CM Punk officially arrived in All Elite Wrestling on Friday night, kicking off AEW Rampage in front of a wild crowd inside Chicago’s United Center. But Friday was not the first time Punk had made history in his hometown of Chicago, as many fans see his WWE Championship victory over John Cena at the 2011 Money in the Bank pay-per-view as the pinnacle of his WWE career. Punk took part in a post-show media conference call following the show and was asked how his Rampage arrival compared to that match.
“This (Tonight) felt more organic,” Punk said. “Everything I ever did prior to being here felt like a fight, and it kind of squeezed the life out of some stuff. This was a joyful moment that was just like, it didn’t need to get over-produced. It didn’t need everybody’s input. It just needed a few select peoples’ input and just an understanding that it’s pro wrestling. We don’t need to slick it up and lacquer it and shine it up too much. It needed to be real. So to compare the two moments, this one did not feel like a job.”
Punk brought up his time with WWE both in his Rampage promo — “The most important thing I’m going to say, this is for everybody at home, this is for everybody who bought a ticket, this is for everybody in the back,” Punk said. “If at all through my journey my personal choices or decisions related to my life made you feel disappointed or let down, let me just say I understand. If you all try to understand that I was never going to get healthy physically, mentally, spiritually or emotionally staying in the same place that got me sick in the first place.”
“Timing is everything, it felt right,” he said on the call when asked why now felt like the right time for a return. “When I left Ring of Honor, I did not want to go but I felt I couldn’t stay. You can’t really explain that to people, it’s just something you live through. When I was sick, tired and hurt and I realized these people (WWE) wouldn’t care if I died today, there’d be another show tomorrow. And I knew I had to remove myself from the situation. I didn’t know how long it was going to take for me to heal, and then this came along. Credit to everybody involved in AEW, it reminded me of places where I used to work that I love, where it was more about the spirit of the thing. Instead of feeling like a house, it felt like a home.”