From 2011 to 2013, Phil Brooks, better known to everybody as professional wrestler CM Punk, was on the top of the wrestling world. From his in-ring ability, to his skills on the microphone, the self-proclaimed “Best in the World” appeared to be exactly that. With t-shirts bearing his name and image his merchandise flying off the shelves, signs bearing his name throughout the crowd, and those very same fans chanting and screaming his name at virtually every arena World Wrestling Entertainment performed at, he was arguably the most popular WWE Superstar even before he shocked the fans, his former employer, and the internet wrestling community with his now infamous Pipe Bomb on an episode of Monday Night Raw in June of 2011. This is why it was at the time it was such a shock to hear on January 26th 2014, that CM Punk had decided to quit the WWE and retire from the wrestling business entirely.
Although it may be hard to believe given the fact that you can still hear his name chanted at WWE events all across the globe, Punk has been gone for 15 months. In separate interviews CM Punk, as well as those close to him have listed numerous reasons as to why he left the business. From the intense WWE travel schedule, to his beat up body, to backstage politics within the company, to injuries, and his unhappiness about constantly having to lose to part time wrestlers, CM Punk appeared to be anything but a happy employee towards the end of his WWE tenure.
Despite all of the evidence pointing towards Mr. Brooks staying retired-especially given the fact that he announced at UFC 181 that he had signed a multi-fight deal with the Ultimate Fighting Championship- WWE fans, wrestling fans in general, and even CM Punk fans like yours truly, still hold out hope that the self-proclaimed “Best in the World” will eventually change his mind and strap on the boots at least one more time. Will that happen? No one knows for sure of course except for the man himself. So, while we wait for him to grace us with his presence in the squared circle, I will give you the top 10 reasons why I think the Chicago native will walk through the curtain once again.
10 WWE Network
Since the WWE launched their prized network on February 24th, 2014, the company has had virtually every superstar, diva, and announcer plug the network and its content, as well as constantly reminding people to subscribe to it on every WWE pay-per view, and their signature programs like Raw, SmackDown, Superstars, and NXT for the low price of $9.99. Just for the record, in Canada, the cost is $11.99. Why the WWE doesn’t announce that to their second largest, and arguably their most passionate fan base is anybody’s guess.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the WWE Network has seen a recent increase in subscribers. The publication however links the recent rise to the fact that the company recently held their annual WrestleMania event. As we know, it's the Super Bowl of the WWE. Once the WrestleMania-fever dies down, the publication feels that we will likely see a return to normal for the subscriber rate. Keep in mind there's no six-month commitment with subscriptions anymore. As a result of that, the big question of course is what will Vince McMahon’s empire do to get back not only those lost viewers and subscribers back, but how will they attract new ones as well? What else besides going back to the well.
While the WWE has given huge pushes over the last year to young talents like Rusev, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and their current WWE World Heavyweight champion Seth Rollins, the company has been known to go back in its past time and/or get mega stars to get a ratings boost. We see it every year the company’s four main pay-per views (SummerSlam, Survivor Series, the Royal Rumble, and of course WrestleMania) it seems that CM Punk qualifies for both categories.
9 ROH and TNA
The two major wrestling organizations that employed Mr. Brooks before the WWE. What both companies wouldn’t give right now to have the self-proclaimed “best in the world” walk through their curtain at their next PPV? While we could only imagine, you could be sure that a limited schedule and their respective heavyweight championship belts would just be the beginning of what either company would offer. Besides, what better way to stick it to his former employer than to show up on an opposing company’s broadcast?
Although his wife AJ Lee (April Mendez) recently took a page out of her husband’s book and called it a career, the fact remains that she too is a wrestler. While Mendez is no longer a WWE Diva, she is still currently under contract to the company. Once her contract is up, what would stop her from applying her craft elsewhere, and how much convincing would it take for Punk to lace up the boots and make a return to the ring especially with his wife by his side?
Clearly no one in their right mind would question whether or not Punk is a tough customer. However, one of the main reasons he gave for quitting professional wrestling is that his body had been beat up from years in the ring. The fact remains, that the UFC is a tough place as well. Will the injuries and punishment he put his body through after years in squared circle catch up to him? Even if it doesn’t, we’ve seen plenty of injuries suffered by UFC vets like Anderson Silva, Heath Herring and Georges St. Pierre. What will happen when a rookie like Mr. Brooks suffers his first serious injury in his new sport of choice?
6 Brock Lesnar
Punk’s 2013 SummerSlam opponent and a fellow Paul Heyman guy, the Beast Incarnate recently announced on ESPN that he had re-signed with the WWE on a new three-year deal, with limited appearances that will pay him $3 million a year. Just like Lesnar who main-evented this year’s marquee show at brand new Levi’s Stadium, something tells me that Brock’s announcement and his new mega deal didn’t go unnoticed by the former WWE superstar. If Punk were ever offered a similar deal, it'd be tough to turn down.
5 Missing the squared circle
In various interviews since his retirement, CM Punk has claimed to have no desire to ever strap on the boots again. Despite what he says, the fact remains that he is still a wrestler. Whether it’s his skills in the ring, his work on the mic, or his ability to connect with his fans and get people out of their seats, when CM Punk was in the ring and called himself the “Best in the World”, not too many people could argue with him. As we’ve seen with many wrestler in the past (The Rock, Ric Flair, Stone Cold Steve Austin, etc…) the screaming crowds, the attention, fame, and limelight have been too much to turn away from. Time will only tell if Punk is any different than the rest.
4 Paul Heyman
Although it’s been nearly 18 months since their on camera relationship came to a violent end on an episode of Monday Night Raw in November of 2013, WWE’s most beloved and hated on screen character in the entire company right now, Heyman, has always had the ear of the self-proclaimed “best in the world”, and Punk has throughout the years, always referred to himself as a Paul Heyman guy. Whether or not the former Paul E. Dangerously is able to convince his friend and former client to return to the world of wrestling, an important fact that shouldn’t be ignored is now that his wife has quit, besides the fans, and some of his former colleagues, Heyman remains one of, if not the only influential link between Punk and the WWE.
3 The Best in the World?
Yes Punk has a multi-fight deal with the kings of the octagon, and while reports of CM Punk’s training, work ethic, and dedication, to his new craft have been nothing short of impressive, there is still the big question that needs to be addressed. That question of course is what if the UFC is too much for Punk? What happens if he loses every single fight, or at the very least looks extremely unimpressive in them? Jake Shields, Kimbo Slice, and Gabriel Gonzaga are just some of the names that came to the octagon with a ton of hype but failed to amount to anything. Could the self-proclaimed “Best in the World” be next?
2 Never say never in the WWE
The WWE officially fired Punk from the company on the day of his wedding to the aforementioned April Mendez on June 13, 2014. History, however has taught us to never say never with this company as names like Bret Hart, Brock Lesnar, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Bruno Samartino, the late Ultimate Warrior, and even Mr. WWE himself Hulk Hogan, leave Vince McMahon’s empire at one time or another, only to make their triumphant return down the road. Whether it’s by offering him the main event spot in WrestleMania that he has always wanted or by offering a truck load of money the WWE has been known to change people’s mind on occasion.
Despite the pipe bomb, the great matches, the memorable moments, the championships, and the fact that he is still over with the fans as evidenced by how often and how loud the WWE universe still chant his name on television, PPV, and even at house shows, some people still remember him as the guy that quit. One would imagine that a guy like Punk who at least on camera appeared to be a person who cares about the fans, and more importantly his place in wrestling history, wouldn’t want the word quitter to be the last thing that people associated with his name.