CM Punk's eventful run in AEW appears to be heading toward a dramatic conclusion. The Straightedge Superstar has been suspended from the company after his infamous backstage brawl with The Elite following All Out.
While Punk is serving out his suspension and recovering from an injury, speculations regarding his AEW contract status remain rampant. In the most recent edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer gave an update on the situation:
"Those with close knowledge of the situation said they are in talks with Punk about a buy-out of the remaining years of his contract which tells you that they are not looking to bring him back. The hold-up right now is said to be the non-compete period."
"Obviously, if the non-compete is an issue, it’s about interest in going to WWE because there’s no need for a non-compete otherwise because nobody else but AEW and WWE can pay him close to what he was making."
While rumors of a contract buyout could possibly come to fruition, would the 43-year former AEW World Champion seriously consider an offer to return to WWE?
Never say never in pro wrestling. As Punk helped elevate many AEW stars with the likes of Darby Allin, Eddie Kingston, and MJF, he could also boost the unrecognized talent on the WWE roster.
Here are 5 ways CM Punk can make a blockbuster return to WWE:
#5. CM Punk can win the Royal Rumble as a surprise 30th entrant
The last time CM Punk wrestled in WWE was at the 2014 Royal Rumble. Therefore, it would be highly fitting if he were to make his dramatic return to the company 9 years later at the very same event.
Punk recently underwent surgery which he suffered during his AEW Championship match against Moxley at All Out. The timetable for his recovery could be anything from six to eight months, so to debut in time for next year's Royal Rumble would require an immense recovery process.
However, the former AEW World Champion has been spotted out and about in his hometown of Chicago sporting a brace on his left arm, so if he is able to accelerate his rehab process, he could easily return as a surprise 30th entrant at the January Premium Live Event.
Given the nature of the bout, Punk doesn't even have to get overly physical to win the match. It would mark a dramatic return for the Straightedge Superstar to WWE and mark a hot start towards next year's Road To WrestleMania.
#4. CM Punk can enter into a feud with Seth Rollins
In many ways, Seth Rollins feels like a natural successor to CM Punk in WWE. When Punk was in the midst of a historic 434-day reign as WWE Champion back in 2012, Rollins became the first ever NXT Champion. Both men made their names on the independent scene and were former ROH World Champions.
In fact, when Rollins debuted on the WWE main roster as part of The Shield, he was recommended by Punk himself to be part of the storyline.
In the time since Punk left the company, Seth Rollins has carved a Hall of Fame-worthy career as a former Universal Champion and Grand Slam Champion. He is no longer a newcomer but can stand toe-to-toe with Punk as his equal.
Rollins has also garnered a reputation for being one of the best in-ring workers in the company and is able to put over talent without diminishing his own aura. Just take a look at his rivalry with another former AEW wrestler, Cody Rhodes, as evidence. The Visionary would make a great first opponent back for CM Punk.
#3. CM Punk can challenge Roman Reigns for the Universal WWE Title
As a former WWE and AEW World Champion, CM Punk could easily slot in back into the main event scene of the company. This would put him in direct conflict with the current undisputed WWE Universal Champion, Roman Reigns.
During an interview with Complex late last year, The Tribal Chief made some remarkable comments about CM Punk's career and how he's at a physical advantage over the 43-year-old veteran:
"He got whooped in the UFC. I don’t think anybody really believes someone 200 pounds soaking wet with no explosive bone in their body could ever really do anything to me. I’m 6’3”, 265 pounds, a legitimate athlete who can throw some weight around. When it comes down to it, I’ll throw him and pretty much the rest of that roster out the club no problem. They’re just little brothers, you know?" (H/T: Complex)
Those dismissive comments would be enough to light a fire under Punk and set the tone for a hot rivalry between the two wrestlers. With Roman's much-improved mic skills, he would also be an excellent foil for Punk during promos. The hype for a showdown between the two would be immense.
#2. CM Punk can have a one-off WrestleMania dream match with John Cena
CM Punk's greatest rival in WWE is undoubtedly, John Cena. Their battles over the WWE Championship dominated the main event scene of the early 2010s, which includes the legendary WWE Championship Match at Money In The Bank 2011.
Despite their numerous matches and pay-per-view main events, CM Punk vs. John Cena has never headlined a WrestleMania, which is a shame. Now that both wrestlers are a decade older, a mania match-up between them would make for a great nostalgia-filled addition to the card.
#1. CM Punk can work and put over younger talent in WWE
While CM Punk's AEW run might go down in notoriety, let's not forget that he did an incredible job of putting over the company's young talents. From the likes of MJF and Darby Allin to Powerhouse Hobbs, these wrestlers came out the better from working with Punk.
If Cm Punk were to return to WWE then he would return as a veteran at this point in his career. As a household name in pro wrestling, he can help put over young talents within the WWE roster who are looking for an opportunity to make an impression. Imagine the banger matches he could have with another fellow Chicago native in Mustafa Ali or Austin Theory, someone who models himself after a young John Cena.
He could even reform a modern version of the Straightedge Society, this time as a mouthpiece for newer talents just like what Edge did with The Judgment Day. CM Punk doesn't have to be challenging for World Titles. He could easily settle into a role as an elder statesman in the locker room and help highlight the next generation of WWE Superstars before he eventually goes into the WWE Hall of Fame.
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