CM Punk has revealed that he spoke with WWE ahead of signing with AEW.
For many years following his departure from WWE in 2014, CM Punk was adamant that he wouldn’t be seen in professional wrestling again. While his stance on a return appeared to soften slightly, as recently as December 2020 Punk said that it would take a fun story and the “stupidest amount of money” for him to even consider a comeback.
Fast forward to September 2021 and CM Punk is not only back in professional wrestling but only days away from his first in-ring action in more than seven years.
However, as a new report from ESPN explains, Punk’s return to the squared circle was a long time in the making. The report notes that the Chicago native first met with AEW President Tony Khan on December 26th 2018, before AEW had even held their first event. While talks were infrequent and Punk appeared on WWE Backstage in late 2019, Khan remained confident that he would get the man he described as “one of the biggest stars in all of wrestling.”
In the report, Punk himself reveals that WWE reached out to him about a return to the company. Not that he was impressed with how the talks progressed.
“I remember one of the first things I ever said to them was, ‘Above all, don’t play games,'” Punk said. “And they played games. Some things never change… When you enter a conversation with people you have a past with and you know who they are, how seriously can you take it? I know exactly who they are and they just continue to prove it. I’m trying to be as diplomatic as I possibly can.”
Linking back to his comments about only the “stupidest amount of money” making a comeback viable, Punk said that his new AEW deal isn’t all about the money. If that was the case, he’d have appeared at WrestleMania or the Royal Rumble.
“What I mean is, it’s not all about the money for me,” Punk said. “Because if it was, I would have probably been the main event of WrestleMania this past year. Or I would have been at the Royal Rumble. Everybody is different. Every situation is different. There’s some people that don’t like me, so all they’re going to hear is ‘Oh, he’s just doing it for the money.’ And I could give a s—.
“The proof is in the pudding. Does it matter why I’m doing it? Do you really care? If you don’t like me, don’t watch. It’s a perfect storm. It’s a lot of everything. It’s the money, it’s the freedom. It’s the creative, and it’s the possibility of working with young, talented people that excite me.”
While his debut with AEW might have been a long time coming, the contract signing was handled in typical CM Punk fashion. Harking back to signing a WWE contract on the day of Money In The Bank in 2011, the report reveals that Punk signed his AEW deal just 30 minutes ahead of walking out on Rampage.
During his big debut at the United Center in Chicago, Punk laid down a challenge to Darby Allin. The match was later confirmed and on September 5th at AEW All Out, Punk will wrestle his first match since January 2014.