Paul Heyman has opened up about CM Punk's return to professional wrestling.
After walking away from WWE following the 2014 Royal Rumble, CM Punk made his long-awaited return to the ring this past August when he signed with All Elite Wrestling, making his debut for the promotion on August 20 at The First Dance edition of Rampage.
His former manager in WWE, Paul Heyman, was recently a guest on The Masked Man Show and shared his thoughts on Punk and what he's interested in seeing out of the self-proclaimed Best in the World.
“I don’t know if what he’s doing now is where he should be judged. I think what will be interesting is, what happens when the novelty that he’s back wears off? Both for the audience and for him. I’m sure for him, this is still like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I’m back! I’m actually walking into an arena. Holy!’ I think it’s still very fresh for him. What happens a year from now? How’s he going to feel? How will the audience look at him and accept him in a year?
If he can continue to drive himself to being a progressive, compelling, riveting character on the cutting edge that presents himself in a different manner than anybody else can present themselves, then he’s going to be a fascinating character to watch. If he can’t, then he’s going to be someone that came back, rode a wave of nostalgia, but didn’t progress into the future when he as a rebel was always looking forward in the business and not trying to live off of what the business had already accomplished or what he had already accomplished in the business. So, the fascinating thing for me to watch is his mindset, is his vision for that character, for that persona, for himself as a performer a year from now.
Heyman continued on and explained how he had the same conversation with Roman Reigns before they appeared together on television following SummerSlam 2020.
We’re still in the honeymoon period. But where does he want to take this guy? Where does Phil Brooks want to take CM Punk? It’s the same conversation that I had with Roman Reigns before we debuted in public together. Again, it was taking The Big Dog and moving him into the role of The Tribal Chief. Everything that you’ve done only leads up to now. That was just the appetizer, and now it’s going to be the main course. I told Roman, I said, ‘You’ve had four WrestleMania main events and you have to look at that as just the audition to be The Tribal Chief. It’s just the lead-up to it. Because everything that you’ve done before now is just the lead-up to the moment that you emerge as The Tribal Chief. This is where your legacy gets crafted. This is your Hall of Fame run. This is what you’ll be remembered for. Everything before was just getting you here, including four WrestleMania main events.’
In the end, no matter how hard Punk is working right now, Heyman believes that it's what he does over the next three years that will truly define his return to the ring.
For Phil Brooks, that’s the same thing. Everything that he accomplished, and he accomplished a lot... Everything for him that led up until a year from now, including his return and the enormous reaction to his return is just the lead-up. Where does he take the CM Punk character in 2023, 2024, 2025, and can he make that character so progressive, so revolutionary, so evolutionary, so riveting, so compelling, so different and unique than anybody else that’s out there that he truly defines himself as a transformative figure, a true disruptor in the professional wrestling/sports entertainment game?
That’s the interesting part to me. What he’s doing now, no matter how hard he’s working, is he’s just riding that wave of momentum. But, momentum ultimately stops and then you have to create a next wave of momentum or you have to create a completely different level of interest based on how far that momentum pushed you in front of the audience and into their hearts, and their souls, and their spirits, and their consciousness. That’s the interesting part for me to watch. We’re still a year away from it," Heyman said.
Punk is currently undefeated in AEW and is set to face MJF next Wednesday night on Dynamite. Click here to learn more.
Paul Heyman is once again advocating for Brock Lesnar, who is set to defend the WWE Championship against Bobby Lashley at the Royal Rumble. To see the full card for the event, click here.
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