CM Punk made his dramatic return to WWE on Saturday night at the Survivor Series show in his hometown of Chicago in what will be considered one of the most shocking moments in recent wrestling history.
The outspoken Punk, real name Phil Brooks, was fired from All Elite Wrestling in September following a backstage altercation with Jack Perry at the All In show at Wembley Stadium.
It marked an explosive end to a tumultuous tenure for Punk in AEW, one that had started with such euphoria and promise in 2021 only for things to turn sour very, very quickly as personal grievances became public fights, tarnishing more than one person's reputation.
Punk hasn't worked for WWE since 2014 when he also fell out with the company over booking decisions and concerns for his health. His return on Saturday should mark a seismic shift in the wrestling landscape, as the sport's biggest company now has one of its biggest stars back under its umbrella.
However, the unrest that Punk created in AEW, where he was very vocal in his criticism of WWE, has some fans worried he might cause further issues in his new home. Several of WWE's top talents, like Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Drew McIntyre had voiced their dislike of Punk, with the latter two now appearing to use that animosity for storyline purposes.
Why does everyone hate CM Punk?
Let's cut right to the heart of the matter - everyone doesn't hate CM Punk. The genuine reaction his return got at the Allstate Arena and from fans at home speaks volumes as to how adored he is.
Punk's debut in AEW in the summer of 2021, regardless of what happened afterwards, is one of the most genuinely uplifting and cathartic moments in wrestling history. A cult hero returning to the industry that made him a star, after 8 years in the wilderness.
Only AEW's hardcore fans would have wanted to see the back of him following his comments and backstage brawl at All Out 2022 but it was obvious there was a desire to keep him in the company. Owner, Tony Khan, even added an extra show to the promotion with the sole purpose of giving Punk a platform away from those that he disagreed with.
That didn't work out for the Straight Edge Superstar whose, dare we say, flawed commitment to speaking his mind and attempting to spread unsolicited wisdom ultimately cost him his job in AEW. Part of those flaws is what makes Punk so appealing to many fans.
He is ultimately human and like all of us makes mistakes and is hypocritical but his passion and commitment to wrestling is what should shine through. Punk has and likely always will be one of the most fascinating individuals in all of professional wrestling.
Hardly the most skilled talent inside of the ring but a student nonetheless. Meanwhile, he is in a class of a select few wrestlers who as a creative force have the ability to stir real emotion into storylines and matches and evoke real emotions among fans, which is a skill seldom few wrestlers possess.
Whether he has completely burnt his bridges in AEW remains to be seen but he is a man famous for holding grudges. With all that in mind though he now finds himself as a top name in the biggest company in wrestling that is currently undergoing a lucrative boom period, unlike anything he would have experienced in his previous tenure with the federation.
Will CM Punk be a problem for WWE?
Punk's return to WWE immediately has some fans concerned that he will create similar issues and tensions to what he did when he was in AEW. Those concerns are perfectly legitimate given that the 45-year-old is unlikely to stop wearing his heart on his sleeve anytime soon.
However, WWE in its current state is a lot different from what he experienced before and a lot different to AEW. For starters, WWE creative is now run by Paul 'Triple H' Levesque, a man Punk previously had issues with, but now appears to have buried the hatchet with his new boss. Punk's previous gripes with WWE lay with Vince McMahon, who is no longer in a position of significant power following the merger with UFC under the TKO banner.
Punk will be kept on a short leash in WWE, something which Tony Khan couldn't do in AEW. Any sign of trouble from Punk in WWE will likely be dealt with quickly and if that isn't resolved, then firing shouldn't come as an expense to a company worth $7 billion.
Those aforementioned superstars who might be upset about Punk's arrival may have legitimate concerns about him either due to previous history or stories they have heard from elsewhere. This is professional wrestling though and one of the most unique aspects of this strange industry can be that real-life issues can often create the most compelling television.
Hating CM Punk for whatever reason, whether you are a fan or on the off chance a wrestler, is fine. He's a divisive individual who has people that either want to put him on a pedestal or cut him down to size but who is history doesn't have those? Even The Beatles and Lionel Messi have their detractors.
CM Punk in WWE in 2023 would hardly seem like an ideal fit, especially given the more mature type of wrestling and stories he was producing in AEW. The fruit will be in his labour and whether we get another Summer of Punk or another All Out press conference rant will be the most fascinating aspect of this run.
So love him or hate we can all agree that wrestling is far more interesting with CM Punk than without him.