As his namesake implies, CM Punk has created and attracted much controversy during his storied, and presently dormant, professional wrestling career. Some consider him a quasi-heroic figure who railed against a paradoxically milquetoast and domineering establishment, and won. Others think he’s basically kind of a pompous jerk. Hints of truth appear scattered throughout the narratives presented by both parties.
WWE roundaboutly told everybody Punk (who the IRS knows as “Phil Brooks”) walked out on the company in late January of 2014. In a now infamous episode of Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast, Punk said he was fired on his wedding day. WWE physician Dr. Chris Amann is currently suing Punk for slander, claiming that he doesn’t suck at his job anywhere nearly as much as Punk said he does on the Cabana show. Punk has also said that he would “never ever” consider a return to pro wrestling in any way, shape, or form, especially not a WWE comeback.
We’re obviously in no position to comment on an ongoing legal action, nor are we anywhere near delusional enough to think we should be giving CM Punk career advice. But it is my opinion, as a person who watches too much professional wrestling, that WWE should fill several dump trucks up with money, have Vince McMahon drive these trucks to Punk’s house, drop to his knees on Punk’s front porch, and beg him to come back. If it is Punk’s wish, WWE should force Amann to drop his lawsuit – even if he’s in the right – and book Punk’s return match as a shoot fight against Amann. Or a shoot fight against Vince, in which Vince isn’t allowed to fight back. WWE should just give Punk whatever he wants. Even if what he wants is disturbing and possibly illegal.
Apparently moving on with his life with gusto, Punk is now writing Marvel comic books and training for UFC. So maybe Punk doesn’t need to return to WWE. But WWE needs CM Punk. Boy howdy, do they ever. Here, we list just a few reasons why.
15. Punk Might, Maybe Get Killed in UFC
I don’t know much about mixed martial arts, but I have a buddy who watches it all the time. He tells me CM Punk is doing the equivalent of applying for a job he clearly isn’t qualified for and is going to get humiliated and very badly hurt upon his much ballyhooed UFC debut.
It is worth noting that this aforementioned friend knows squat about pro wrestling, far less about Phil Brooks, and is wrong most of the time when discussing any and all matters. On the other hand, just as an infinite number of monkeys typing on an infinite number of typewriters eventually produce Hamlet, maybe he’s got a point this time. Given that it’s pretty much WWE’s fault Punk is able to pursue his UFC ambitions in the first place, it’s their responsibility to pay Punk whatever he wants to stop him from maybe, but probably not, getting himself killed in UFC.
14. We Want a Punk vs. Seth Rollins Feud
As of this writing, Seth Rollins is slated to face Kane at the next WWE pay per view. For reasons well beyond Kane’s control, his character ceased to be interesting in approximately 2006. As he’s approaching 50 years old, Glenn Jacobs doesn’t scan as a likely candidate for a major world title push. So we already know he’s probably going to lose at Hell in a Cell. It’s almost as if we’re seeing Kane vs. Rollins because the WWE creative team couldn’t think of anyone aside from John Cena to work a program with Rollins and they just tapped the old workhorse to fill some time.
For many reasons so obvious that I don’t need to waste anyone’s time by listing them, a Punk/Rollins rivalry could be milked for at least three or four PPV cycles, giving the writers more than enough time to come up with fresh ideas for the future.
13. We Also Want More Punk vs. Lesnar
Let’s say CM Punk manages just fine in UFC. Let’s say he even winds up being wildly successful. If such a scenario unfolds, Punk would become the only other pro wrestler aside from Brock Lesnar to transition to mixed martial arts without making a fool of himself, thereby making a Punk/Lesnar program twice as marketable as it was the first time around. And it would allow Punk the chance to avenge his loss to Lesnar at SummerSlam 2013, which would be awesome because CM Punk losing to Lesnar was stupid. Brock Lesnar doesn’t even have a neck. How could Lesnar beat up CM Punk when his head isn’t even properly fastened to the rest of his body?
Sadly for WWE, their ratings haven’t been anything spectacular in recent weeks. While sustainable viewer interest could be built up over time by implementing logical yet engaging stories and equipping performers with the airtime they need to capture the audience’s imagination, stunts tend to work better for grabbing ratings in the short run. And as far as shocking returns go – would minds not be blown on a planetary level if Punk swooped in from nowhere and crashed Monday Night Raw? In fact, is there any other still-alive wrestler, or even mainstream celebrity, who would garner as much instant mass-scale attention? Only Miley Cyrus and only if she signed up for a bong on a pole match against Stephanie McMahon.
11. Merch Sales
It’s been speculated that one of the handful of reasons John Cena has never turned heel is he sells a ton of T-shirts – or, that the powers that be perceive Cena as the only member of their roster who can consistently move swag. Punk is the lone individual within the last decade or so who, albeit for a brief period of time, topped Cena’s draw at the WWE merch tables. Then again, T-shirt sales might not be the end-all-be-all one might be led to assume, as far as WWE booking goes. Dean Ambrose was a surprise top-commodity at WWEShop.com last year and it didn’t exactly propel him to main event status.
10. It’s Gonna Happen in 10 Years Anyway
The Ultimate Warrior came back, despite being fired by Vince McMahon twice for perfectly legitimate reasons, then maligned in the Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior DVD, of which all unsold copies were burned within an hour of Warrior’s shuffling loose the mortal coil. Bret Hart came back, despite being at the center of one of the most controversial finishes and bitter departures in wrestling, ever. So maybe it won’t happen until 2025 when Punk gets inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, but it’s just a matter of time before enough water passes under the bridge for Punk and WWE to become amicable business associates, if not necessarily friends, once again. Why bother waiting?
9. A Second Chance To Do Punk’s “Win The Title, Leave The Company” Story Right
When CM Punk defeated John Cena for the world title the day before his contract was set to expire, it could’ve been the start of the most intriguing, fourth-wall breaking storyline in WWE since Steve Austin and Vince McMahon convinced a confused nation that they legitimately didn’t like each other. Punk could’ve made history by defending the WWE strap in unaffiliated promotions like Ring of Honor or TNA. The work could’ve been dragged out for a year, with a mind-boggling payoff. Instead, Punk was back on WWE programming with the belt within two months.
Here’s an idea – what if they work it out so lightning strikes twice and Punk, through some sort of contractual loophole, somehow wins the WWE title while still fictionally under the employ of UFC? Once again, Punk’s genuine bone to pick with WWE management could be used as fodder for an epic worked shoot, except this time, they could play it out like a long-con instead of cutting it off too early like they did the first time.
8. They Could Get AJ Lee Back In A Package Deal, Maybe?
With Paige, Bayley, Sasha Banks, Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Natalya, and Emma all currently among WWE’s active roster, they don’t necessarily need another top-tier female performer as much as they need to figure out how to better utilize what they’ve already got. But that doesn’t mean it would hurt to have AJ Lee back! Technically, her old contract might not even have expired yet – which would explain why she hasn’t worked for any independent promotions since her retirement from WWE. Is there anyone who doesn’t want to watch Stephanie McMahon tapping out to the Black Widow, then admitting she’s been complicit in holding down the women’s division for years, and that it was her idea to give AJ a crappy theme song to diminish her marketability and begging for forgiveness?
7. They Could Bring Colt Cabana Back Too. Why Not?
WWE has been kind of hurting for worthwhile content on the WWE Network – as indicated by how they’re resorting to prank shows and Total Divas marathons so regularly. They may not be interested in Colt Cabana as an in-ring performer and they’re currently pissed off at him for giving Punk a platform to air his dirty laundry. But since they’ve already shown that they’re open to converting podcasts into talk shows – why not give Colt Cabana a gig as WWE’s answer to John Oliver with a weekly recap/interview show? Plus, if WWE winds up owning Cabana and Art of Wrestling, they can make sure that neither is used against them, ever again.
6. We Want A New Straight Edge Society
We’ve been watching variations of The Wyatt Family vs. The Shield, and The Wyatts vs. The Shield minus one, for a couple of years now. We’re overdue for a new charismatic cult leader to challenge Wyatt for the title of WWE’s omega Kool-Aid salesman. Enter the new Straight Edge Society: CM Punk, joined by whichever two or three current denizens of the NXT locker room he feels like recruiting. And technically, considering The Shield were originally conceived as CM Punk flunkies, this would play out as yet another variation of the Wyatts vs. The Shield, except hardly anyone would notice.
5. WWE Could Finally Have an Alpha Babyface to Replace Cena
I’m probably wandering into the realm of wishful thinking here, but if Punk returns as a babyface, reclaims his status as an alpha-rebel, neo-Stone Cold type, and his merch sales wind up matching if not surpassing Cena’s, WWE would finally be out of excuses for continuing the totally boring Cena-As-Superman trope. If executed properly at this point in history, a Cena heel turn could resonate on the level of Hogan’s nWo turn in the mid-’90s. If executed poorly, it could play out as poorly as Austin’s brief bad guy phase in the early ‘00s. No one will know how it’ll go until someone tries, right?
4. Wrestling Fans Need Grammar Lessons
While there are many positive things to say about wrestling fans as a whole, absolutely no one is claiming that they’re all rocket scientists. In fact, many wrestling fans are so dumb that they continue to live only because it is remarkably difficult for an adult to starve to death in modern society, unless they set out to do so on purpose.
Here’s a thought – Why not bring back CM Punk’s Grammar Slam and make it a regular segment on Raw? It could be like Piper’s Pit, except without guests or any connection to the rest of the show. Punk could just point out grammatical mistakes in signs that fans tirelessly wave around at live events. The WWE Universe may, eventually, become smarter as a result.
3. CM Punk Is Really, Really Good At Wrestling
Does anyone deny this? Punk describes himself as the Best In The World and even if you don’t happen to agree with that statement, you must surely concede that he’s one of the best in the world, yes? That means the bulk of WWE’s current cabal of employees are not as good at their jobs as CM Punk would be if were he once again working for WWE.
If CM Punk, one of the world’s greatest wrestlers, isn’t gainfully employed by the world’s most lucrative and successful wrestling company, then there is something wrong with capitalism. And what’s bad for capitalism is bad for America.
If WWE is truly a patriotic organization, if WWE wants to really support the troops, then it is crucial that they convince Ryback to cut his own arms off, if such a gruesome act would appease Phil Brooks (Although it probably wouldn’t come to that).
2. Chris Amann’s Lawsuit Is Interesting, Possibly Stupid
Let’s say Chris Amann is telling the truth and Punk exaggerated or made up parts of his story, as told on the Cabana show, about Amann ignoring or misdiagnosing Punk’s staff infection. If our understanding of libel/defamation laws is correct (by all means let us know if we’re off the mark, here) since Amann is not a public figure, a court would only needs to prove that Cabana didn’t call Amann to give his side of the story to rule in the plaintiff’s favor. This could make podcasters in the future feel obligated to collaborate all kinds of random wacky anecdotes their guests tell to avoid winding up in legal hot water. But if Punk is telling the truth, he should be able to demonstrate such pretty easily and WWE will look really stupid.
1. Living Colour Needs Money
These days, it’s hard for any musicians to make money – especially if they haven’t had a hit song in 15 years. We’ve got to assume the band Living Colour made more bank off licensing “Cult of Personality” during CM Punk’s post-pipe bomb run than they had in quite some time prior to that. Consider how many people have downloaded “Cult of Personality,” or Vivid, the 1988 album upon which it appears, without paying for it since the track reemerged as Punk’s theme. Is it fair that Living Colour is no longer in a position to collect even more royalties from WWE? We think so.
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