By Chuck Carroll
Will CM Punk wrestle again? It’s a question being asked repeatedly after the former world champion was victorious this week in a defamation lawsuit filed against him by a WWE physician. Doctor Christopher Amann sued Punk, whose real name is Phil Brooks, for claims made by the ex-wrestler during a 2014 podcast hosted by another former WWE wrestler, Colt Cabana. Cabana, who was also named in the lawsuit, was likewise cleared by jurors.
Punk hasn’t set foot inside of a wrestling ring since his abrupt departure from the company more than four years ago. He’s opted instead to pursue a career in mixed martial arts and will fight in UFC for a second time Saturday night. Unlike his first fight in 2016, in which he calmly walked to the octagon before being thoroughly dominated, the 39-year-old says he’s already feeling butterflies this go-around. Perhaps it’s because he’ll be fighting in his hometown of Chicago. It could also be that he feels pressure to win, as another loss will almost certainly end any chance he has of remaining in UFC. Following the underwhelming showing two years ago, he faced long odds just to get this fight.
Then there is the question of whether he would even want to fight again regardless of Saturday’s outcome. In an interview with MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani, Punk said he hasn’t made a decision, but appeared open to the idea, even if it meant doing so for a rival company should his UFC record drop to 0-2.
>>MORE: Pro Wrestling Coverage
But what about wrestling? There has been speculation that he would lace up his boots once again in September at the mega All In show promoted by Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks, which is also Chi-Town. Punk already has an autograph signing lined up that weekend that coincides with the event. So could a return match be that much of a stretch? According to Punk, don’t hold your breath.
“Nobody has ever straight up asked me to come wrestle for them,” he told Helwani.
However, Punk says that various people have reached out to gauge his interest about a potential return. But all of the discussions were filled with ifs and maybes that stopped far short of a concrete offer.
“Nobody’s ever been like ‘Hey, here’s the deal. We’re having a show, we’re gonna pay you X amount and you’re working this guy. What do you say? Yes, or no?’” he said. “Nobody’s ever done that. Everybody’s always been like, ‘Hey, if you want to ever maybe do something.’ And to me that’s absolutely not an offer.”
That includes the much-hyped All In card on September 1.
The possibility remains that a promotion such as Ring of Honor could extend an official offer to lure him back to the ring. Returning to the company that helped launch him into pro wrestling superstardom would certainly make for a splashy headline, and it’s not something Punk is ready to rule out completely.
“I don’t think so. But it’s a hard question to answer,” he replied when asked about receiving a firm offer to return to wrestling from any promotion. “I could definitely tell you, if you asked me that question a week ago … the answer would have been no, I don’t want anything to do with it. I feel like I’m out, and the future is yet to be written. It’s a wide-open book, and it’s my story to tell.”
The answer offers a glimmer of hope to longtime fans wanting to see him deliver another GTS off the top rope.
“I’m always probably honest to a fault. I’m not gonna sit here and be like, ‘No, no’,” he continued. “Something might come up. Some fun might be had.”
For now, Punk said he can’t see the sun coming up Sunday morning yet. He’s 100 percent focused on his fight against Mike Jackson and not allowing himself to look beyond Saturday night. Stay tuned.
NEWS & NOTES
WWE has named British wrestling icon Johnny Saint as the general manager of the forthcoming United Kingdom brand.
WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels told Sky Sports that he’s open to returning for one final match. Until now, the 52-year-old Heartbreak Kid had remained steadfast that his days in the ring were done.
WWE’s stock has risen by more than 104% so far this year on the strength of the new television rights deals as well as strong earnings reports.
If you’re keeping track, John Cena and Nikki Bella are reportedly back together again, according to multiple reports.
Chuck Carroll is a former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality who now interviews the biggest names in wrestling. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.
Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.