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WWE: Welcome Back CM Punk; What Will His Future Hold? – by Mike Sanchez

‘It’s as simple as this; just when you think they got the answers, I change the culture.’

Those were the first words spoken by CM Punk in a WWE setting since returning from his nearly six-year hiatus. With inspiration taken from “Rowdy” Roddy Piper – who said the original line of ‘just when they think they got the answers, I change the questions’ – Punk is in good company. Piper, much like Punk, was a rebel in the business. Famed for taking no crap from anyone, speaking his mind, regardless of whether people wanted to hear it or not, and having an incredible mind for the business, both men draw clear parallels both in their approach to their craft and in their high-level ability to deliver promos. Sadly Piper never got the chance to see Punk use Piper’s words to announce to the world that he was back in WWE, but the impact was felt around the wrestling community regardless – just watch Samoa Joe’s face when Punk’s music hits.

Firstly, let me reign in my enthusiasm. CM Punk has not returned as an active, full-time wrestler. Punk’s contract is with FOX and not specifically with WWE, although there will likely be some sort of cross-brand partnership in there somewhere. Punk has been brought back purely to give analysis on WWE Backstage, a show on FOX hosted by the excellent Renee Young where WWE superstars give their thoughts and opinions on WWE shows and events. I haven’t seen much of the show so far, but will certainly be tuning in from now on. Is this all Punk will do for WWE right now, or can his talents be used elsewhere? Let’s take a look at the possibilities.

Analyst

The role Punk was brought in to do. A backstage video (see below) shows the minutes leading up to his arrival at FOX Studios and him speaking openly about his thoughts on the new position. He says the idea of being a pundit, contributor or analyst intrigued him, hence why he took the role on. I really like the way FOX has gone with this show. Not only does it give WWE more of a sports feel, by emulating similar shows dedicated to NBA, NFL etc. but also gives the superstars license to talk openly on how they think and feel about certain aspects of the current WWE show. Recently a topic for discussion was the current Lana/Rusev/Lashey love triangle. Almost everyone asked didn’t tow the company line and praise it to the heavens, but gave a carefully measured response that conveyed they didn’t particularly care for the angle, but at the same time didn’t crap of those involved or the bookers. It was honest, light-hearted and fun, but respectful at the same time.

Punk is well known for not being shy and not backward in coming forwards. While I doubt he’ll trash the company or any angles, he will be honest and speak his mind, perhaps offering up suggestions or critiques on how the shows can be improved. There’s a lot of talent on the roster than Punk has worked with and are his friends, so he’ll want to see people do well, while also casting an eye on the NXT talent and I can imagine that’ll be something he’ll relish.

Commentator

Punk mentions this in the backstage video as something he wouldn’t be interested in doing. I think it would be a stretch too far right now as WWE has recently shaken up the roster of announcers and commentators and they’re doing really well. The new announce teams are more understated in their roles and play a supporting role. Raw especially has done this very well, aside from Dio Maddin getting tossed around the entrance ramp by Brock Lesnar.

Smackdown’s announce team is a good fit with Corey Graves playing a great foil to the always dependable Michael Cole with Renee Young chiming in from time to time. Though I think Punk would do a great job on commentary, it would be too small for him. His first few weeks would see crowds cheering for him and overshadowing the matches in the ring. Perhaps this could have been a possibility at one time, just not now.

Wrestler

Face it, this is what we want to see; CM Punk back in a WWE ring. I’m not going to list how skilled he is, because we all know how good he is and his megastar status is fully deserved. What intrigues me most, is how long he can resist the allure of the squared circle. Perhaps he has zero interest in donning ring gear again and is very content to stay on the periphery of the company. Perhaps not all wounds have healed and he still has heat with some of the WWE’s top brass. Then again, who would ever have thought the Ultimate Warrior would return? Who would’ve thought Bret Hart would have come back? There are many more examples of ‘Well, I never saw that coming’, so who’s to say what could happen in the future?

The biggest attraction for CM Punk is that the landscape of WWE has changed since he was last with the company. Punk’s last appearance in WWE was in January 2014 at the Royal Rumble. Back then, a group of young upstarts called The Shield were dominating the show, The Authority were abusing their power, Goldust and Cody Rhodes were on Monday Night Raw, Batista, Brad Maddox and Ryback were also on the show. Over on Smackdown, JBL was on commentary, Bray Wyatt was bemoaning Daniel Bryan’s betrayal, a pre New Day Big E was facing off against Fandango and Alberto Del Rio took on Rey Mysterio. The Rhodes boys featured again and faced off against the New Age Outlaws. It was almost six years ago, but it seems like so much longer. Now Punk has a whole host of potential new challengers to face. The entire NXT roster, a successful and high profile Seth Rollins, AJ Styles, his old friend Samoa Joe, the list goes on. Of course, we want to see him wrestle again. He was the self-styled ‘best in the world’ for good reason. I don’t think any wrestling fan would not want to see him involved once again. Punk left at the peak of his WWE career. I don’t think for one moment anyone doubts his ability or if he can still go. Of course he can, he’s CM Punk. Here’s hoping we get to see him in the ring at least one more time.

So, what do you think? Are you excited to see CM Punk back? Will he stay on WWE Backstage, or will the lights and action tempt him back into the ring? If so, who would you like to see him face? I’d love to hear your thoughts. As always, thanks for reading.