CM Punk returns to WWE

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CM Punk returns to WWE

CM Punk makes his long-awaited return to WWE at “WWE Backstage” | Photo by: Uproxx

CM Punk makes his long-awaited return to WWE at “WWE Backstage” | Photo by: Uproxx

CM Punk makes his long-awaited return to WWE at “WWE Backstage” | Photo by: Uproxx

CM Punk makes his long-awaited return to WWE at “WWE Backstage” | Photo by: Uproxx

Matthew Rago, Sports Editor

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“It’s as simple as this: just when they think they have the answers, I change the culture. I’ll see you next week.”

With one pointed statement, CM Punk made his long-awaited return to WWE this past Tuesday on “WWE Backstage,” joining Renee Young, Paige, Booker T and Samoa Joe as an analyst for the FS1 program. 

Punk’s surprise appearance on WWE Backstage was met with enthusiasm by Backstage’s contributors. Samoa Joe, a long-time friend of Punk, offered:

“Well being someone who is most familiar with him, it’s the only way it could have been. You know, real quiet, real sneaky, real devious. I’m proud he’s kept up standards. It’s a really important thing. It’s good to have him back.”

Punk’s last appearance under the WWE banner came at the 2014 Royal Rumble, where he competed in the Royal Rumble match. The next night, Punk reportedly told WWE Chairman Vince McMahon that he was “going home” before proceeding to board a plane back to Chicago. 

Since then, Punk has managed to weave in and out of the spotlight. Punk’s legal battles with both WWE doctors and Colt Cabana earned the ire of wrestling fans, with WWE doctors countersuing Punk for defamation after Punk appeared on a podcast and offered incendiary remarks about the medical issues that preceded his exit. 

Cabana, Punk’s co-defendant in his successful lawsuit against WWE doctors, would also sue Punk, contending that the two had entered an agreement stating that Punk would pay Cabana’s legal fees. Punk countersued for $600,000.

Between 2016 and 2018, Punk unsuccessfully tried his hand in mixed martial arts, going 0-2 in the UFC with losses to Mickey Gall (first-round submission) and Mike Jackson (unanimous decision). However, despite his failures in other endeavors, wrestling fans have been clamoring for Punk to return to wrestling.

Punk’s return comes approximately two weeks before his hometown of Chicago hosts Survivor Series weekend. Speculation has run rampant that Punk’s return to WWE foreshadows a return to in-ring action, though neither WWE nor Punk have publicly entertained such rumors. 

Punk’s appearance on “WWE Backstage” concludes a nearly six-year hiatus from WWE television. Some believe Punk’s return is a panic move by WWE in response to a 83.3% drop in “Backstage” viewership (from 597,000 to 49,000). Nevertheless, diehard WWE fans anticipate what seems to be an inevitable return to in-ring action for the former five-time world champion.

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