The Return of All Returns: CM Punk (My Initial Thoughts & Must-Have Match-Ups)

It didn’t need to be a huge surprise for us to lose our minds.

This past Friday night, the wrestling world changed forever—and for once, I don’t think I’m using hyperbole—which, if you’ve been following me for a while, is one of my trademarks (“along with the remainder of Generation Z” – brilliant social commentary from the editor). This adequately accurate description of events, then, should tell you how important this moment truly was…

CM PUNK came out of wrestling “hibernation”, if you will, for the first time in seven years. 

Why hibernation? Well, in a weird way, I thought he could be compared to a bear. That’s right, like his city’s iconic NFL team (except, he doesn’t suck–we don’t think…it HAS been seven years). CM Punk, like a bear, has always been known for his unique attacks (in more ways than one), as well as his knack for grabbing the attention of everyone–in any arena or at home–regardless of cultural barriers or supposed alignment he has at any given moment. 

Last weekend was no exception, as he brought his hometown crowd, and many wrestling fans watching at home, to what can only be described as a fever pitch built of euphoric excitement and anticipation the likes of which only professional wrestling can provide to those of us who practically live for the sport.

(If you need any reminder feel free to watch his entrance again here at this link courtesy of AEWs official YouTube channel) https://youtu.be/ByAXCjqBzLg.

After he soaked in all of the adulation he could emotionally handle, he crouched down, placed his hand to the center of the mat, immediately followed by his backside, and then crossed his legs indian-style—a very, very familiar sight that erupted the volcanic crowd all over again, as the position was a stark reminder to the worked-shoot promo that catapulted Punk from legitimate superstardom to legitimate megastardom in the world of professional wrestling–”The Pipe Bomb”. 

Even wrestling fans that weren’t around to enjoy the game in the early twenty-teens know this promo that kicked off the “Reality Era”, just as well as Attitude Era fans know the short, but sweet “Austin 3:16” promo, and golden age fans know the extremely relatable, heart-string-tugging “Hard Times” speech given by “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes (despite it taking place outside of the confines of the WWF/WWE).

Finally, seven years after his departure from the business in 2014, CM Punk–the name most frequently chanted in arenas across the globe to this daywas back.

BUT! As many people more qualified than me have said in the past, wrestling has no off-season  and this honeymoon cannot, and will not, last forever. In fact, it may not even last past All-Out, when Punk goes up against an extremely popular, Sting-seconded young man that managed to get his own name briefly chanted amidst Punk’s return address, in Darby Allin. Punk admitted that Darby was good and even gave recognition to Darby’s penchant for danger–of course, that was immediately before the 42-year-old megastar provided assurances to the 28-year-old rising star that there was nothing more dangerous than stepping into the ring with CM Punk, especially in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois.

Cue another lavatic burst of deafening noise from the packed United Center.

A match for the ages, Punk versus Allin is sure to be–however, I have a couple of ideas as far as who “Pipe Bomb” Punk should wrestle after the fearless daredevil.  A wish list, you might call it–and considering any match with CM Punk is bound to be good, I only included two musts for myself.  That’s not too much to ask, is it?  

So, if Darby Allin is “Opponent #1”, who should be the next one to benefit from taking on the Second City Saint?

OPPONENT #2 MJF.

Oh, the dastardliness…

Maxwell Jacob Friedman AKA  MJF–the twenty-five-year-old, unquestionable, bonafide future of this business who a lot of the AEW fanbase loves to hate, myself included.

I don’t want this match just because I wanna see CM Punk kick his ass and finally knock that smug grin off of his face (though, I do), but honestly, for better or worse, MJF can easily be argued as a version of a younger CM Punk in his prime (if we come to find he’s no longer in his prime). Some of you may get this immediately, but some may not, so I’ll elaborate.  

This statement rings true in the way that both men did and do anything they possibly could to rile up fanbases of any shape and size, truly embodying the art of villainy and heelishness in its purest form. I mean, CM Punk has mocked the death of Paul Bearer, the near death of Jerry Lawler and he also signed his WWE contract on top of the sacred ROH World Championship in 2006. I don’t think I have to wax lyrically that much about the horrors MJF has imposed upon his rivals, but here’s a quick list (see what I did there?)… 

  1. Beat up a sixty-one-year-old, Parkinson’s diseased Dean Malenko.
  2. Cost Cody Rhodes his only (and last EVER, as a conditional result) shot at the AEW World Championship. 
  3. Destroyed Chris Jericho’s elbow beyond repair after shoving him off of the “Blood and Guts” cage. 

So, yeah, both of these men are known for their despicable acts in the pro wrestling business–and yet, the truth?

The truth is, that none of us can ever turn away, regardless of how heinous either man’s actions become. I think it would be pretty cool to see them try and one-up each other, with it getting progressively nastier and more stomach-turning until their inevitable singles match, which would undoubtedly whip the crowd into a raucous frenzy.  

OPPONENT #3 Kazuchika Okada.

Potentially, CM Punk’s greatest opponent…

My second choice of dream matches for Punk is a contest that could easily sell out any major arena the world over.  

CM Punk versus NJPW’s Kazuchika Okada. 

I know, at first, this might seem incredibly unrealistic–BUT, we have seen in the recent past that NJPW athletes have no problem showing up on AEW television for the right price or opportunity, thanks to the ever exciting “Forbidden Door” finally being kicked down. So, this could easily happen sometime in the next year or so, after travel restrictions clear up! 

Hear me out. Let me set the tone for you.

*Cues motivational mood music.*

In one corner, you’ve got one of only three men in history to hold both the ROH and WWE world championships, in CM Punk. In addition to the aforementioned, Punk has a list of accolades and iconic moments a mile long. Prior to AEW, he beat the best that every major company he wrestled for threw at him.  In WWE, he holds massive victories over the likes of John Cena and Bryan Danielson (for those of you who don’t know who that is–well, you should, but if you don’t, you’ll find out soon enough).  In Ring of Honor, he took down legends, like Raven, and beat the highly controversial Austin Aries for the ROH World Title. The list for both of these companies is much, much longer, but you get the idea. CM Punk called himself “The Best in the World” because he beat the best that every company he worked for had to offer.  

On the other hand, you’ve got a man who has just as many or more iconic moments and matches. A former winner of the G1 Climax and a multi-time IWGP Heavyweight champion, Kazuchika Okada has been a major factor in NJPW’s relatively recent explosion of popularity here in America. In fact, when push comes to shove, Okada has been the biggest star for New Japan for the better part of a decade, and has been fairly dominant during that tenure, with victories over AJ Styles, Kenny Omega, and Hiroshi Tanahashi, among others.  He’s worked in Ring of Honor, Punk’s launchpad, where he put down former ROH World champ, Dalton Castle.

Punk and Okada both even spent a cup of coffee in TNA (Impact)!  

These two don’t just have comparable resumes–they would really match up well stylistically, with their combination of hard-hitting strikes and unique connections with fans around the globe. No matter where this match took place, this match would truly make history. It has the potential to be the greatest wrestling match the world has ever seen. Have you ever seen anything like it before?  Do you think you would ever see anything like it, again? Arguably the two biggest pro wrestling stars of the two biggest pro-wrestling-loving countries in the world, going head to head? 

Orton versus Edge?  

Ric Flair versus Ricky Steamboat?

Antonio Inoki versus Hulk Hogan?  

Omega versus Jericho?

If it’s not too much trouble (and it shouldn’t be), I’d prefer Okada versus Punk, please.

Conclusion…

Thank you all for your support. It really means a lot to me and all of my fellow bodyslam.net contributors. Feel free to discuss your possible matches for CM PUNK on the Twitter link to this piece (find it @coolguysince01 or @bodyslamNET) and in the comments below. 

  • Brendan

(If you didn’t catch it the first time, remember to follow me on Twitter, at @coolguysince01, for updates on my future projects and articles!)

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