5 Forbidden Door Opponents for CM Punk

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 31: CM Punk attends the WWE Monday Night Raw Supershow Halloween event at the Philips Arena on October 31, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Moses Robinson/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 31: CM Punk attends the WWE Monday Night Raw Supershow Halloween event at the Philips Arena on October 31, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Moses Robinson/Getty Images) /

CM Punk made his long-awaited return to professional wrestling this past Friday when he showed face on the second episode of AEW Rampage. The return is up there with some of the best in history and has amassed a ton of attention on the start-up company.

There are so many potential great matchups that await the former WWE Champion. Guys like Kenny Omega, MJF, Malakai Black, Ricky Starks, and Miro are all fantastic potential opponents for Punk now that he’s officially back in wrestling.

I can’t help but wonder about potential matchups outside of AEW as well. Although Punk did say that he’s focused on AEW right now, he also didn’t completely rule out the possibility of him journeying into other promotions.

Punk’s first match is already confirmed to be with Darby Allin So in light of the good spirit of fun, I’m gonna take a look at my top five potential “Forbidden Door” opponents for the Best In The World himself, CM Punk.

5. Ace Austin – Impact Wrestling

If you’ve ever watched Ace Austin, you’ve probably noticed some striking similarities to an early-day CM Punk. Austin wrestles and carries himself in a way that’s very similar to the way Punk did during his historic time in Ring Of Honor.

Austin is only 24 years old and his potential in Impact is completely uncapped, but a match with Punk would get a ton of eyes on the future superstar and even Impact as a whole.

Although it was mainly a tag team run, Punk has a history with the company. He wrestled for the NWA/TNA version of the company back in 2003-2004, only a few years before he signed with WWE.

4. KENTA – New Japan Pro Wrestling

This choice has a bit more rhyme and reason to it than the previous entry. It’s well known that Kenta was the wrestler who invented the Go-To-Sleep knee strike, although it was Punk who popularized the move in North America.

The two have exchanged words over social media repeatedly over the matter, with Punk saying that Kenta acts “sensitive” over the move. Kenta responded by saying he’d rather see anyone but Punk uses the finisher.

Whether the dislike between the two is genuine or not, there’s no denying that the two would put on a great match. There’s a fantastic story to be told just around the GTS maneuver itself.

3. Davey Richards – Major League Wrestling

Although the bridge between MLW and AEW has yet to connect to the fullest extent, I do believe the two companies would benefit each other tremendously.

Richards and Punk were some of the biggest independent wrestling stars of the 2000s, but they both hit their stride in each of the two halves of the decade. Punk’s rise was from 2001-2005, while Richards was more from 2006-2010. Because of this, the two unfortunately never got to meet in a match.

Punk had a short stint in MLW in 2003, so you could play up a big return to the promotion based on that alone. Combine that with the fact that Punk and Richards have never met in the ring and that their primes didn’t line up, I think you have a made match.

2. Pope/Elijah Burke – National Wrestling Alliance

While this one doesn’t jump off the page as a work-rate masterpiece, it’s on the list because I have a soft spot for the history between the two.

Elijah Burke (now known as Pope) and CM Punk had a fun feud that lasted the entire duration of 2007 in WWE ECW. The feud included a few ECW Championship matches and they even earned a spot on two pay-per-views as well.

The feud is held in high regard for me because they wrestled at the first wrestling show I ever went to, which was an ECW/Smackdown house show in St Joseph, Missouri on September 22nd, 2007.

Since I was six years old at the time of attendance, I don’t remember much. But the one match I do remember vividly is, you guessed it, the Punk and Burke match.

Aside from personal bias, I do think that Pope is one of the only people from the NWA that I feel would match up well and make a memorable story with Punk. The history is there and Pope is an incredibly underrated wrestler, so I don’t see why the match wouldn’t be good, if not great.

1. Will Ospreay – New Japan Pro Wrestling

Ever since Punk resurfaced into the public wrestling eye when he became a part of the now-defunct WWE Backstage show, he’s made it very clear that he loves Will Ospreay’s work and that a match with the former IWGP World Heavyweight Champion “intrigued” him. Ospreay responded accordingly, saying that Punk should do the match just to prove he wasn’t the “best of a bad bunch”.

Despite being controversial over time, there’s no denying that Ospreay is a top-tier worker in the entire business and could carry anybody to a fantastic match. When you combine that with somebody else like Punk who is not only a fantastic wrestler but a phenomenal promo, you’re guaranteed to have a great match and story.

There are a ton of intriguing matchups that await the Second City Saint if he so chooses to venture into Japan, but Ospreay and KENTA make the most sense just for the history and the stories you can tell.

Whether Punk decides to stay put and be content with AEW or whether he wanders into other promotions, I think I can speak for everybody when I say: I’m just really glad that he’s home.