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CM Punk made a triumphant return to a WWE ring at Madison Square Garden

Punk also expressed gratitude to the fans and made a bold declaration of his intent to win the Royal Rumble and headline WrestleMania.

CM Punk triumphantly returned to a WWE ring Tuesday night (Dec. 26) at a live event at New York’s fabled Madison Square Garden, where the fans there gave him a hero’s welcome.

Making his way to the ring for a match against Dominik Mysterio, Punk seemed genuinely happy to be back in the building that one of his idols, Bret Hart, once called holy ground. As he came into full view of the crowd, he did his signature poses and even stopped to pose alongside an inflatable Nutcracker. Punk then hugged fans (and a security guard) and stopped to take pictures and sign autographs as he made his way down the aisle.

Dressed in black trunks and black boots, the Garden crowd saw a no-frills version of Punk, who was very much on his game against Mysterio. Though his last match was in AEW this past August, the audience chanted, “You still got it,” as he got the better of Mysterio early on and performed pushups in front of Rhea Ripley.

After putting away the former NXT North American Champion with his signature move, the GTS, Punk expressed his gratitude to the New York faithful before letting them know what to expect in the coming months.

“I’ll be honest, there’s a little bit, a little part of me that came here for me. But you guys are the high tide that raises all ships. You have carried me throughout my career to my greatest moments, and this is one of them.

“So I want you to look to your left, and I want you to look to your right. I want you to look at the people behind you, I want you to say hello to your neighbors, I want you to shake hands. We are all in this together.

“When I wake up in the morning, when somebody asks me how my day is, I say, ‘Hey, I woke up this morning.’ Everything else after that I’m fortunate for. Every day I’m in this ring in front of all of you, I am fortunate for.

“I came back here to finish what I started. It starts tonight in the World’s Greatest Arena in front of you, the greatest fans on earth. And I know I got stiff competition, but I’m here to finish what I started. And when I win the Royal Rumble and go on to main event WrestleMania, ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to let you know that it isn’t me finishing my story. That’s just me getting started!”

It was an impassioned speech from a fired-up Punk who was grateful to be back in the Garden. Hours before the doors opened, Punk spoke to WWE cameras, calling it a cool moment and saying he never thought he’d be back at MSG in a wrestling capacity.

According to the website, The History of WWE, Punk’s last match at Madison Square Garden was on March 18, 2012. At the time, Punk was the WWE Champion. He teamed with Triple H and Randy Orton to defeat Chris Jericho, then-Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes, and Dolph Ziggler after Triple H pinned Ziggler with a tombstone piledriver.

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