It felt like it might never happen as recently as a few months ago. But that changed when the first reports hit that CM Punk was talking about returning, and then we had “The First Dance” on the Aug. 20 Rampage.
Still, if you needed to wait and see the Best in the World climb into the ring for his first match since 2014... All Out on Sept. 5 gave you that.
Punk, now wrestling in a full set of tights rather than just trunks, was greeted by the Chicagoland crowd with the kind of ecstatic response he’s received everywhere over the past month. Both he and his opponent, Darby Allin, knew exactly how to extend the moment. Allin was staring daggers into the returning legend from the moment Punk hit the stage. In the ring, this was their final bit of stage setting...
They didn’t wait too long to speed things up. This is a Darby Allin match we’re talking about. Punk had an answer for that, though.
The veteran sought to keep control of the pace, hitting a backbreaker, then stretching his opponent and trying to force Darby into a technical match. The former TNT champ proved he could adapt his style.
A Code Red and a crossbody counter got Allin nearfalls, but Punk was able to comeback to his GTS - but Darby fell the floor before he could cover. An attempt to do it again was foiled, then the 42 year old connected with the suicide dive Punk’s been dreading taking for months. A senton off the top started a final stretch with both men going full speed.
There were counters aplenty, with Punk being extremely pleased with himself for sitting up to avoid a Coffin Drop...
...and Allin almost turning another GTS attempt into a pinning predicament. But the Chicagoan finally hit his finisher clean, and won his return match.
Sting came out to shake Punk’s hand, and while Allin refused to be helped up by the Best in the World, he would accept a handshake.
Probably a little too much of the feeling out process stuff at the beginning, and of the “Punk slows things down” middle section, but the final act was killer.
Get complete All Out results and coverage of the entire show here.