January 26, 2014: A day that will live in infamy in professional wrestling history. It was the 27th overall Royal Rumble pay per view and as we know today, this was the last time we would see CM Punk compete in a professional wrestling ring.
On the receiving end of a chokeslam from Kane through the announcers table, it was a scene we’ve seen hundreds of time in the wrestling world. The wrestler gets taken out and usually gets his revenge on the next show or in the future. We never saw that in this case. We didn’t see CM Punk come out the next night on Monday Night Raw in Cleveland, Ohio. We didn’t see Kane get assaulted by CM Punk to set up a future rivalry with the two. We didn’t see CM Punk, period. Not then and not to this day anywhere in professional wrestling.
CM Punk, AKA Phil Brooks, was born in Chicago, Illinois back in October of 1978. He was drawn to pro wrestling at an early age looking up to wrestlers like Stone Cold Steve Austin and Randy “Macho Man” Savage. In 1999, Brooks wasted no time and started his professional wrestling career with a small organization called the Backyard Wrestling Federation. From there, CM Punk wrestled in some of the biggest wrestling companies in the world like Ring of Honor, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, and World Wrestling Entertainment. Collecting over 20 championships from all different promotions, the accomplishments are not in any doubt. Being WWE , World Heavyweight, ECW, and ROH champions puts Punk in a group that very few wrestlers have been able to reach.
Over five years later, the question is still asked: “Will CM Punk ever come back to wrestling?”. I think the true question should be “Does he really need to?”. Punk cited his reason for leaving WWE as a combination of being burnt out on wrestling, dealing with a combination of nasty injuries and the politics of a billion dollar entertainment company. When he saw the chance to leave, he left.
After leaving the company, Punk sat down with friend Colt Cabana on his podcast, “The Art of Wrestling”. After the hour long tirade made it to the internet, the answer was simple: we wouldn’t be seeing CM Punk on WWE television for the foreseeable future.
With the over 300 day working schedule now behind Brooks, he had to find something else to fill his time. With a love for comic books, Brooks started writing for the Marvel comic company. Brooks has contributed to Avengers and Drax comic stories and has gained praise for his comedic and complex writing. He has also started in a few films such as “Girl on the Third Floor” and “Rabid”. Neither was met with an incredible amount of fanfare but it is the fact that Brooks is doing many things he is passionate about that he wouldn’t necessarily have the opportunity to do under the WWE umbrella.
The most newsworthy story from his post-WWE life was his two fights in the UFC. Both fights didn’t end how he wanted them to, suffering consecutive losses rather quickly against Mickey Gall and Mike Jackson. With his professional fighting career up in the air, he has taken on a commentary job for Cage Fury Fighting Championships.
Just from the full list of things that Punk has achieved since leaving in January of 2014, it seems like he is legitimately enjoying his time discovering new hobbies when it is all on his time. Still, that doesn’t stop the talk from wrestling fans asking, “When are you coming back to WWE?” or just questioning his return to wrestling in general.
Punk is now on his way to being 41 years old. He’s accomplished more than most can in their respective profession, so is there really a reason for him to return? He seems genuinely happy to be away from the sport and other than a few hidden indie show cameos, which has just recently been discovered, Punk has stayed away from the wrestling world without ever really teasing a return.
It is unlikely to see Punk return to the WWE after the huge lawsuit between himself and Colt Cabana versus WWE ringside physician, Christopher Amann. Punk and Cabana won this lawsuit and have since turned towards a legal battle with each other after Cabana filed a lawsuit against Brooks for legal fees sustained during the previous case. We have seen other stars seemingly banished from the WWE make their returns; Randy Savage, the Ultimate Warrior, and Hulk Hogan are just a few to fall out of favour with Vince McMahon, only to make a return many years later. Still, Punk seems pretty set in his ways and there only seems to be one place where he’s even mentioned — All Elite Wrestling.
Since its inception, AEW has quickly picked up a very talented roster mixed of former WWE superstars and current indie stars. The current financer of AEW, Tony Khan, has stated that when coming up with a list of potential wrestlers for the start-up company, Punk was among the top of the list. Punk has teased the fans with jokes about going to AEW but it seems he’s just trying to rile them up at the moment.
Since I can’t have fun and tweet about movies or baseball without you telling me about rasslin’, question for you: Why do you spend your time on something you hate? If it’s soooooo bad, leave it. I did. Works wonders. I look forward to the intelligent discourse.
One setting where the “Voice of the Voiceless” could realistically show up in AEW is All Out in Punk’s hometown of Chicago, Illinois on August 31st, 2019. It could be a one off appearance, it could be Punk’s return to professional wrestling on a potential full time schedule, or he could just stay retired and keep doing his personal ventures. One thing is for sure: The fans shouldn’t pressure and try to force someone to do something they don’t want to do.
CM Punk had an incredible career, but it’s not 1999 and he’s not 21 years old anymore. He went out as one of the best wrestlers in the world and it seems like he is at peace with it. CM Punk does not need professional wrestling anymore. Phil Brooks does not need CM Punk anymore. If he returns, it will probably garner one of the bigger reactions in professional wrestling history but there does need to be an endgame. At the end of the day we have to cherish the memories that he gave us and let the man control his own destiny.