. We’re filming wrestling. I have gotten in the ring and I have been training but not super extensively because it beats your body up, so I’m trying to be smart about it. But mostly just watching tape on him, and I’m impressed by what I see.”
Like last Friday night, this all continues to sound pretty perfect to me. CM Punk’s return is great. CM Punk returning happy & energized? Even better.