MR. TITO STRIKES BACK – The Importance of CM Punk to the Pro Wrestling Industry (WWE or AEW Needs Him!)

Follow Mr. Tito on Twitter by going to the following link: @titowrestling

Back from the Retirement Home, it’s the Excellence in Column Writing that is exclusively here at LordsofPain.net. The BUZZ is the air regarding All Elite Wrestling (AEW)‘s Pay Per View event, All Out and the funny thing is, it’s not about any of the existing wrestlers or the matches. Seriously folks, All In is going to crown the FIRST EVER AEW World Heavyweight Champion and nobody is talking about that.

No, we’re talking about the potential of CM Punk joining AEW.

After all, All Out is:

(a) In Chicago
(b) On the same weekend where CM Punk shall appear on Starrcast with Conrad Thompson in Chicago.

Tony Khan and the EVPs of All Elite Wrestling speaks highly of CM Punk. If you just listened to Jim Ross‘s Grilling JR podcast this week, you’d hear Jim Ross give nothing but praise for CM Punk and it was sounding like someone either trying to invite Punk to join AEW or someone hyping up Punk’s potential appearance. Yet, at the end of Ross’s podcast today, he predicted that CM Punk won’t return to pro wrestling and might take up the FOX Sports talkshow instead (something that Ross revealed was an option for him, too).

We, as wrestling fans, WISH that CM Punk would join All Elite Wrestling. It has been 5 LONG years since we last saw Punk wrestling for a major promotion and that was at Royal Rumble 2014. On the RAW that followed, CM Punk met with Vince McMahon and Triple H to announce that he was quitting the WWE. Since then, we’ve had 1 especially long and great podcast (Colt Cabana) and a few other radio/podcast interviews since and besides the occasional jab at wrestling fans on Social Media, CM Punk has stayed away from Pro Wrestling. Punk tried his hand at Mix Martial Arts (MMA) by wrestling for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and went 0-2. Despite that, Punk’s heart seems to be set to remain in that world in some capacity.

BUT – The wrestling landscape has changed SIGNIFICANTLY during 2019. For one, the WWE is about to earn $400 Million+ per year on television deals in the United States compared to the annual rate of $150-200 Million per year received previously. WWE is about to debut NXT on the USA Network for a 2 hour show during Wednesdays. Meanwhile, AEW is about to debut their weekly 2 hour wrestling show on TNT during Wednesdays and they have financial backing by the Khan family’s billions.

CM Punk, make no mistake, is IN DEMAND as a talent. Both the WWE and AEW know full well that by adding CM Punk to their promotion, he tips the scales significantly. For one, the buzz factor of signing him… WWE return would be huge considering how poorly that it ended during early 2014. Meanwhile, joining AEW would create buzz for the new promotion to be an instant contender and adds Punk to a solid group of workers in Moxley, Cody, Omega, Jericho, Page, MJF, and others. EVEN IF CM Punk just returns as a Commissioner role, just hearing him cut promos again would be amazing. He was arguably one of the best talkers of all time.

For newer fans, maybe you don’t know of the legend of CM Punk and why he is considered one of the greatest talents of the last 15-20 years. Furthermore, many don’t know how unlikely his story was.

In my opinion, CM Punk was the closest thing to another “Stone Cold” Steve Austin that we’ll ever see. Why?

(a) Great in-ring talent.
(b) Great bumper.
(c) Unique look
(d) Unique swagger and confidence.
(e) Unique charisma to them that you cannot teach.
(f) Great talker
(g) Knows how to connect with his audience.
(h) Knows how to protect the business to cause disbelief with the fans.

That “Pipebomb” speech from 2011 that he made before his match with John Cena at Money in the Bank 2011 was potentially one of those game-changing moments… It was a defining character moment just like Steve Austin’s “Austin 3:16” speech after winning the 1996 King of the Ring. But the WWE foolishly didn’t realize it and they let petty backstage differences get in the way.

Jim Ross, today on his Grilling JR podcast, spoke how Triple H disliked Punk’s physique and consistently held that position for years. Ross said that Triple H thought his physique was “soft” and that Punk had a “big butt”. Seriously, Ross said that today! After CM Punk won the WWE title at Money in the Bank 2011, Vince McMahon held firmly onto his dream of getting a Latino WWE Champion over by ensuring Alberto Del Rio would be champion by SummerSlam 2011 and then Triple H got his shovel out and buried him later that year.

WWE tried to “course correct” on their mistake by making CM Punk become WWE Champion at Survivor Series 2011 but the damage had been done. This was very similar to World Championship Wrestling (WCW)‘s attempt to re-crown Sting as WCW Champion during WCW Superbrawl 1998 after the major damage was done at Starrcade 1997 with the botched “fast count” that simultaneously made Sting and Bret Hart look like idiots while keeping Hulk Hogan strong.

Many will suggest that CM Punk was WWE Champion from Survivor Series 2011 through Royal Rumble 2013… Isn’t that great? Do the Math… Count how many Pay Per Views and episodes of RAW that CM Punk headlined from November 2011 through January 2013…

Pro Wrestling is all about momentum and striking when the iron is hot. If you ever heat metal the point where it is bright orange, you know how intensely hot that metal is to be in that state. Throw cold water on it, however, and instantly, steam is created and the heat from that metal is significantly lessened. CM Punk should have ruled the wrestling world following that WWE Money in the Bank 2011 Pay Per View but the WWE had other ideas. They were too stubborn on wanting Alberto Del Rio to be WWE Champion during a Mexico tour while Triple H had petty differences. Recipe for disaster.

Punk’s story is very unlikely… He rose from the independent scene quickly (even had a brief TNA stint) and eventually found his way onto the Ring of Honor promotion. After getting a few last drops out of Raven at that promotion and doing great work with his former friend Colt Cabana, Punk found himself in a feud with Samoa Joe which would become legendary. They fought in a trilogy of matches which were some of the best matches that I’ve ever seen. Joe was in his prime and Punk very young yet very energetic and able to take insane bumps at the time. The two wrestlers had such an amazing trust inside the ring that you just can’t train or develop for years with many talents. Ring of Honor sells their 3 match trilogy as a DVD and I strongly recommend that for your collection.

During 2004, Jim Ross stepped back from his Talent Relations role and officially handed the job off to John Laurinaitis. Laurinaitis had a much different style than Ross and when he was unable to develop homegrown talent like Ross (as Jim Cornette put it, “Laurinaitis hired guys with 2 left feet!”), John began hiring as much independent talent as he could, often putting his sights on Ring of Honor talent to sign. Lucky for Punk, Laurinaitis was bad at his job and helped Punk get signed other than being someone reportedly on Jim Ross’s sights years earlier.

The cool thing was how CM Punk exited Ring of Honor. It was announced that he signed with the WWE during May 2005, CM Punk actually won the Ring of Honor Title from Austin Aries during June 2005 in a shock to many online at the time that I remember. After Punk won the title, he cut an amazing promo, one of which is mentioned the word “Pipebomb”, that disregarded the fans and Ring of Honor promotion. He threatened to take the ROH Title with him to the WWE and even shot an angle where he signed his “WWE Contract” on the ROH Title. For me, it was one of those glimpses at greatness before their big break in the WWE. For me, I saw many with “Stunning” Steve Austin in WCW and then when you saw Austin’s promo cutting in ECW, you knew that Austin was special. If you watch Punk here during June 2005 as ROH Champion just after he signs with the WWE, you can just see that he was special.

But then, CM Punk joins the WWE through September 2005 and he would endure 8+ years of ups and downs with that company. For most of the downs, it wasn’t his fault…

First of all, he doesn’t join the WWE immediately. He is sent to the Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) developmental territory. Now, this is NOT the same Ohio Valley Wrestling that greats like John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Shelton Benjamin, Randy Orton, and Batista attended. For one, Jim Ross no longer oversaw that developmental territory as an executive. John Laurinaitis was now in charge and ran things differently (or poorly from many wrestler criticisms of his style). Jim Cornette was no longer around as co-manager of the promotion, as Corny was in charge of Creative, character development, and promos while Danny Davis and other trainers focused on in-ring stuff. As you may know, Corny slapped the future Santino Marella after he laughing hysterically at the Boogeyman character on live television instead of selling fear of him as instructed.

Thus, CM Punk joined an Ohio Valley Wrestling promotion that was changing based on how the WWE managed the developmental territory and who was in charge of creative. It could have been chaos… Lucky for Punk, however, was that Paul Heyman was sent to Ohio Valley Wrestling to be Cornette’s replacement. Paul Heyman was relieved of his head writer duties on Smackdown during early 2004 and remained with the WWE as a “consultant”. Thus, he was available to join OVW as the lead creative guy once he finished up the ECW One Night Stand show. Perfect timing… As Jim Ross stated on the Grilling JR podcast, Heyman “smoothed out CM Punk’s edges” and began to push Punk based on his strengths while working on or covering up his weaknesses. Much like Heyman did with anyone on the ECW roster during the late 1990s and many talents on the Smackdown roster during 2002-2003.

And CM Punk needed that Paul Heyman relationship…

There were reports back then that WWE officials did not like CM Punk as a talent and he was up for consideration to be let go several times. As Ross confirmed on his podcast today and also from CM Punk’s DVD, it was Paul Heyman who went to bat for CM Punk repeatedly. Do you want to know why Punk proudly considers himself a “Paul Heyman Guy”? Heyman saw value in Punk’s character and ability that the WWE wasn’t willing to accept. In addition, Heyman took Punk under his wing to see how shows were produced and created. Those years with Paul Heyman really gave Punk a significant education that few wrestlers could get. Punk knew how to bump and work a match, but learning the production and creative side to better exploit your own intangible talents is a unique educational offering. Heyman usually kept the secrets of his creative side quiet to keep that separation between workers and booker in place. But Heyman took on Punk like a student or an apprentice.

That probably made many WWE officials jealous…

And then when you look at Punk’s talents combined with his look of tattoos all over his body and not pumping up his body with supplements… You weren’t going to find CM Punk’s name on any online pharmacy lists, for example. It created a Creative clash between CM Punk and WWE officials that continued until the end of his career.

CM Punk’s biggest problem, though, was Triple H.

For all of the praise that we give Triple H, as the NXT product is highly entertaining and special… He can be AWFUL when it comes to being a competitive wrestler. The thing with Triple H is that he’s family to the McMahons, thanks to his marriage to Stephanie McMahon. What does he have to prove? He has control of creative and whenever he needs to look strong, he can just write himself into anything. Yet, it was his ongoing dislike of CM Punk which needs to be a stain on Triple H’s legacy. HE BLEW IT, period. Ross confirming the hatred of CM Punk by Triple H today on Grilling JR confirmed what we always thought.

Think back about that rumor of CM Punk getting squashed by the Undertaker for the World Heavyweight Championship due to Punk reportedly smarting off to ‘Taker over wardrobe. As the story goes, CM Punk entered a WWE locker room in street clothes when Undertaker reportedly said something to Punk about his clothing. Punk reportedly smarted off to Undertaker and said “look at what John Cena is wearing”. Yet, if you listened to Jim Ross today on Grilling JR, Ross said that the Undertaker LIKED working with CM Punk… And who was the guy critical of CM Punk’s look? Triple H. I guarantee that the story isn’t that the Undertaker went to Vince McMahon about Punk’s wardrobe but it was Triple H badmouthing CM Punk behind the scenes. No doubt about it!

I will say this… I did NOT like the “Straight Edge Society”. Just seemed too odd of a faction and his anti-drug promos, particularly against Hardy, just didn’t fit well with the WWE product. What needs to be understood that more than half of the audience likes to get “lubricated” from time to time. As a fellow straight-edger, as I don’t drink or take any drugs whatsoever, I learned this the hardway. When I was a younger columnist writing Mr. Tito’s Phat Daily Column for LordsofPain.net, I was often calling upon the WWE to censor Godfather and Road Dogg’s constant drug references in their promos. Then, I’d have loyal readers email me and say “look, we like to get baked on occasion, it’s our choice”. Eventually, I eased up on it because (a) I can’t control what others do their body and (b) they could smoke or take worse drugs than pot.

Thus, when CM Punk rejoined the RAW roster during late 2010 and took over the Nexus, it was the beginning of his rebirth in the WWE. Gone was the “Straight Edge Society” stuff and HERE was the “Best in the World” stuff. Now, Punk just simply told wrestlers WHY he was better than them as a WRESTLER instead of talking down to them because of a lifestyle choice. Suddenly, his promo cutting skills meant a great deal more and connected with the audience more than ever. Then, he nails the famous “Pipebomb” speech on June 27th, 2011…

CM Punk‘s real life WWE contract was about to expire during July 2011… Thus, he was supposed to be just a throw-away match for John Cena at Money in the Bank 2011 heading into SummerSlam 2011. WWE wanted that show to feature Cena as WWE Champion losing to Alberto Del Rio. Vince McMahon reportedly adored Del Rio as a talent and had aspirations of taking him to Mexico as the WWE champion for a tour during the Fall of 2011. This plan was put in place at Wrestlemania, as Del Rio was abruptly switched to RAW to begin the push towards the WWE Title.

WWE’s Creative Team really didn’t care about this CM Punk vs. John Cena match at Money in the Bank 2011… Just a throwaway match that Cena appeared obvious to win.

So, when they had no creative ideas one night during late June 2011, they just let CM Punk have a live mic to say whatever was on top of his mind.

Think about this for a second… Since the mid-2000s and worsening when the WWE began the PG rated era, all wrestler promos were scripted by the WWE Creative Team and Vince McMahon. ZERO freedom on the microphone with a few exceptions. The WWE Corporation, now being influenced by many other corporations (Comcast, toy deals, video game deals, clothing deals, sponsors, etc), were afraid of what could be said on a live microphone. We were heading into an era where wrestlers had to make public statements following something deemed derogatory. For example, John Cena and Michael Cole both questioned the sexuality of those they were feuding with and had to immediately apologize online (though Rock would do the same thing later and not have to apologize).

John Cena and R-Truth, for whatever reason, were having a Tables Match on the June 27th, 2011 edition of Monday Night RAW. CM Punk caused a distraction to allow R-Truth to actually put Cena through the table. Afterward, CM Punk made his way to the rampway, with a microphone in hand, and cut one of the BEST promos of all time.

The best part? CM Punk was wearing a Stone Cold Steve Austin t-shirt on. Fitting, as this one of the best game-changing promos that the WWE had seen since “Austin 3:16”.

CREDIT Genius.com for Transcribing CM Punk’s promo from Monday Night RAW during June 27th, 2011:

—————————–

John Cena, while you lay there, hopefully as uncomfortable as you possibly can be, I want you to listen to me. I want you to digest this because before I leave in 3 weeks with your WWE Championship, I have a lot of things I want to get off my chest. I don’t hate you, John. I don’t even dislike you. I do like you. I like you a hell of a lot more than I like most people in the back. I hate this idea that you’re the best. Because you’re not. I’m the best. I’m the best in the world. There’s one thing you’re better at than I am and that’s kissing Vince McMahon’s ass. You’re as good as kissing Vince’s ass as Hulk Hogan was. I don’t know if you’re as good as Dwayne though. He’s a pretty good ass kisser. Always was and still is. Whoops! I’m breaking the fourth wall!

[Punk waves to the camera]

I am the best wrestler in the world. I’ve been the best ever since day one when I walked into this company. And I’ve been vilified and hated since that day, because Paul Heyman saw something in me that nobody else wanted to admit. That’s right, I’m a Paul Heyman guy. You know who else was a Paul Heyman guy? Brock Lesnar. And he split just like I’m splitting. But the biggest difference between me and Brock is I’m going to leave with the WWE Championship.

I’ve grabbed so many of Vincent K. McMahon’s brass rings that it’s finally dawned on me that they’re just that, they’re completely imaginary. The only thing that’s real is me and the fact that day in and day out, for almost six years, I have proved to everybody in the world that I am the best on this microphone, in that ring, even in commentary! Nobody can touch me!

And yet no matter how many times I prove it, I’m not on your lovely little collector cups. I’m not on the cover of the program. I’m barely promoted. I don’t get to be in movies. I’m certainly not on any crappy show on the USA Network. I’m not on the poster of WrestleMania. I’m not on the signature that’s produced at the start of the show. I’m not on Conan O’Brian. I’m not on Jimmy Fallon. But the fact of the matter is, I should be. And trust me, this isn’t sour grapes. But the fact that Dwayne is in the main event at WrestleMania next year and I’m not makes me sick!

Oh hey, let me get something straight. Those of you who are cheering me right now, you are just as big a part of me leaving as anything else. Because you’re the ones who are sipping on those collector cups right now. You’re the ones that buy those programs that my face isn’t on the cover of. And then at five in the morning at the airport, you try to shove it in my face so you can get an autograph and try to sell it on eBay because you’re too lazy to go get a real job.
I’m leaving with the WWE Championship on July 17th. And hell, who knows, maybe I’ll go defend it in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Maybe…I’ll go back to Ring of Honor.

[Punk looks at the camera and waves]

Hey, Colt Cabana, how you doing?

The reason I’m leaving is you people. Because after I’m gone, you’re still going to pour money into this company. I’m just a spoke on the wheel. The wheel is going to keep turning and I understand that. Vince McMahon is going to make money despite himself. He’s a millionaire who should be a billionaire. You know why he’s not a billionaire? Because he surrounds himself with glad-handed, nonsensical, douchebag (censored) yes men, like John Laurinaitis, who’s going to tell him everything he wants to hear, and I’d like to think that maybe this company will be better after Vince McMahon is dead. But the fact is, it’s going to be taken over by his idiotic daughter and his doofus son-in-law and the rest of his stupid family.

Let me tell you a personal story about Vince McMahon, alright? We do this whole [anti] bully campaign…

[Microphone cuts off]

I’ve been silenced!

—————————–

This promo changed everything… The video of this speech was going viral heavily on YouTube and other outlets. It became watercooler talk among older wrestling fans and even several sports media outlets picked up on it.

CM Punk went from being a pending Free Agent to the WWE doing everything in their power to (a) re-sign him and (b) make him WWE Champion immediately.

On July 17th, 2011, the WWE made good with CM Punk at the WWE Money in the Bank 2011 Pay Per View. With the show being in Chicago, Punk’s hometown, the crowd was intense and held up signs that said “Punk Wins or We Riot”. Not to worry, as the WWE offered Punk a brand new 3 year contract that gave him a substantial pay raise and then they changed creative plans to reward him the WWE Title. The match was mostly a clean win, as WWE Officials tried to storm the ring and that distraction of John Cena’s choosing caused him to fall victim of the Go To Sleep (GTS) finisher. CM Punk was champion and the Chicago fans went bananas. After Punk won the title, he escaped through the crowd to a very upset Vince McMahon.

It felt like something we saw from the famous Austin vs. McMahon feud from 1998…

And it could have been great. Punk could have traveled with the WWE Title as he said he would. Try to “defend it” at Ring of Honor, New Japan, or other promotions. WWE and CM Punk could have completely worked fans…

But that’s not what happened.

Immediately, the WWE created a Tournament to decide the “new” WWE Champion on RAW. They created a replica title and Rey Mysterio Jr. actually won the tournament but actually had to wrestle John Cena later in the show as a title defense. Cena beat Mysterio for the Title and afterward, “Cult of Personality” hits the speakers and CM Punk comes out to staredown the “new” WWE Champion. Uh oh, there’s a title controversy.

And it all went downhill after that.

SummerSlam 2011 was going to be WWE Title vs. WWE Title between John Cena and CM Punk… WWE could have redeemed itself after that phony WWE Title tournament on RAW if they just had CM Punk defeat him cleanly, once again.

Oh no, the WWE had other ideas.

Remember, Vince McMahon had etched in stone that Alberto Del Rio would win the WWE Title by SummerSlam and then be WWE Champion for the Fall 2011 tour of Mexico. That plan was NOT to be changed. And won wins the Money in the Bank 2011 briefcase in the Ladder Match? Of course, Alberto Del Rio.

If you were a fan back then and read the “dirt sheets” that repeatedly said that Vince McMahon LOVES him some Alberto Del Rio, you knew what was coming next. But how that would happen was the debate of the time.

And then Triple H inserted himself into the match as “Special Guest Referee”.

I just KNEW that CM Punk was doomed… I could see it with body language during any of their promos together that Triple H hated CM Punk and the respect probably wasn’t returned the other way either.

CM Punk would end up defeating John Cena but in controversial fashion thanks to Triple H’s refereeing job. But then, Kevin Nash just randomly appears and attacks CM Punk. And of course, on cue, Alberto Del Rio walks down to cash his Money in the Bank briefcase to easily defeat CM Punk to become WWE Champion.

Now, this could have been FINE had CM Punk simply obtained revenge over Kevin Nash and then the mastermind behind the plan, Triple H. WWE had so many opportunities to reheat the CM Punk momentum…

So what did they do?

Well, the CM Punk vs. Kevin Nash match COULDN’T HAPPEN because Kevin Nash wasn’t medically cleared to wrestle. Mind you, Kevin Nash would wrestle Triple H in a dangerous hardcore match several months later… With Nash being unable to perform, Punk couldn’t get revenge on Kevin Nash’s unscripted “Waffle House Cook” comment.

OK, FINE… Let’s go straight to Triple H vs. CM Punk. Now of course, the promos heading into WWE Night of Champions 2011 saw the same variety of problems that Punk just endured with Kevin Nash. Punk has to deliver scripted lines while Triple H is not only writing for himself, but being able to go unscripted as well. It made for some very awkward one-sided promos that made Triple H appear strong and Punk look foolish.

But hey, CM Punk could just win that Night of Champions 2011 match against Triple H, right?

Wrong… He lost it, of course. Completely overbooked match to make Punk look foolish again.

At the very next Pay Per View, Hell in a Cell 2011, it was John Cena heading into a Triple Threat match as WWE Champion against Alberto Del Rio and CM Punk. Del Rio became champion again and guess who he pinned in that match to become champion. Certainly NOT the Champion, John Cena. Punk ate the pin on that match.

How about the very next Pay Per View? Vengeance 2011 saw CM Punk actually tagging up with Triple H to take on the team of Miz and R-Truth. You know, the guy that Punk was feuding with just 2 Pay Per Views ago… Punk/Triple H actually lost that match with CM Punk eating the pin in that match.

See the pattern yet?

When viewership and houses weren’t quite thrilled with Alberto Del Rio during the Fall of 2011 (even the Mexico tour, much like India wasn’t thrilled with Jinder Mahal during 2017)… WWE tried to course-correct by having CM Punk defeat Alberto Del Rio for the WWE Title at Survivor Series 2011.

But the damage was done. Just like WCW tried to course-correct by awarding Sting the WCW Championship at Superbrawl 1998 following Starrcade 1997, the WWE tried to salvage what they had wrecked. It’s very likely that merchandise sales numbers were arriving late following the 3rd quarter and Punk’s shirts were selling well with adult fans. That or Del Rio was finally realized as a failure as champion. Take your pick, but CM Punk was now damaged goods. Too many months of cold water was dumped on the hot iron forged during July 2011. WWE had their “next Stone Cold” and they blew it.

The November 2011 to January 2013 WWE Title run was a JOKE. CM Punk was barely allowed to headline Pay Per Views or RAW shows. How can you even remotely blame CM Punk for poorly drawing as WWE Champion when you didn’t let him headline anything? WWE also turned him heel abruptly during the midway point of his title reign. Granted, it put him back in the good graces of Paul Heyman as his manager, but it was a ridiculous creative decision none-the-less.

I personally liked CM Punk‘s 2013… Granted, he lost to the Rock twice, John Cena, Kane, Undertaker, and Brock Lesnar… But his Wrestlemania 29 match versus the Undertaker was 5 stars, as was his SummerSlam 2013 match against Brock Lesnar. Both feuds were AMAZING, as Punk/Heyman played mind-games with the Undertaker’s head regarding the recent passing of Paul Bearer while the Paul Heyman turn on CM Punk before the Brock Lesnar feud was epic. To date, CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar remains my favorite Lesnar match of all time. Nobody pushed Lesnar to look that great in the WWE, period. I’d say that it’s the best Undertaker match, too, but those Shawn Michaels matches were ridiculous. For much of 2013, Punk worked injured as he came back early from a recovery and took more stupidity from Ryback as well.

Punk became jobber to the stars and when he saw the writing on the wall for 2014, notably the WWE’s wishes to bring back and push Batista and the desired pushing of Roman Reigns as the “next guy”, he bolted. I believe that CM Punk being required to lose to Roman Reigns on RAW during January 2014 was the last straw and Batista returning for Royal Rumble put Punk over the edge. He was done. Punk was tapped out.

WWE destroyed this unique talent that was ready to take off during July 2011. He had his “Austin 3:16” moment and the WWE should have completely changed their plans to push their newly arrived megastar to the moon.

But they didn’t. Triple H never liked him, which likely made his wife and then-creative team leader Stephanie McMahon dislike him as well. Michael PS Hayes has gone on record, several times, to suggest that CM Punk should have never been World Champion. Furthermore, because Paul Heyman liked Punk, that made him public enemy #1 backstage. WWE officials hated Paul Heyman back then and actively tried to scrub Heyman’s influence from everything.

The WWE Corporate structure took a guy in CM Punk who LOVED to wrestle and entertain the fans and converted him into a bitter individual about the business. Go watch those Ring of Honor matches and see the pure JOY that CM Punk has on his face. During the good times of the WWE, look at how excited Punk is for his matches and promos. Look at how much heart and soul that he put into that Undertaker fued for Wrestlemania 29 during 2013. Not just the “Pipebomb” promo from June 2011, but watch the Contract Signing segment that CM Punk did with Vince McMahon just before Money in the Bank 2011. He THRASHES Vince McMahon in that segment and Vince just takes it like a man.

Vince McMahon should have SCOLDED Triple H for the way he acted with his body language and attacking CM Punk with unscripted promos during the SummerSlam hype and then the Night of Champions hype. When Triple H is in that ring, he’s a WWE performer who has to do right for the WWE. Instead, Vince enabled Triple H to break out the shovel and bury CM Punk. What, because he’s not jacked up like you? Sorry if he’s not willing to put stuff in his body to get that vein popping physique.

WWE ruined CM Punk who should have been an asset to pro wrestling. 8 years later, we should all be looking back on an amazing career that CM Punk had or could still be having as a Main Event draw. Then, we could have debates as to where CM Punk fits in the all-time great top 10 list. WWE television contracts could be much bigger because they had their “next Stone Cold”.

But nooooooooooooo, Triple H had to be petty and ruin a great thing.

I seriously hope that CM Punk joins All Elite Wrestling (AEW) just to STICK IT to the WWE for what they did to him during August 2011 through January 2014. Remember, the WWE delivered the termination papers purposely on Punk’s real life wedding day to AJ Lee. Who does that? And it’s unlikely that the WWE would just stick that notice in a regular envelope for the Post Office to deliver. It was likely sent by FedEx and scheduled. They denied him back royalties following that termination, too, which Punk had to later fight legally for. Then, the WWE backed their own doctor to sue CM Punk which caused Punk and his then-friend Colt Cabana to incur major legal fees. To this day, Punk and Cabana are not on speaking terms due to that lawsuit and a so-called promise made by Punk to pay for Cabana’s fees.

STICK IT TO THEM, CM Punk!

Even if it’s just a speaking role or something like a Commissioner. We just need you on a live microphone without the WWE filters holding you back. Speak from the heart.

If you somehow re-sign with the WWE, make sure that it’s for Lesnar-money and for Lesnar-dates. WWE can afford it with their $400 Million+ per year television contracts and by being a publicly traded company. When CM Punk left the WWE, the stock’s price was well below $15 per share. Right now? Hovering around $73 per share.

Yo Tony Khan… Your family has billions. PAY CM PUNK!

Remember the past… WCW Nitro was a brand new show during 1995 that nobody thought would make a serious impact. Then, Lex Luger just appears out of no where at the end of the show when everybody thought he was still in WWE. GONE was his ridiculous “All American” gimmick and back was the Lex Luger that many longtime fans loved in WCW who could easily work heel or face whenever it was needed. Luger ended up being a key superstar in WCW’s boom period and had a fantastic 1995-1997 portion of his career. Luger defeating Hulk Hogan on an August 1997 Nitro remains one of my most favorite wrestling moments of all time.

Though I’d love to see CM Punk at AEW’s All Out, the better case scenario is to have him appear at the very end of the new TNT Show.

Many might question how effective CM Punk could be after having over FIVE YEARS OFF… But, his in-ring injuries have healed up and he’s probably in great physical shape from the MMA training. Many might suggest that the UFC losses hurt him, but that’s UFC. The majority of pro wrestlers, besides Brock Lesnar, would struggle in MMA fights too. Most fans agree with CM Punk’s departure based on how creative was screwing with him during 2011-2014.

CM Punk is 40 years old, going on 41. In pro wrestling years, that’s LATE prime… He has a solid 5-6 years left in him before the body completely goes South. THAT SAID, Punk took 5 years off. He doesn’t have the mileage as others his age. Many wrestlers are pushing 50 years of age these days, too, so we could enjoy Punk for longer than we think. Then again, he won’t take anything to enhance his prospects for staying physically active longer.

And bring along AJ Lee. She was screwed by the WWE too. She was a unique talent who could actually cut a promo. Have you heard any of the current Women’s wrestlers speak? Yikes… I LOVED how she burned Stephanie McMahon with that equal pay Tweet. Who else would have the courage to challenge Stephanie like that? And her promo on the Bella Twins… “Talent is not a STD”.

If CM Punk joins AEW, that shall challenge my television viewing habits. I’ll have to find a way to watch TNT again and AEW Pay Per Views will have to be bought. If he returns to the WWE and they make nice with him, USA Network and FOX just received more bang for their buck.

It’s all up to him… CM Punk could CHANGE the wrestling business based on where he seeks employment. Both WWE and AEW would love to have him and would overpay to get him.

THAT’S what competition in the wrestling business does. It delivers more paydays to wrestlers and extends the life of many great superstars. If WCW wasn’t viable during 1994, Macho Man Randy Savage would have remained in a WWE announcer’s booth. Instead, we got 5 more years of the Madness to enjoy. We got to see the return of Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig! Hulk Hogan had second life in WCW. Kevin Nash and Scott Hall had a place to make serious money after both hit a plateau in the WWE. Look at all of the other former WWE stars that took WCW money and thrived late into their careers.

The business climate is PERFECT for CM Punk to return to Pro Wrestling… The question is if he wants to use legitimate leverage to return or not.

I pray that he returns. I will burn my Retirement Home to the ground and write often if he returns.

Wrestling NEEDS CM Punk. Period. He was the “next Stone Cold” but the WWE sucked the joy out of him to deny that honor.

FINGER OF SHAME to you, WWE.

So just chill… Until the next episode!

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WWE Royal Rumble: SDH-JC2-HFG
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