Never Say Never: Of Course CM Punk's Back on WWE Programming

Surprised that CM Punk's got a new WWE gig? You shouldn't be.

hil 'CM Punk' Brooks attends the red carpet Premiere of "Girl on the Third Floor"

Image via Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Queensbury Pictures / Dark Sky Films

hil 'CM Punk' Brooks attends the red carpet Premiere of "Girl on the Third Floor"

Last night, the long-rumored reunion of CM Punk on WWE programming was made official: CM Punk's made a surprise appearance on FS1's WWE Backstage program to confirm he's joining the show as a correspondent. According to the Wrestling Observer, a press release about the announcement says that Punk "will be making select appearances in the studio with regular hosts Young and Booker T." Unsurprisingly, the internet spent the rest of the night dropping all kinds of theories and viewpoints on Punk's new gig and what it means for Punk's future. Given his past with the WWE, which famously ended with a mic drop of a legendary podcast appearance exposing all of the ways Punk says the WWE wronged him after he walked out on the WWE, those concerns make sense, but realistically...why would you be surprised?

Look, I get it; Punk's situation, which highlighted just how necessary an offseason in pro wrestling can be, sucked. And after he left—and had a million-dollar defamation lawsuit lobbed at him by the WWE—it totally makes sense if he'd never want to return. Punk wouldn't accept Vince McMahon's apology for the ordeal and hasn't been shy in his lack of desire to keep up with pro wrestling (and the WWE specifically) since he left. And he probably shouldn't; but does that mean that we should be surprised that he's back at the house that Vince built?

Don't forget: this is the same organization that brought back the (Ultimate) Warrior, who had a tumultuous relationship with the organization. He has a whole ass award named after him, and ended up in the Hall of Fame before his death in 2014. This is the same organization who scrubbed Hulk Hogan from their entire website after a videotape featuring extremely racist remarks surfaced. His Hall of Fame status was reinstated in 2018. Hell, Kurt Angle said quit the WWE in 2006 due to how often he was working hurt, only to show up in TNA Impact like a month later. The dirtsheets had Kurt being one of the few that Vince absolutely didn't want to have return...he recently got a year-ish swan song of a run in the WWE before securing a job as a producer behind-the-scenes. There's a precedent set over the WWE's existence that should make this CM Punk news neither shocking nor surprising.

Outside of all of this, you have to look at what WWE (and, more importantly, Fox) is doing with this phase of their partnership. In October, Fox debuted WWE Smackdown, the main part of the five-year, $1 billion deal signed back in 2018. It was their replacement for the UFC, who signed a deal with ESPN that was announced back in March. With WWE Backstage, Fox is recreating UFC on Fox, which took more of a journalistic look at the mixed martial arts institution. That's hard to do when you're rocking with the WWE, who had a strong hand when it comes to how shows they are working on—especially ones with their on-air talent and executives like Triple H—and the first few episodes felt more like a WWE-produced product compared to the UFC on Fox days. Maybe someone like CM Punk, who has been one of the more outspoken figures both inside and outside of the WWE, can bring that energy that will be needed to bring more viewers to the show and, hopefully, can bleed into their Raw and Smackdown shows as well.

Realistically, how long should CM Punk and WWE beef? There's a reason crowds continue to chant his name in arenas across the country—his impact is untouched, and when you couple that with how he left and how his fans responded, it was only a matter of time before CM Punk returned to the WWE. Like Thanos, it's inevitable.

The more interesting point is what this could mean for Punk's career going forward. He isn't a staple host of WWE Backstage, but it's hard to say how often he will be on the show. That said, one has to imagine that one good hot take could turn into CM Punk returning to either of the main roster shows. Interestingly enough, Survivor Series is coming up this month, and it will be in Illinois, Punk's home state. Maybe this timing is more on point than we realized. Maybe it's time for the Cult of Personality to add his brand of real talk to today's WWE climate. Whatever the reasoning, the WWE's got us talking about them again, and that's what's most important, right?

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