Seth Rollins and CM Punk had quite a promo battle this past Monday on Raw (Dec. 11). After a verbal dressing down by Rollins, Punk let everyone know that he was entering the Royal Rumble match and, after he wins it, may challenge Rollins for his World Championship.
But it’s what Rollins said to Punk during their face-off that was both ruthlessly rousing and eerily reminiscent.
The Visionary was upfront with his feelings about CM Punk, saying he hated him with every fiber of his being. He also took exception to Punk calling WWE and Raw his home after Punk spent years bashing the company and performers like Rollins. Rollins also said he would do everything to protect his home from people like Punk.
Hmm, a world champion taking up for the company he works for and promising to protect it and defend it from someone like CM Punk.
Doesn’t that sound familiar?
Indeed, it does.
Rollins’ words were nearly a copy and paste of what a world champion in Punk’s previous place of employment said to him before their 2022 title showdown, which led to acrimony between Punk and several members of that promotion’s roster. Yet, a day later, no reports of ill will and negativity have made their way to the dirt sheets. And Punk, to the best of everyone’s knowledge, hasn’t tried to take anyone’s block off.
What’s the difference?
I’m glad you asked.
From this writer’s point of view, it would appear that everything Rollins said was agreed upon by all parties, which wasn’t the case for Punk in AEW. There, a few off-the-cuff remarks by Hangman Page planted the seeds of mistrust in Punk’s head which contributed to a hostile work environment. As Punk said in an interview prior to his brief return to Tony Khan’s company earlier this year, he was sorry for his role in how things went but admitted that his actions were a result of frustration after his boss (and his boss’ attorneys) failed to take action after being made aware of Punk’s concerns.
Therefore, before Punk signed with WWE, it wouldn’t be surprising if creative head Triple H talked to Punk about what happened at his last wrestling job. It also wouldn’t be shocking if Triple H, in no uncertain terms, let Punk know that the behavior he exhibited at his last post would not be tolerated in WWE. At the same time, the company wouldn’t put Punk in a position to feel uncomfortable as he did elsewhere, especially with all the money both sides potentially stand to make.
Let’s talk about that.
The reaction to last night’s segment was mostly well-received. To say that many fans are looking forward to future promo battles, as well as the match itself between Rollins and Punk, is an understatement.
But because there were so many similarities between this showdown and the one at Punk’s former working residence, it’s fair to question how much bigger it would’ve been had any of the possible Punk vs. The Elite angles happened in AEW. Because there, the tension was highly palpable, and how that company might have benefitted from that is immeasurable.
Sadly, we’ll never know, and nor does it matter. Punk’s former coworkers will presumably still get their guaranteed checks on time, regardless of how good business is or isn’t. With Punk gone, it’s again possible the promotion can return to being whatever its remaining founders want it to be.
Ultimately, though, everyone’s a winner. Punk looks destined to headline WrestleMania and fulfill a lifelong goal. The “children” Punk once said he worked with have control of their clubhouse again. And the fans, though it may not be the program they wanted coming out of Brawl Out, are excited to see something that has real teeth to it between two men with a history together.
And for the company about to stage the Punk-Rollins exhibition, a boatload of money is about to be made, which in business is the name of the game.