WWE is playing into CM Punk perceptions perfectly

CM Punk is out for number one, and number one only. At least that's what WWE is presenting so well on television with each appearance.
WWE Money in the Bank
WWE Money in the Bank / WWE/GettyImages

CM Punk made a surprise return to WWE at Survivor Series 2023. With mere minutes left, he stole the show and became one of the biggest talking points in wrestling that year. In that moment, he ignited a story with Seth Rollins and Drew McIntyre that no one expected would reach this point about eight months later. WWE is playing into the narrative about CM Punk as a performer and it is working perfectly.

When Punk’s music hit as Cody Rhodes, Jey Uso, Sami Zayn, Randy Orton, and Rollins celebrated, things quickly went left. Rollins went on a profanity-laced tirade and McIntyre stormed out of the arena. That was in November. July 2024 and Punk’s presence is still deeply annoying the two men who were the most upset at his surprise return.

What’s most interesting about this run for Punk is that WWE is doing a great job playing up his issues in All Elite Wrestling, without taking a dig at AEW. Instead, the focus has been on the underlying accusations of Punk going into business for himself in ways that continue to screw over other men on the roster. He’s done that on three separate occasions with McIntyre, and the latest infraction at Money in the Bank now puts him back at the top of Rollins’s hit list.

Punk’s actions are purely self-motivated and completely unnecessary. McIntyre injured him at the Royal Rumble and yes, he’s been celebrating that moment incessantly. Punk takes it upon himself to be the biggest thorn in McIntyre’s side, not letting that man get any momentum at all. Instead of recuperating and returning to exact revenge, Punk makes it his own personal joy to screw over McIntyre at the cost of anyone that gets in his way. All while the fans cheer. McIntyre’s already put hands on him once, and now he has more reason to do it even worse this time around. But when it happens, few will argue that Punk doesn’t deserve the consequences of his actions.

Punk has played the master antagonist for much of his career. Whether it was John Cena, The Rock, MJF, The Elite, or anyone else along the way. Punk does an excellent job finding a way to get under the skin of anyone who stands opposite of him. WWE is using that personality trait to its advantage as it positions Punk as one of the biggest stars in the company once again. The lead-up to Punk versus Rollins versus McIntyre is going to be an excellent showcase of storytelling. But do not be surprised when Punk gets what he deserves along the way.