Stone Cold Steve Austin has been one of the most vocal believers that CM Punk would return to WWE sooner rather than later following his post-Royal Rumble exit earlier this year.
Much of his reasoning was based on his own walkout more than a decade earlier. While Austin will be the first to admit that his personal financial situation was different, it seems there may be another difference in the terms of their departures which could explain why Punk was able to walk away - and that would indicate that the door is at least cracked open for his return.
This from the latest The Wrestling Observer:
Regarding an interesting point, when Steve Austin talked about when he walked out in 2002, he noted that because he breached the contract, he got no royalties. He noted bills kept coming in and money wasn't coming in. That was his reason for saying he thought Punk would be back. However, with Punk, I don't know the details of the terms legally and financially they split on. It's very clear both sides agreed neither would say anything negative about the other, or even speak of the split. Punk is still getting royalties on his merchandise, which are pretty substantial. Even as of a few weeks ago, he was second only to Cena in merchandise sold. Officially, Punk is still not suspended, nor fired, nor released, but simply on a leave.
So there may be hope of a reconciliation after all.
Many of us have noticed that The Best merchandise in the World has remained prominently placed on WWE Shop, and at full price, in the months since we last saw the man who made the Chicago flag famous for millions of wrestling fans. If the reports are true that Punk met with Vince McMahon before leaving, leading to his simply being listed as unavailable on WWE scripts, the Chairman telling investors that the star was on sabbatical and now this possibility that he and the company are still making substantial amounts of money together...well, that certainly doesn't sound like any bridges have been burned.
It also is another point for debate among fans who either felt that Phil Brooks did something "wrong" by breaching his contract and those that have maintained that we couldn't judge since we didn't know the details. If he and WWE worked out an arrangement by which they were complicit with the way in which he left - it might not be the ideal cirmumstances for the company, but it's not as if they didn't have a say, or aren't getting any financial benefit from his character in his absence.
Does this change your opinion, Cagesiders, either about the manner in which he left or the prospect of a CM Punk return?