Industry insiders have been abuzz with rumors and conjecture as anticipation for CM Punk's imminent return to wrestling reaches a fever pitch. The Second City Saint is reportedly slated to be the attraction of AEW Collision, TNT's forthcoming two-hour Saturday night primetime offering.
However, fans' excitement hit a speedbump when Punk was conspicuously absent from the show's Warner Bros. Discovery Upfronts announcement, sparking rumors of a potential disagreement between the wrestling icon and AEW. AEW Collision, set to make its grand debut on June 17th, was initially expected to feature Punk prominently in its promotional materials.
Speculations ran wild when the latter was revealed without Punk's presence, with the wrestling community oscillating between certainty and doubt about his participation in the new program. The latest reports, however, confirm that CM Punk is indeed "good to go," transforming the narrative from an "if" to a "when" concerning his AEW return.
AEW's New Strategy for CM Punk
In contrast to Punk's first AEW debut in August 2021, AEW's strategy this time appears to be more transparent. Given Punk's rumored early inclusion in the show's promotional campaign, AEW initially intended to leverage his star power for pre-premiere marketing efforts.
Speculation about the timing of Punk's return is rife, with many expecting his re-emergence as early as tonight's AEW Dynamite. This conjecture is linked with AEW President Tony Khan's forthcoming announcement about AEW Collision's inaugural location, widely anticipated to be Chicago's United Center.
When this iconic venue is officially connected with AEW Collision, the conversation will undoubtedly pivot toward the city's beloved wrestling luminary, CM Punk. The narrative surrounding Punk's return might echo past storylines featuring Miro and Thunder Rosa.
Punk's comeback might be orchestrated via a backstage segment, where he may emulate Miro and Rosa's entrances into Khan's office. Alternatively, Khan could pass the baton to Punk, inviting the hometown hero to disclose the AEW Collision news himself, as was done previously with Adam Cole and Nigel McGuinness announcing major events like AEW x NJPW: Forbidden Door and AEW ALL IN: London.
It's also worth noting that AEW's recent programming has reintegrated Punk's name and image. The reigning AEW World Champion, Maxwell Jacob Friedman, referenced Punk on air for the first time since the notorious AEW All Out press conference.
Adding fuel to the speculation, Punk's face was featured in a pre-recorded package from his dog-collar match with MJF. This suggests Punk's return might be closer than we think.