Samoa Joe says that he knew as far back as 2019 that his old rival CM Punk would return to professional wrestling.
CM Punk made his long-awaited return to the crazy world of professional wrestling on August 20th 2021 when he signed with AEW and appeared on Rampage: The First Dance. However, during an appearance on The Kurt Angle Show, available via AdFreeShows, Samoa Joe revealed that he knew two years ago that the former WWE Champion would find his way back to the squared circle.
After leaving WWE in January 2014, CM Punk insisted that he would never wrestle again before embarking on a short-lived career in MMA competing in UFC. During this period Punk did begin to make tentative steps back towards WWE, appearing on WWE Backstage in late 2019.
Samoa Joe explained that knowing the type of person that Punk is, as soon as he had his eyes even slightly back on wrestling, he knew he would eventually get back in the ring.
“If I know one thing about Punk: if he’s out on something, he’s out on it. You won’t see him being around it, you won’t see him looking at it, you won’t see him staring at it, it’s out of his life and the minute I saw him on the FOX set, I knew his eyes were turning back towards it, and I think he was just looking for the right place at the right time and he wanted to be happy with it and I think he is. From what I’ve seen, I would gather that he is, so I’m stoked for him and I’m and I’m happy to see him back.”
While CM Punk and Samoa Joe’s paths never crossed in WWE, the pair were involved in a highly acclaimed three match series in Ring of Honor in 2004. The two men wrestled to a 60-minute draw in June, before doing the same in October. The second bout became the first North American match to receive a five-star rating from Dave Meltzer in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter in seven years. Joe defeated Punk in the final match in the series in December.
Recalling the trilogy, Joe highlighted just how important the three matches were to both men’s careers.
“Tremendously important for a lot of reasons, both from a career standpoint and from a business standpoint. It was an opportunity to kind of explore bounds that, personally, I’d never really explored before, doing the longer format matches doing the 60-minute matches and got me acquainted to what I was able to do and if I push myself and go out there.
It was a great creative effort, you know, anytime you’re in there with Punk, he’s got a tremendously creative mind, great collaborative [effort] going back and forth. It’s always very easy to come up with something great with him. It was a special time and it’s something I really enjoyed, and I definitely do highlight [the trio of matches] as a very important point in my career.”
Samoa Joe hasn’t wrestled since claiming an unprecedented third NXT Championship in August. However, despite the win, Joe has since been forced to relinquish the title due to injury. On the podcast, he revealed that he’s now focusing on his scouting role backstage.
Meanwhile, CM Punk remains undefeated since returning to the ring, most recently seeing off the challenge of Matt Sydal on the October 15th episode of AEW Rampage.
H/t to Fightful for the transcription.