Okay, Let’s Talk About CM Punk
There's no way around it at this point, I suppose.
It was announced that CM Punk would be taking part in Starrcast III. Starrcast, for those who don’t know, is basically a touring wrestling fan convention. While not officially affiliated with any particular promotion, it has a, let’s say, friendly relationship with the higher ups at AEW. There’s no disputing that much, considering that the first event took place right near All In that same weekend, the second at Double Or Nothing and the third back here in Chicago for All Out. In lieu of having their own Axxess style show, ala WWE’s major events, Starrcast basically fills that void for AEW.
By no means does attaching your name to Starrcast associate you in any real way with All Elite Wrestling.
In fact, people under contract with WWE have atleast tried to make these events, with a few actually appearing. But it certainly puts you AEW adjacent, quite literally as they tend to set these up down the street from the venues. The entire premise is to allow fans who were already in the area to see AEW’s shows come in and meet a ton of big wrestling names and partake in panels and the like.
You can perhaps compare this to the annual phenomena of indy shows taking place around WrestleMania to get that same effect. But WWE doesn’t actually go out of their way to support those events and send their wrestlers to their shows. So the association is a tad different.
Basically, going to Starrcast is a great way to get people speculating that you’ll be in AEW, regardless of how many times they yell at you that they aren’t affiliated. The association even got Booker T, by his own admission, to refuse to go to the event due to his loyalty to WWE. One can only presume that the likes of Kurt Angle and the Undertaker have dropped out of these events for similar reasons.
Now, CM Punk is of course a lightning rod figure, and has remained so even years after his departure from wrestling. Any time he so much as makes a passing mention to wrestling on twitter, it’s a news story. His name is brought up in speculated returns constantly, especially when major events take place in Chicago. People like to think he might come back any time a WWE PPV occurs in his hometown, which is often, and of course it never happens. Many were thinking about it in the lead-up to All In last year, and of course it never happened.
And now All Out is coming to Chicago and of course, the talk occurs again.
AEW quietly pushed this along a bit by using the stars of Chicago’s flag on All Out posters. While hardly a direct statement of any kind, the reason wrestling fans recognize those stars at all is because of Punk. He made it perhaps the most famous town flag in the nation through constant use on his tights and merchandise. And now… yeah, CM Punk is finally a part of Starrcast.
I’m never going to tell people not to get excited or let themselves get carried away by thoughts like this. You truly never know what can happen in wrestling. But personally speaking…
I don’t expect Punk to ever make a genuine return to wrestling.
I’d love to be wrong, because I do miss him. He’s a great talent, an awesome promo, and like him or not, he’s strong in his convictions. And he’d be a wildly huge get for AEW, no questions about that. The thought of him making a shock appearance at All Out, a little over a month out from the TNT debut… it can’t be overstated what that could do for the company. They don’t need him to succeed, but it sure wouldn’t hurt.
But after all this time, and after everything he’s said, and after how much he seemed to be hurt by the wrestling world (read: mostly WWE, but still) it’s always seemed like he’s tried very hard to just move on. Not once have I ever gotten the impression that he even considers himself a fan of wrestling any more. Nevermind someone that ever gets the itch to come back that so many others get.
Yes, everyone comes back eventually… but CM Punk isn’t everyone. He’s a little bit different, always has been. That rule really doesn’t apply. And after all this time, it’s hard for me to take speculation on this too seriously.
But I am thinking about it again, for the first time in who knows how long. I’m thinking about it for one very simple reason…
If CM Punk ever comes back, it will definitely be with AEW.
That one feels fair enough to say. I can’t imagine he’d ever want to go back to WWE in any capacity, but AEW? I’d guess he’s atleast had a passing thought about it.
It’s where he’d have by far the biggest impact, by a wide margin in my view. It’d be an amazing way to strike back at WWE. To make them regret everything that’s happened between the two parties over the last several years. And more importantly, to help build up a true alternative. An alternative that seeks to do that which WWE refuses to, to treat their talent better. It’d be a place where he’d have significantly more creative freedom and a much lighter schedule. Even if he worked every show for them – which is hugely unlikely – he’d still have a much easier workload than he used to have. It’d be a place with basically nothing but exciting, fresh dream matches and feuds for him.
And judging by what we’ve seen thus far, he’d be returning in front of a genuinely supportive and grateful audience. By all means, it’d be magnificent.
Again, I’ll never expect it, if it happens I’ll just let myself be surprised by it. But if it does happen, it will happen in AEW. And if it’d ever happen in AEW… there would never be a better place for it than All Out.