It has been three years since CM Punk was officially given his termination papers, leaving the wrestling business after a 15-year pro career. In those three years, fans all over the world have wondered about an eventual comeback. They felt he would miss wrestling too much. They felt the business would slump, causing people like Vince McMahon to throw insane amounts of money at him for a part-time gig. They felt his move to the world of Mixed Martial Arts was a "fad" and that it wouldn't last. Punk, on the other hand, has been very adamant about not returning to wrestling at any point. Of course, that doesn't stop the speculation, guessing, hoping and wishing from happening.
Recently, I was asked about a possible return to WWE for Punk. Whenever I'm asked if I think Punk will return to WWE, I'm quick to answer that I don't see a chance in hell of it happening. This time was more about how I would like to see Punk return if it were to happen. That makes things more interesting. Again, I don't think there is any chance we see Punk return to WWE, until some point far down the road when fences can be mended and he gets inducted into the Hall Of Fame, but let's just pretend for a bit, shall we?
First and foremost, if Punk were to return, he would need to do the greatest work of his entire life to be booed. For all the trash talk that fans have given him the last three years, you're out of your damn mind if you don't think an arena won't be rocked down to its core if "Cult Of Personality" were to hit. That wouldn't just be a one-time thing, either. He'd get huge face pops in every city the company travels to. Just imagine the pop he would get in his return to Chicago.
From there, you have to think about what show he would return to. Rumor has it that we're getting another "Superstar Shakeup" after SummerSlam, but for fun, let's go with the current brand rosters as they are. Smackdown could use Punk much more than Raw could, but Raw is the "flagship" show, and we all know Vince loves most of the major television events to take place on Monday nights. As much as Smackdown might need a shot in the arm, Raw would probably be the recipient of his return.
On Raw, you have a lot of different options for Punk. You have people he has feuded with in WWE like Brock Lesnar and Jeff Hardy. You have people he has feuded with outside of WWE like Samoa Joe. You have people who he either hasn't feuded with at all, or people who he hasn't feuded with much, like Seth Rollins, Cesaro, Finn Balor, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose.
The idea of Punk vs Joe in a WWE ring is something that I have wanted to see since 2005, when Punk signed a WWE developmental deal and word was that Joe was on the company's radar, as well. For something as big as CM Punk's return to wrestling, it couldn't just happen for a mid-card feud with nothing on the line... could it? For example, let's say you think Punk's return would be best suited to happen on the Raw after WrestleMania, where a lot of shocking moments have taken place. That's fine, but wouldn't that mean Samoa Joe would have to be the Universal Champion coming out of WrestleMania? It's certainly something that could happen, especially considering Joe's stock rising in recent months, but there haven't been any leaked "plans" that mention Joe as the champ at that time. We've seen rumors that Roman Reigns would be facing Brock Lesnar at Mania 34, but that seems to have changed a bit with their involvement in the SummerSlam main event. We're now seeing seeds planted for Reigns to take on John Cena at Mania, which would make a lot of sense, but does that match need a title attached to it? Cena's "free agent" status complicates any sort of predictions for that, but the match itself is big enough to main event WrestleMania without being for any title. That could/should open the door for Joe to be involved in the Universal Title picture there.
Putting the return together isn't difficult once those dominoes fall into place. Joe could say that Brock Lesnar is afraid of him, Roman Reigns can't beat him, he injured Seth Rollins, and so forth. A tried-and-true heel promo saying that there is nobody left for him to face. Just as he's about to finish things up... "Cult Of Personality" plays, and the Smoothie King Center (hey, I didn't name the place) in New Orleans erupts in one of the biggest face pops of this generation.
Punk vs Joe would be my own personal ideal situation, but there's also a big part of me that feels you could switch out Joe with Roman Reigns and make things very interesting. Roman's crowd reactions don't seem like they're going to change at any point in the near future, so that would make for some great television with crowds being 100% invested in both competitors one way or another. It would also be fun to see the promos that Punk could lob Roman's way if he were to get the same free reign (no pun intended) on the mic that he used to have.
Again, I feel the need to point out that I don't think we're going to see any of this happen. Bridges have been set ablaze and put out with urine. There are hurt feelings on both sides. On top of that, Punk will be 39 years old by the end of this year, and with him not exactly hurting for money, that makes things more difficult. I'm not the biggest fan of Punk, the person, because of how he handles certain situations, but as a fan of professional wrestling, it would be a blast seeing him again. I just won't hold my breath.