CM Punk officially arrived in All Elite Wrestling on Friday night during AEW Rampage, opening the show with his trademark “Cult of Personality” entrance. Punk has not wrestled in an official capacity since leaving the WWE back in 2014. In the years that followed he was asked numerous times if his wrestling career was over, and while he never truly slammed the door shut it took him seven years to finally make the jump back into the business. During that time away he fought twice in the UFC, worked on several comic books and expanded his acting career with roles in Girl on the Third Floor, Rabid, Jakob’s Wife and Heels. Back in 2019 he briefly dipped his toe back into the wrestling world, signing with FOX Sports to become an analyst on the WWE Backstage program on FS1, though that show was shut down in mid-2020.
When asked about AEW following its 2019 launch, Punk said on numerous occasions that the promotion interested him. He told Renee Paquette on Oral Sessions late last year, “I think the landscape currently is much different than when I left. You can play the game where you’re like, ‘Oh, AEW was an option, would you have gone right after you left WWE?’ If you are going to play that game, there is no way they (WWE) would have handled it the way they handled it with suspending me for two months and nobody contacting me and the next thing I know, I got my release papers on my wedding day. That wouldn’t have happened if there was an AEW. Because then they probably would have approached me and been like, ‘Hey, your suspension is up. Ready to come back to work? Let’s work this out.’ Or handle it like any other sports organization would have handled [a] star pitcher f—ing going home. They’re not just going to let him leave the team, go to a rival organization.”
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) August 21, 2021
“What would it take? Oh gosh. Without wanting to insult anybody on either side of the fence, any WWE talent or AEW talent, it would take, above all, an interesting scenario,” he added. “A story that would be fun to tell and also just the stupidest amount of money. But, they can save themselves a lot of money if they present a fun storyline. Now, what that is, I don’t know. I’m a pretty picky guy, especially at this point. I think there are more interesting people on the AEW side of things for me to wrestle and that’s because I’ve never wrestled them before. Young Bucks, Kenny Omega.”
He also confirmed that he spoke with AEW president Tony Khan back when the company first launched, telling Sunday Night’s Main Event recently, “Yeah, I talked with Tony. My perspective on this, and I’ve said this to his face, I am a guy who has constantly heard, ‘Hey, I’ve got a money guy!’ or ‘Hey, I’ve got TV!’ at least one or twice a year for 15-20 years of my wrestling career… it always seems like somebody [says], ‘Oh, we’re going to start up and compete with Vince [McMahon].’ I always think that came from a bad spot, because I think if you start up a wrestling company, I think you should always focus on yourself. So I, more or less, took a wait-and-see approach. I wasn’t and I am not interested in pro wrestling in that respect.”