Thanks to FOX Sports, CM Punk is back on WWE programming and a door is now open for Punk to make his return to in-ring action for WWE. Although it may not happen soon, it’s hard not to think of the possibilities now that he’s back on WWE programming. Remember, Punk is under contract with FOX and not with WWE. If Punk returns to wrestling, it will likely be part-time as an attraction with a limited schedule. Ironically, Punk’s gripes about part-timers taking spots from everyday workers could be exactly what he does. Punk may not be as limited as The Rock or Brock Lesnar have been in recent years but it’s unlikely he’ll be wrestling on every show. It would be great to see Punk wrestle so many people on the roster, including NXT. Adam Cole being present for Punk’s return on WWE Backstage has led some to believe that Punk might feud with Cole. Punk’s return will have to be a special feud with someone at the top of the roster for a match that could headline WrestleMania otherwise, why waste an opportunity to make the most money with him? That criteria in mind, here’s a list of the top five potential feuds for CM Punk in WWE. In the comments below, share your thoughts on who you’d like to see Punk face the most and how likely it is he’ll return to the ring now.
1. Stone Cold Steve Austin
Stone Cold will make his return to WWE programming on the night of Survivor Series with his new show “‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin: The Broken Skull Sessions”. Austin stated in September of this year that he has one more match left in him. This is a departure from the stance that he’s maintained for years. Back in 2012, Austin and Punk sat down for an interview with Jim Ross in promotion of WWE 2K13. While chatting in the interview, tensions between Austin and Punk were very clear. Austin insisted repeatedly that he would defeat CM Punk if they were to meet in a match. Their personas are perfect foils for one another: one is known for beer-drinking while the other is known for being alcohol & drug free. Both are known for speaking truth to power and for being people who changed the culture for their respective generations. Punk and Austin could be portrayed as opposite sides of the same coin. Their wrestling styles would likely mesh well with Austin’s brawling being contrasted by Punk’s technical wrestling and Muay Thai strikes. Both men are amazing on the mic and have great experience building their own programs. The build to the match alone would make for months of entertaining television without either man getting physical at all. This match could headline a WrestleMania card that would easily sell out the largest stadium in the world. It may have been a lot better if we got the match in 2012, but we could still get a pretty great match in 2020. In 2020, both men are clear-headed and feeling better, physically, than they have in a long time – which counts for more than many would think. Never say “never” in wrestling.
2. Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins and CM Punk faced each other in a singles match once on the Dec 30, 2013 episode of RAW with Punk defeating Rollins with a surprise GTS while Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose looked on from ringside. Since 2013, Seth Rollins has become one of the top guys in WWE and has taken great pride in his position. Rollins has taken so much pride in being a WWE guy that it has rubbed some fans and others in the wrestling world the wrong way. This small issue could be blown up into an entire storyline building to a WrestleMania match between Punk and Rollins.
WWE fans still love CM Punk and will greet him with massive cheers should he return to compete. For the feud to work best, Rollins would have to turn heel. If Rollins turned heel as a corporate shill (which he’s done effectively in the past during his run as the chosen champion of The Authority) then he would be set up as a perfect target for Punk in his return. Rollins is a fantastic wrestler and can pull a great match out of anyone not named Baron Corbin. Punk and Rollins would put on an absolute clinic in the ring and deliver what could be the best match of Seth Rollins’ career on the biggest stage in wrestling.
3. AJ Styles
Punk and Styles have clashed in singles competition four times in the past: once in IWA Mid-South and the other three matches were in ROH. Styles was victorious in their three meetings in ROH (most notably their match on “At Our Best” refereed by Ricky Steamboat) while Punk got one on Styles in IWA Mid-South in their last recorded match. After their final match in 2004, both Styles and Punk went on to become the faces of TNA and WWE rising to the top of their industry. Both men were seen as the flag-bearers of a new generation of wrestlers inspired by the workrate and technical wrestling ability of Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Ultimo Dragon, & Dean Malenko. Unfortunately CM Punk was long gone by the time AJ Styles made his way to WWE. Styles helped re-launch the SmackDown brand in 2016 adopting the moniker “The Face That Runs The Place”. Styles asserted himself in WWE and thrived in every match and story the company has thrown at him. Styles also had a lengthy reign as WWE champion, similar to Punk’s reign.
Styles could easily cover for any ring-rust Punk may have and put on dazzling matches with the Straight Edge Superstar. Putting Punk into a feud with Styles and The OC would also bring Punk back into contact with his old friend, Luke Gallows, who was a member of Punk’s Straight Edge Society with (current NXT coach) Serena Deeb. Punk could easily attack Styles on his flat-Earther statements and various hypocrisies throughout his WWE career in the build to their match while Styles could attack Punk for his own hypocrisies and his lack of success in the MMA world. Although both men have similar wrestling styles, both men have the experience and ability to have a legendary match that will turn back the clock to 2004.
4. Samoa Joe
The trilogy of matches between CM Punk and Samoa Joe in ROH in 2004 are legendary. Their matches with one another got eyes on not only each other, but on ROH and the other competitors on the card. Samoa Joe had a successful run as champion in NXT but success in other parts of WWE hasn’t quite happened yet. He’s been used as a monster heel to build feuds with stars that don’t have his ability on the mic and then they beat him. Samoa Joe has the wrestling knowledge, ability on the mic, athleticism, size, and skill to be a believable threat in WWE if they ever decide to pull the trigger on him. He also has one thing that most people do not have: a 5-0 record against CM Punk in singles competition. Punk has never beaten Samoa Joe in any singles match for any company and they have one five star match together on “ROH Joe vs. Punk II”. Although it’s been almost 16 years since that match, Samoa Joe and CM Punk could put on another classic if given the chance. Punk’s return on WWE Backstage just happened to be on the same night that Samoa Joe was a guest on the program. Watching Joe’s reaction to Punk entering, it’s clear that Samoa Joe is thrilled to have CM Punk back and would love to have one more match with the former WWE Champion.
5. Bray Wyatt
Wyatt and Punk got physical on TV only once and it happened in a handicapped tag team match pitting Punk & Daniel Bryan against The Wyatt Family on the Nov. 25, 2013 episode of RAW. After Punk took a beating from Rowan, Wyatt tagged in to deliver body blows and a body slam on Punk before attempting a half-hearted pin and tagging out. Punk left the WWE just under three months later and never returned. Bray Wyatt has since won both the WWE Championship and is most recently the new Universal Champion. Wyatt has taken the Universal Championship to SmackDown on FOX and is now the face of WWE on FOX. Wyatt’s latest incarnation of his persona has been the most fascinating character in wrestling since his “Firefly Funhouse” segments started airing in April of 2019. Shortly after Punk’s return to WWE Programming, Wyatt Tweeted “I saw you.” with an image of CM Punk ready to whip Wyatt (then known as Husky Harris) for failing him in their stable, The Nexus and an image of Wyatt confronting Punk in 2013 while Harper and Rowan held Punk up.
A feud with Punk would be perfect for Wyatt after he finishes his program with Daniel Bryan. Wyatt’s “Fiend” persona has been virtually unstoppable since its debut. Punk would be a great foil for Wyatt to torment and psychologically break down. This is the one feud on this list where it would make sense for Punk to lose while giving momentum to a younger star and fans would go home accepting it. If Punk were to come back for one more match and lose Bray Wyatt would be the perfect guy to take him down.