THE RANT: CM Punk in AEW? Would It Still Change the Balance of Power?

Posted By James Walsh on 12/18/20

Recently, CM Punk appeared on Renee "Young" Paquette's podcast and was asked about returning to the ring. In thst interview, Punk told his former WWE Backstage co-host (more on that later) that it wouldn't matter as much about the money but would simply have to be something he'd be interested in doing. This has caused many, including fans and wrestling insiders alike, to theorize that he was eluding to possibly returning to join AEW and help Tony Khan's "balance of power" statement become a reality.

But, in 2021 (as we're almost there), would CM Punk have that much of an impact on the business?

My answer may surprise you. Because, my answer is an emphatic "NO!"

If you're still reading, allow me to explain.

When CM Punk left WWE in 2015, he was red hot. He had a good run at the top with various gimmicks for 6 or so years. From a cult leader to a rogue "pipe-bomb" dropping rebel and ultimately coming out the other side of it all as an understood leading man in the soap opera of wrestling. By the time he left, he was reaching "I'm a main eventer.... Because I am!" status that mostly only legends achieve.

Then, he left.

In leaving, CM Punk threw snowballs of shit in the faces of everyone who he felt wronged him along the way. One even sued him! But, he griped at Triple H, Vince McMahon, the company doctor, and beyond. The true to life pipe bomb interview that aired on Colt Cabana's podcast was a pep talk to non-WWE fans feeling there was a change coming. And, there could have been.... In 2015. Not now. Or, at least, not with CM Punk at the wheel of said change.

After that epic promo where CM Punk became the hottest free agent when Impact was in retrograde as Dixie Carter was getting set to sell off the brand and ROH was building off the decline of Impact getting put on Destination America, a station that has and continues to feature mostly rednecks chasing ghosts, either just before Impact Wrestling aired on their network on Wednesday nights.

They say "timing is everything." And, they're right. Had Tony Khan and All Elite Wrestling been around in 2015, they would have likely been able to coax an angry former WWE employee to jump and, at that point, he was a guy the fan base still believed in.

I don't think that belief in CM Punk is as strong as it was 5 or more years ago.

Why? Because decisions were made that hindered his believability.

First, CM Punk entered MMA while wrestlers, honest wrestlers, screamed from the roof tops that the concept of a man who has never won a backstage shoot fight getting involved in MMA would not end well. The result was he lost to a moderate fighter in just over 2 minutes, cried in the post match interview, and the wrestling community rushed to social media to support a man who just made wrestling and wrestlers look week on what was a red hot stage.

And a year or so later, he fought a no name fighter that I could take with one arm tied behind my back and looked like he had not eaten in 6 months and had done no cardio leading in.

Oh, and that second fight happened days after he threw his best friend for decades under the bus and didn't help him financially in the WWE legal battles over what Punk himself said on Colt Cabana, his friend's, podcast. So, if you were paying attention, in 2 or 3 years after Punk left WWE he disgraced wrestling by being an 0 and 2 MMA fighter, turned his back on his friend, and then really f***ed up in 2019.

When AEW was announced. The family that owns the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL Franchise is throwing their hat, and sizable pocket book, into professional wrestling. Despite being proven to be about as physically intimidating as an angry chipmunk, the wrestling world all seemed to want CM Punk to sign with the new promotion and be one of their top stars. The show was being run in Chicago, Punk's home town, to kick off the promotion just ahead of their debut on TNT in October. CM Punk was at the weekend's events because he did a PPV shoot interview at Starcast. Could it be that the man who left WWE willingly and threw shade on them on his way out was going to do what would hurt WWE most and appear for a high dollar opponewnt and give them instant credibility?


Instead, CM Punk announced he had signed with FOX to be a host of a WWE talk show on TV called WWE Backstage. "I'm not back with WWE, I'm working for FOX talking about WWE."

Do you not hear the semantics of a man who couldn't fight his way out of a wet paper bag in that statement or action?

WWE tried to ruin the man's wedding day serving him with legal papers just hours before saying "I do" to AJ Lee and dragged him through the mud on and off TV for years. And, he's crawled back to do a talk show about that brand? And, dares deny that is what he did using semantics. "But my pay check comes from FOX, not WWE for my work on the WWE TV show." Holy balls!

I know wrestling fans are forgiving. And, they probably all forgive, to a certain level, Punk for being a disgrace in MMA. They probably also forgive him crawling back to the apron strings of WWE for WWE Backstage. But, forgiving isn't forgetting.

If the chords of Colt of Personality were to chime on AEW Dynamite live from Chicago one day in 2021, would the crowd pop? I think so. Would CM Punk immediately be a top star in AEW? I think so. But, would it have anywhere near the long term impact it would have had if he joined without doing the things I mentioned above? No, it wouldn't.

Don't get me wrong! I believe a star like CM Punk that came in willing to wrestle would move the needle a little bit especially at first. But, it now would be 6 years since his big WWE run ended and that was, more or less, the length of his top level push in WWE. Him being who he is has devalued him because who he is, ultimately, is a bad fighter who talked a big game and then showed he didn't have the guts to back up his mouth. Because he didn't do it when it would have mattered most, he is somewhat devalued. It is sad but true. He could have changed the world in 2019. He didn't. He did a C level WWE show that had viewership as low as 20,000 some weeks. Streaming services? Nah, it just was a bad show.

In closing, should AEW sign CM Punk? If and only if they believe his bi-polar (I'm not a doctor but I do know birds of a feather flock together and his actions demonstrate a herky jerky emotional response) behavior and potential to quit at the drop of a hat is worth changing the creative direction of the company for. It would be a gamble if Booger from Revenge of the Nerds would pull a Cartman from South Park again, as he did in WWE, and say "Screw you guys, I'm going home" without fair warning leaving the company to patch the hole left by his departure. And, I believe it would be likely that it would end in him walking out. His behavior is unstable. And, bi0polar disorder is very difficult to cope with. One moment, he could be a model employee. The next, he's a headache. I guess the fact he's such a poor shoot fighter means he wouldn't be able to cause any physical harm to anyone. Just reputation should he beat AEW's current top stars early on and just take his ball and go home when the sky is the wrong shade of blue one evening.

Proceed with caution, AEW. He may not ultimately be worth it.