In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Punk emphasized that his primary motivation for choosing which projects to work on is that he wants to surround himself with quality people who will create a compelling product. That partially explains why he has not returned to WWE:
“There’s good entertainment, there’s bad entertainment. I try to do the projects I think are good...I get offered to do a lot of stuff, and I say no to 90% of it just because my thing is I need to work with quality human beings. It just seems like maybe in pro wrestling there is a lack of quality human beings. I don’t know. I like doing fun, quality projects. If there is a fun, quality wrestling project that gets sent my way, I will listen to it.”
“I don’t need the money. And the way the wrestling business is now, it’s wacky. You’ve got WWE, who has multiple billion-dollar television deals, and the television’s awful. I go back there, I’m just another guy. And it’s not even that—I’d be just another guy that’s doing not-good television. I want to do stuff that’s good. I want my name attached to quality projects, where it’s fun and it makes people laugh, smile, think and people don’t hate watching it. I want to do fun stuff.”
In today’s age where it’s hard to know exactly which wrestlers are most responsible for driving WWE’s massive revenue flow, Punk is probably right to suggest that he would quickly become another spoke on the wheel of WWE, just as he said 10 years ago in his famous pipebomb promo. That being said, Punk did remain a fixture in WWE’s upper card after June 2011, so maybe his concept of “just another guy” isn’t exactly defined by the level of push one receives.
The bigger point he’s making is that he doesn’t need the money, so he wants to do work that stimulates his creative side and involves good people. I won’t comment on the quality of people in WWE, but I can say for sure that I get why he would watch Raw and walk away with the impression that it’s a stagnant product that won’t come close to scratching his itch for creating quality entertainment.
Punk’s observation about the landscape of pro wrestling possibly lacking quality human beings is sure to rub some folks in the industry the wrong way, because there are plenty of good people out there working in pro wrestling. They just haven’t found the insane dollar figure that it will take to draw Punk back in, because even if Punk says it’s not the primary factor, of course money is still an important part of the equation.
That being said, the necessary terms for Punk’s return to pro wrestling aren’t that hard to decipher. He wants a very interesting creative direction, a boatload of money, and to either work with quality people or maybe Will Ospreay.
Easy peasy. Which wrestling company do you think has the best chance to find that right combination of factors to lure Punk back into pro wrestling?