CM Punk made a surprise debut on WWE Backstage last night, ending a nearly six year hiatus/self-imposed exile from WWE programming.
The Voice of The Voiceless appeared at the very end of the program and, using a variation of Roddy Piper’s iconic catchphrase, proclaimed that “Just when they think they have the answers, I change the culture.” I’ll admit, it’s a rather timely update of the quote, no?
Punk’s debut comes after weeks of rumblings and rumors regarding the former WWE Champion’s participation in the show. Punk’s history with WWE is well documented. He started as a cult-favorite that was never meant to succeed, fought and clawed his way to a prominent position within the company, and after delivering a legendary promo in the summer of 2011 became arguably the top star in the entire WWE en route to winning and holding the WWE Championship for 434 days, the longest of any WWE Champion in the Modern Era.
CM Punk’s journey paved the way for many other wrestlers with similar backgrounds. Before his rise within the company, wrestlers who honed their skills on the independent scene were sometimes shunned by the WWE, but Punk’s rise is credited with changing the company’s position on indy stars. It could be argued that without CM Punk, we very likely would not have Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose/Jon Moxley, The Undisputed Era, Johnny Gargano, Tomasso Ciampa, hell, we probably wouldn’t have NXT as we know it.
CM Punk left the company in early 2014 amid a great deal of controversy. Citing burnout, poor management of his character, lack of opportunity and career advancement, and increasing health woes. Punk walked out of the company the day after the Royal Rumble 2014. The two parties were largely excommunicado with the exception of occasional barbs on social media, podcasts, and lawsuits.
CM Punk pursued a career in Mixed Martial Arts and fought two bouts in the UFC. Though both bouts were losing efforts, Punk showed a tremendous amount of drive and tenacity, especially considering he began training at a relatively late age. He also used his time away to pursue numerous writing ventures, penning a Drax on-going title for Marvel in addition to one-shots for Shang-Chi and Thor.
The Best in the World recently made his feature film debut in the horror thriller, Girl on the Third Floor. Yet despite all these accumulated accolades and all these years away from the ring, WWE fans never stopped chanting his name at arenas around the world.
And now, as hell froze over and pigs took to the sky, The Second City Saint has returned to WWE programming.
Details of his return as under wraps as of this writing. Those aforementioned rumblings and rumors noted that this deal may have been ushered through Fox Sports 1, the home of WWE Backstage. This may imply that Punk’s appearance on the show wasn’t fully orchestrated by the powers that be at WWE. This may mean he has only spoken to Heath Slater via carrier ravens and smoke signals. Until we hear from the man himself, it’s all hearsay and conjecture at this point. Regardless, CM Punk is back on some sort of WWE programming and here’s hoping it leads to an in-ring return.
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