Having last appeared for AEW at All Out on September 4th, a major update has now emerged regarding the contractual status of CM Punk.
CM Punk hasn’t appeared for All Elite Wrestling since September 4th, headlining All Out as he won his second AEW World Championship from Jon Moxley and subsequently being confronted by a returning MJF. However, it’s his involvement in the post-show media scrum that soured many fans’ opinions of him.
Involved in a scuffle with Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, Ace Steel, and several others, CM Punk was suspended from AEW as a direct result and stripped of the AEW World Championship. He’s remained absent since, though he’s also nursing an arm injury, and is reported to likely be on his way out of the organisation.
Writing in this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer addressed how despite AEW and Punk holding talks, it was “doubtful” that he would ever return. Allegedly, these talks are with regard to a potential buyout of his contract.
As Meltzer writes, the major issue surrounding the situation is in relation to a non-compete clause. Given that only WWE and AEW would be able to pay CM Punk the amount he desires, there would be no need for such a clause if there was no interest from Punk in returning to WWE and vice versa:
“There are those in WWE who have been very negative towards him in the past, but it is a wrestling war and the optics of looking publicly like they have taken Punk from AEW would be very significant. HHH’s whole game right now is about surprise debuts and Punk would be the biggest possible for him to bring in for impact. There is the flip side to this of course and there’s no lock WWE would take him since when FOX pushed them to take him, they didn’t. But they likely underestimated how much he’d been to the fan base as his AEW debut showed.
One hold up on the buy out is the non-complete, but that’s really a moot point because even with a six-month non-compete, Punk wouldn’t be ready to return until the non-compete is over. However, the idea of Punk being released this week and being on WWE television just for appearances before he can wrestle would look like a huge coup for WWE over the next few weeks, especially with AEW not nearly as hot when it comes to things like ticket selling and streaming. Both AEW and Punk didn’t comment, nor deny this.”
Dave Meltzer believes there has been no reaching out from WWE to CM Punk as of this writing, though Punk does have some close contacts in the company, including on-screen authority figure Adam Pearce. If he were to return to WWE, it would mark his first official appearance since the 2014 Royal Rumble.