The entire WWE fandom is currently buzzing about one of the biggest returns in WWE within the last decade. Less than 24hrs ago, CM Punk made his return to WWE at Survivor Series War Games. After being away from the WWE ring for almost nine years, Punk’s Music suddenly started to play, immediately following the men’s War Games match. The chants and screams from the fans nearly drowned out Punk’s entrance music, blowing the roof off Chicago. One thing is for sure, history already seems likely to repeat itself. Immediately upon Punk’s entrance into the arena, not everyone was happy to see the returning Icon.
After seeing and hearing about Punk’s termination months prior in AEW, it would make a lot of sense why wrestlers on the WWE roster are concerned and upset over Punk’s long-awaited return to the company. Punk has demonstrated time and time again that he’s not exactly a team player. While he has earned the respect of many of his peers throughout his career for his in-ring performance and straightforwardness, his sometimes unorthodox style of handling professional beef has hindered him and his relationships with many of his fellow wrestlers.
While WWE only kept the cameras on Punk and the fans, superstars in the ring, exhausted from the War Games main event showed visible anger and rage towards the sight of Punk. The most outrageous response of them all so far came from Seth Rollins. Caught on camera by a fan, Rollins could be seen at the bottom of the ramp, flipping off Punk, screaming “F*ck you, bro!! Go f*ck yourself!!” Rollins was held back by referees, Commentators Michael Cole and Corey Graves, and even Sami Zayn, seen trying to counsel a furious Rollins.
Judging by the fact that WWE didn’t get any of this on camera and that Rollins’ behavior wasn’t even PG (Shout out to R-Truth,) it’s likely that Rollins was not simply acting in character, he was genuinely enraged. Not to mention, commentators almost never get up and involve themselves in a work because they are seen as contributors to the story in their own way. This is not a shock to most after Rollins’ prior comments on Punk just earlier this year.
Rollins was not the only one who appeared enraged upon the conclusion of the PLE. It’s been reported that Drew McIntyre was seen grabbing his belongings, slamming the locker room door, and storming out of the building. Mclyntrye was also seen leaving in a hoodie, no doubt to avoid fans and the press in a time of frustration. There was never any reason given as to why, but fans all over social media immediately had a pretty good guess (and so did I.)
After seeing his fellow teammate visibly livid, Many people believe that Mclyntyre too has a massive problem with CM Punk’s return. However, fan footage later revealed Mlcntyre leaving before CM Punk’s Cult of Personality hit. Triple H said during the Survivor Series press conference that few people knew about this surprise return until it actually happened. There is a slim chance that Drew was somehow let in on the secret when no one else was. However, assuming his issue had nothing to do with Punk, that must have been one hell of an encounter once McIntyre got back into Gaurilla, moments before Punk walked out into the arena.
Among Rollins and Mcintyre last night was Cody Rhodes, one of the only pro wrestlers other than Punk to go from WWE, to AEW, and back to WWE once more. However, There’s a bit of history that goes into how Punk’s return affects Cody’s status in AEW. In Rhodes’ WWE documentary on Peacock, The American Nightmare talked in depth regarding his experiences while in AEW, but said that he wouldn’t tell why he left the company. Obviously, this led many to speculate why. While the two didn’t have an on-screen segment together in the promotion, there was a six-month overlap between the two in which they were both working simultaneously.
Punk had beef with numerous members in the AEW locker room, Including the Elite and Jack Perry. However, nothing can be found regarding Cody Rhodes and Punk’s relationship directly. However, Punk’s track record certainly speaks for itself these days. Nothing has been reported so far regarding any kind of noticeable reaction to Punk’s return.
While Cody has had his fair share of run-ins behind the scenes, such as Rollins, Rhodes (and Rollins until last night) does quite an impressive job at being a professional, something Punk doesn’t seem to have mastered yet. It wouldn’t be a shock if Cody handled this situation the way that everyone else on the roster including Punk should, as a professional. On the flip side, a feud between the two seems like it’s just been waiting to happen.
Regardless of their standing. It’s important to remember that Rhodes is the heavy fan favorite going into the main event of Wrestlemania against Roman Reigns. With Punk suddenly in the mix, that could certainly throw a wrench in The American Nightmare’s plans. While it pains Cody that he didn’t win the big one last year, he’s been dying for a second shot since the Raw after Wrestlemania 39. Rhodes would not be thrilled if Punk walked in and took that main event spot against Reigns from him, and rightfully so.
The main event seat at Wrestlemania is a very competitive spot. For Punk to walk in and take it would be frustrating for Cody, but also taking a page out of Rhodes’ playbook from last year. Heading into Wrestlemania 39, Cody only wrestled a handful of matches before his big fight against Reigns.
Anytime a marquee Superstar makes his appearance in WWE, one of the first names that fans always name as an opponent is the head of the table, your Tribal Chief, Roman Reigns. Reigns’ title defense has put Punk’s 400+ day WWE title reign to shame, reaching 1000+ days as WWE Undisputed Universal Champion. However, Punk’s presence in WWE in 2012 and 2013 was instrumental to the upbringing of Roman Reigns. Reigns’ first main roster gig, forever to be cemented in the history books as the shield, was CM punk’s Idea.
Funny enough, Punk initially vouched for Chris Hero to lead the faction Instead of Reigns, but was rejected and swapped with Reigns as the leader before The Shield ever made it on TV. Instead, they acted as goons for Punk, protecting and aiding him along with Triple H and the Authority. Given their history and Punk’s resume, a championship match at a marquee PLE is almost a given, maybe even at Wrestlemania 40. Being the current face of the company, Reigns has also been one to act as a professional. I doubt much would change with Punk unless Reigns was provoked heavily in the first place, as most men would. Reigns went out of his way in an interview months ago to state that if it were good for the product, he would do a feud with Punk if he were to return regardless of his personal feelings.
Completely separate from the CM Punk scene, Gunther successfully defended his covenant Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship against The Miz last night. Gunther’s whole issue with Miz on-screen was that he believed Miz to be nothing more than an entertainer who could just get by in the pro wrestling ring. Gunther put an end to Miz’s attempt at gold and further solidified himself as one of the greatest Intercontinental Champions of all time, but is he the Best in The World?
The Ring General’s gimmick is founded on treating the ring as sacred ground and respecting it. Clearly, Gunther may have an issue with Punk’s prior choice of words inside the wrestling ring on numerous occasions, including his infamous Pipe Bomb after putting John Cena through a table on an episode of Monday Night Raw. If WWE were to keep CM Punk as an edgy babyface that he’s so amazing at being, then The Ring General would be a perfect heel to put in Punk’s face, a much better story than Roman Reigns as previously mentioned.
The major concern that everyone should have regarding CM Punk, given his undeniable history, is that he has a hard time being professional with superstars he doesn’t rub well with and often quits or makes a scene. Most fans know this, and from the looks of it, some of the talents do as well. Only time will tell If Punk will truly pull through for WWE.
Triple H mentioned during the Survivor Series press conference after the event that people who don’t change over a 10-year period have issues that are stunting their growth. Evidently, Punk doesn’t seem to have changed since leaving WWE in 2014, due to his abrupt termination in AEW last summer.
Not only that, but AEW CEO, Tony Kahn went on national television and told the world that CM Punk had caused a scene in which Kahn was afraid for his life, resulting in the termination of his contract. Surely, there were people at WWE or TKO who were aware that this incident had occurred so recently. If there’s any clear truth in all of this right now, it’s that Triple H was right in his Instagram Post. It sure is a mighty cold day in Hell.