Welcome back for some more Collective Thoughts where I won’t be covering WCW this week, but will be talking about one of the biggest wrestling superstars of the last 25 years, CM Punk. With his impending return to pro wrestling on the horizon, it seems fitting.
I am a big CM Punk fan. For a little bit of context, I didn’t watch wrestling for a long time and often found myself wondering why I ever did in the first place. The product was in the toilet and I would say from about 2007-2011, I watched very minimally. Then, I stumbled across the Pipe Bomb promo one night randomly, and it all came rushing back to me. The entire premise of the promo was fantastic and just the way Punk delivered it, I knew I had to start watching to see what happened next.
I know I am not alone in saying the Pipe Bomb brought me back to wrestling. We all know that happened after that. He won the WWE Title on multiple occasions, faced off against big names like John Cena and Brock Lesnar, and was one of the biggest stars we had seen since the Attitude Era. Then, after all that, in 2014, he felt the WWE was doing him dirty. He quit abruptly the day after the Royal Rumble and hasn’t been seen in wrestling since then, sans some time on a Fox show which was just a waste of a return.
That’s the backstory of how we got to 2021. Now, I know I glossed over some parts, but this isn’t about the past, it’s about the future. That 2011 year was dubbed “The Summer of Punk” and with reports of him coming to AEW shortly, we might be in line for “The Autumn of Punk” throughout the remainder of the year in AEW. As a Punk fan, this is very good news. I feel like Punk brings a grittiness to his presentation that is lacking in other performers. His moves aren’t as slick or polished but that just adds some charm to the whole thing. The question is going to be, where does he find a place on this AEW roster? That is definitely a question on everybody’s mind, especially with other huge superstars like Bryan Danielson and Bray Wyatt potentially coming in and with guys like Malakai Black already there. Obviously, I am sure a former World Champion like Punk will be fine. He has shown in the past that he can really work with anyone and with the young talent in AEW currently, the possibilities are endless. I guess for my thinking, I am just worried about a couple of these guys getting lost in the shuffle.
Now with saying all of this, the amount of money Tony Khan is probably going to pay Punk leads me to believe he will be in the World Title picture immediately. I don’t want to make this a fantasy booking thing, but having Punk come in and not be a top guy would be a huge misstep. As many people that say that Kenny Omega is the best wrestler on the planet, claims that I agree and disagree with, I feel like Punk will dwarf him in both star power, and promo ability. In-ring work would go to Omega, but sometimes it’s about the entire presentation. To have stars come in that will be a bigger deal than your World Champion is something I don’t think anyone would want. He will probably be put in the title picture right after debuting, whether it be against Kenny Omega or his recently appointed opponent for All Out, Christian Cage. I have a sneaking suspicion that Omega will win the match. Either way, having Punk as one of the faces of the brand certainly isn’t a bad thing, but like I just pointed out, he doesn’t need to be champion right away either.
Bringing guys like Punk and Danielson in are good things for the AEW brand. They have been stars and probably have a couple of years left of quality matches under their belts. The issue is going to be where they all fall into place. For someone like Punk, it’s not hard for me to see him playing a “Rowdy” Roddy Piper role where he is in the main events but maybe doesn’t need to hold the title as much as some other guys. Will he have a run with it? I assume so, but I don’t think it is something that is imperative to his character. Have the guy come in, be a full-fledged heel, and let him develop a character with his own input. That’s probably one of the reasons he didn’t go back to WWE. At least, if nothing else, Tony Khan will give him creative freedom to become the character he has always wanted to be in wrestling on a big stage. With his time winding down (Punk is 42 years old), why the hell wouldn’t you give it one more run?
We have no way of knowing what is going to happen in the wrestling world in the next few days, months, years, or whatever the case may be. With all the speculation though, it’s hard not to get excited for this next phase of wrestling which looks like it is about to boom. With all the momentum AEW has right now, they would be foolish not to jump at the chance to load the roster with bonafide stars that may or may not have a gigantic chip on their shoulder. Punk is and should have always been, at the top of the list. Final note, he better be at The United Center this Friday on August 20th for Rampage, or people are liable to freak out.
How do you feel about Punk’s potential return to wrestling? Love it? Hate it? You don’t care all that much? Either way, keep the conversation going over @collectiveheel on Twitter, and let me know your thoughts. I will be rotating between a column and WCW review every week, so please be sure to check those out along with everything else the site has been pumping out. It’s an exciting time to be a wrestling fan and we should all be enjoying it. Take care of yourselves, and each other. I will be back soon enough with some more Collective Thoughts.