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CM Punk returns to wrestling at AEW Rampage

Pro Wrestling

CM Punk returns to wrestling at AEW Rampage

The Best in the World is back, and he is All Elite!

Seven years, six months, three weeks and four days since his last televised appearance in a professional wrestling ring, CM Punk has returned to the world he left in 2014 when he appeared on the second-ever episode of AEW Rampage in a sold-out United Center in his home city of Chicago, Illinois.

Punk entered to “Cult of Personality” and soaked up the intense home crowd reaction, tearing up at points. After addressing his seven year absence from pro wrestling, saying his love for it was “stamped out” at WWE, Punk called out Darby Allin for All Out as Darby and Sting watched from the rafters. Afterward, Punk thanked fans for chanting his name for the past seven years, and even treated them to a free ice cream bar.

The last time CM Punk competed in a match was January 26, 2014, in that year’s Royal Rumble match. He lasted 49 minutes and 12 seconds before being eliminated by Kane, who was not a legal member of the match at the time. Following that, Punk suddenly and infamously quit professional wrestling, citing burnout and tension between himself and WWE.

Punk became a household name in 2011 following his now-legendary “Pipebomb” promo on June 27, 2011, where he cut a worked shoot denigrating WWE, Vince McMahon, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, name dropping several taboo names at the time. Following this, Punk would win the WWE Championship twice, including a historic 434 day reign as champion, from Survivor Series 2011 to Royal Rumble 2013, where he lost to The Rock.

CM Punk is widely considered one of the best promos in wrestling history, and while he’s certainly proficient in the ring, he has relied on his silver tongue to claw his way to the top of the card despite being notoriously prickly to deal with backstage. In addition to the “Pipebomb” promo, the “Voice of the Voiceless” has cut several of the most memorable promos in WWE history.

In November 2014, Punk was a guest on Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast, where he told his side of the story, claiming WWE had fostered an unsafe working environment, lied to him multiple times, mistreated his potentially deadly staph infection, and fired him on his wedding day. In response, WWE doctor Chris Amann sued Punk for defamation. Punk’s view on the professional wrestling world was seemingly irreparably soured after this, as he stayed away from the world that made him famous until tonight.

Since leaving wrestling, Punk has stayed busy, training for MMA and (unsuccessfully) competing in two UFC fights, writing the occasional comic book for Marvel, and acting in movies. Of course, he never totally closed the door on the possibility of returning to wrestling, teasing involvement with Bullet Club all the way back in 2017, and telling Ariel Helwani in 2018, “Something might come up. Some fun might be had.”

AEW President Tony Khan promised “the biggest surprise we’ve ever delivered” for tonight’s episode of Rampage, subtitled The First Dance, and while CM Punk’s return has been alluded to and heavily implied for weeks, it’s hard to disagree with that statement. CM Punk is back, and tonight, he made it clear he’s here for the long haul.

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