Seven years after stepping away from the ring, CM Punk is a professional wrestler once more.
The former WWE champion sent the wrestling world into a frenzy when he made his debut in AEW on Friday, August 20 in his hometown of Chicago.
The pop inside the United Center was deafening, and Punk’s iconic “Cult of Personality” theme song could barely be heard over the ear-shattering cheering that fans had waiting almost a decade to let out.
Luckily, fans could still hear when Punk took the mic for his first true wrestling promo since January of 2014, which the “Best in the World” claimed was unplanned.
Punk mentioned a lot of key details throughout his historic “pipebomb,” but here are a few of the most important quotes from his AEW debut:
“I’ve got the time and I ain’t going anywhere.”
Punk made it clear off the bat that this appearance wouldn’t be a one-off, and his build towards the All Out pay-per-view in September wouldn’t be his only work in AEW.
Like he would explain later, there are so many wrestlers for him to work with and build off of, and a motivated and energized Punk is going to do wonders for AEW’s programming.
“I was never going to get healthy staying in the place that got me sick in the first place”
Punk pulled no punches in his first promo as an AEW wrestler, and took a shot at his former employer’s medical staff that he has been vocal about in the past.
The former WWE champion is not shy when it comes to telling stories about how WWE’s doctors would treat him (medically), and he has explained that his health was not in a good spot towards the end of his run with the company.
By putting that nugget out early in his AEW tenure, Punk simultaneously buried WWE and signaled that he feels refreshed and rejuvenated ahead of an important stretch in AEW’s history.
“In 2005, I left professional wrestling. August 20, 2021, I’m back.”
WWE has long been considered “sports entertainment” and the company’s executives and superstars frequently reference it as such both behind the scenes and on television.
Even when that “sports entertainment” culture was around, however, Punk would continue to refer to the business as “professional wrestling,” especially during his historic “Pipebomb” promo in 2011.
By only referencing his run in Ring of Honor and his debut in AEW, Punk acknowledged that he wasn’t doing what he truly loved during his WWE tenure from 2005 through 2014.
“There’s a hell of a lot of young talent that I wish I was surrounded by 10 years ago. I said, ‘They’re there now and why aren’t you?'”
Punk famously told the story about Vince McMahon wanting him to make Roman Reigns look good during Punk’s feud with “The Shield” in 2013.
He even expressed his desire to put the group over in a handicap match during the feud, which was instead met with the decision for him to win the match.
Even after Punk had monumental feuds with John Cena, Brock Lesnar, and The Undertaker, WWE didn’t have the pieces in place to keep him motivated enough to stick around, especially when factoring in his health situation at the time.
Fast forward to 2021, and the options are endless for the “Best in the World.” Darby Allin, Kenny Omega, MJF, Adam “Hangman” Page. There’s so much talent to work with in AEW, and Punk obviously felt that there was enough potential there to commit to a long run with the company.
Punk’s work in AEW is going to be must-see television, and his debut marked one of the most important moments in professional wrestling’s long history.
Now, after seven years, there are only three words that need to be said: It’s Clobberin’ Time.
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