As it looks increasingly unlikely that CM Punk will appear at Survivor Series in WWE, fans have begun to wonder where the “Best in the World” will land next, be it a return to AEW as the man behind MJF’s devil mask, a future debut in WWE at a show like the Royal Rumble, or another move entirely, be that in professional wrestling or away from it.
Though Punker will likely have plenty of options at his disposal moving forward, as he remains incredibly popular among a segment of the professional wrestling world and could likely still earn a massive contract either long-term or on a per-appearance deal, depending on what he wants, if he doesn’t make the right call, it’s safe to say his draw will start to dry up.
That’s why Booker T, the two-time WWE Hall of Famer and host of the Hall of Fame podcast, believes Punk should hitch his ride to the company that is pursuing him the hardest, TNA, in the hopes of providing the recently-renamed company with the sort of star power they need to go over the top.
“I look at it like this. If CM Punk was to go to IMPACT Wrestling and be a part of that, that crew down there, I think it’s definitely something that, it could work. I really do. I think there’s a lot of young guys down there, I think there’s a lot of young guys, just like in AEW, that could learn and maybe look towards CM Punk for some guidance and whatever. I don’t know. I don’t know how well that’s gonna work out or anything like that. But that’s the way I see that. The one thing I also think about with CM Punk going to IMPACT Wrestling, unlike AEW, unlike WWE, his wrestling is gonna be more spotlighted on. Just because it’s smaller crowds, everything is gonna be seen. You’re not gonna be able to hide anything in an arena like that. One thing about getting older, you’re gonna lose a step. That’s just the way it is. I just think it would be so much more noticeable. You would be looking at CM Punk’s work so much more than anything outside of what he would be doing at TNA. I’m talking about promos, I’m talking about angles. You’re gonna be looking at his work more than anything, I would think. I think that’s a position I wouldn’t want to put myself in,” Booker T said via Fightful.
“… TNA will be the spot. If he’s gonna land somewhere, TNA will be the spot. I really feel like TNA, they could use the rub. People’s eyes will be on TNA. As well as, you will actually get a chance to see CM Punk’s star power, if the needle moves for TNA, if TNA can get back in this race. Because right now, they running in third, and they way back there. But just imagine if TNA numbers could start competing with AEW. Oh man. Then people are gonna be saying, ‘Did Tony Khan make a mistake?’ That’s what’s gonna happen.”
If CM Punk went to TNA, put his name on the re-launched show, and leaned into what he was trying to do with Collision on… well, whatever Impact Wrestling is going to be called in 2024, would it have a real chance to unseat AEW as the second-biggest show in town behind WWE? I mean, probably not, as there aren’t that many televisions that get AXS on their cable box, let alone intend to watch it regularly on Thursday nights, in the end, it would help to launch the brand and prove that Punk has a true love of the pro wrestling game, which might be exactly what both sides need to get a deal done.
Booker T believes CM Punk would be a bad fit in Japan.
So, if CM Punk is down to take his talents to a smaller company like TNA, why wouldn’t he consider other opportunities like, say, New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he could work a whole new style and face off against some of the most interesting performers in the world today?
Well, as Booker T noted, working tours in Japan is a young man’s game, and at 45, Punk may simply not have the fortitude needed to get that hands-on with the likes of Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi.
“CM Punk is somebody that, I still feel like [he] has a lot of value for one of these companies out there, I really do. I’m not saying that TNA is a small fry or anything. I don’t think it’s about the size of the company or anything like that. I think it’s about the legacy that CM Punk wants to leave in the business, more than anything. I think the departure from WWE wasn’t pretty. I don’t think the departure from AEW was nice or anything like that. To be able to walk away from this thing and look back on it with some fond memories… you don’t get a chance to redo this. This is it,” Booker T noted.
“One could say, ‘Well, he could go to Japan.’ I remember MVP, and he’ll tell you this himself, MVP before he left WWE. He was like, ‘Man, my dream is to go work in Japan. I can’t wait. I love that style.’ I told MVP, I said, ‘Brother, it’s a whole lot different working in Japan at 25 than it is at 35.’ He didn’t understand what I meant until he went over there. When he did, how many tours did he go? One. That was it. You don’t want to finish your career over there. You want to finish your career right here in the good-old United States of America. That’s what you want to do. So I feel like if [Punk] was to go to TNA, he definitely could rebuild that trust with people, more than anything. I think that’s what people are gonna remember about CM Punk, more than anything. It’s gonna gonna be the matches, it’s not gonna be the Pipebomb moment.”
In a recent appearance on 670 The Score, CM Punk disclosed that his dog Larry recently “blew his ACL” and he’s been forced to spend more time at home than he’s used to in order to help him recover. While that may not be enough to stop a 25-year-old from heading to Japan in order to pay their rent and feed their families, at this stage of the game, Punk likely has different priorities and will take those into account when he decides on his next move.
CM Punk was asked if he would perform in WWE again.
“I don’t want to burst anybody’s bubble. I’m kind of just sitting at home and enjoying this beautiful Chicago weather. I have an injury in the family. My dog [Larry] blew his dog ACL. I’m literally just spending my time with… pic.twitter.com/QOfHqi2Mdk
— Fightful Wrestling (@Fightful) October 26, 2023