On July 8th, Samoa Joe and CM Punk faced each other for their first singles match in over 18 years.
Fast-forward to 2023, and the two found themselves across the ring from each other in AEW, a promotion that didn’t even exist the last time they met.
The two were vying for a place in the finals of the Owen Hart Foundation Cup on Collision, and on this occasion, it was Punk who got the victory, the first time he had been able to overcome the Samoan Submission Machine one-on-one.
During an appearance on the Under The Ring podcast, Joe was asked if he had expected to wrestle against Punk again. The ROH World TV Champion claimed that it was “no big surprise” because that’s the way his career tended to go.
“It’s really to be expected. I’ve found that throughout my career, the same cast of characters pop up. Punk is definitely in that realm of those cast of characters. To see us back in the ring against each other one more time, it’s no big surprise.”
When it comes to the difference between their first match in 2003 and their latest, Joe says it’s all about experience.
“Just experience, a treasure trove of experience. When we first locked up, we were very new in the industry and still very much a journeyman learning. You never stop learning, but at the same time, we definitely knew a hell of a lot less back then.”
While Punk won their latest encounter, Joe got the last laugh. After offering a handshake, he grabbed the former AEW World Champion and locked him in a Coquina Clutch, yelling Punk was “never better than him.”
While the attack was broken up by FTR, it seems likely that the rivalry is far from over.
H/T to Fightful for the above transcription.