Fox Sports Executives go behind the scenes.
The wrestling world was stunned on Nov. 12 when CM Punk made a surprise appearance at the end of WWE Backstage. Though Punk confirmed testing for WWE Backstage, he stated that he hadn't heard from Fox prior to the show premiering on Nov. 5, leading fans to believe that he would not be appearing on the show.
Punk's return was well hidden as only Renee Young, who had to introduce Punk, knew among the on-screen talent. Speaking to Sports Business Journal, Fox Sports executives discussed how they kept the secret.
“Part of what we’re doing with this show is shock,” said Brad Zager, Fox Sports’ executive producer, executive vice president, head of production and operations. “You heard that natural reaction from our control room not believing that this was really happening. We wanted to make this a surprise. We wanted to make this a moment.”
It was revealed Punk signed on to do the show a week before his debut, promising to keep quiet on the news. The night before Punk's appearance, he went out to dinner with Zager and Jacob Ullman, Fox Sports’ senior vice president of production and talent development.
“We had to buck the trend and not let it leak,” Zager said. “It was the tightest circle of people to ever know about something that we’ve done.”
Punk's first official show led to a big viewership increase as viewership jumped from 100,000 to 180,000 for his first week. You can find a recap of Punk's first official appearance on WWE Backstage by clicking here.