CM Punk is signed to All Elite Wrestling now, but the former WWE Champion has revealed he did speak to WWE prior to making his AEW debut.
When CM Punk left WWE the night after the 2014 Royal Rumble, he was physically beaten up and mentally exhausted. Punk walked away from a huge contract because he just didn’t want to be a WWE superstar anymore. Punk has talked about that at length and when he made his AEW debut several weeks ago, he spoke about how he needed to get away from there (referring to WWE).
In a new interview with ESPN, Punk explained his decision to sign with WWE. Punk noted that he met with AEW President Tony Khan for the first time on December 26, 2018, before AEW was officially announced as a new wrestling promotion in January 2019. Talks between Punk and AEW continued with Khan confident that he would be able to sign Punk.
Punk shared that he did have discussions with WWE “through intermediaries” about returning to the company, but he was not happy about how those negotiations went.
“I remember one of the first things I ever said to them was, ‘Above all, don’t play games.’ And they played games. Some things never change… When you enter a conversation with people you have a past with and you know who they are, how seriously can you take it? I know exactly who they are and they just continue to prove it. I’m trying to be as diplomatic as I possibly can.”
Even though Punk did not sign with WWE, he did work on the WWE Backstage show on Fox Sports 1 in 2019 although that was a contract with Fox, not with WWE itself.
In the past, Punk talked about how he could have returned to wrestling for a “stupid amount of money” although he never mentioned a specific amount he was thinking about when he said that in December 2020. Punk made it clear that his AEW deal isn’t just about the money. If it was only about money to him then he could have returned at a major WWE event like WrestleMania or the Royal Rumble as a surprise entrant. Punk explained himself further:
“What I mean is, it’s not all about the money for me. Because if it was, I would have probably been the main event of WrestleMania this past year. Or I would have been at the Royal Rumble. Everybody is different. Every situation is different. There’s some people that don’t like me, so all they’re going to hear is ‘Oh, he’s just doing it for the money.’ And I could give a s—.”
“The proof is in the pudding. Does it matter why I’m doing it? Do you really care? If you don’t like me, don’t watch. It’s a perfect storm. It’s a lot of everything. It’s the money, it’s the freedom. It’s the creative, and it’s the possibility of working with young, talented people that excite me.”
This Sunday, September 5 at AEW All Out, Punk will face Darby Allin at All Out in what could be the main event of the show. All Out takes place in Chicago just like this past Wednesday’s Dynamite and tonight’s episode of AEW Rampage as well.
Punk’s match at All Out will be his first professional wrestling match since that Royal Rumble 2014 appearance over seven years ago.