CM Punk is back. After seven long years, he was back in a professional wrestling ring Friday night, as he announced his return to active status at AEW Rampage in Chicago. One of the most-anticipated wrestling returns of all-time has finally happened.
Punk's hometown crowd was so ready for this to happen, the chants before he came out were insanely loud, as was the pop when he finally emerged from backstage:
After enjoying that ovation and the reception once he hit the ring, Punk finally spoke following a commercial break:
The 42-year-old has long been one of the best mic workers in the business, and that is a skill he hasn't lost despite a long absence. He hit all the right notes. As the crowd chanted his name, he acknowledged that he's heard them do so for all the years he's been gone. CM Punk chants have been ubiquitous in Chicago over the years at wrestling events. Now they've been rewarded.
Punk also said he's not going anywhere, which mean's he's likely in AEW for a few years. This isn't going to be a one-off run. He threw some shade at WWE by saying he left professional wrestling when he departed Ring of Honor for WWE, and was returning to it at AEW. Punk continued by talking up AEW's young talent and also saying there were a few scores to settle in the locker room. He called out Darby Allin, challenging him to a match at All Out on September 5.
Punk's career has taken a few detours since he was last in the ring. He signed up with UFC and had nearly four years with the company, going 0-2 in a pair of one-sided bouts. In 2019 he joined WWE Backstage as a contributor and analyst, though he was under contract to Fox, not WWE.
By July rumors surfaced that he was headed back to wrestling full-time and that AEW would be his destination. Those reports turned out to be true.
Punk is a huge get for AEW and the ratings for the organization's two weekly shows and pay-per-views should see a solid bump from his presence.