For months, fans have been hoping for CM Punk to return to WWE. However, it appears that the wrestler’s time with the company is done, exactly three years after he won his first ever WWE championship.
According to multiple reports, Punk’s contract with WWE officially came to an end on Thursday. Punk hadn’t appeared on WWE television since January, and he’s finally been moved to the alumni page of wwe.com. Both sides have been quiet about Punk’s departure, but the former WWE superstar seemed to address the situation with a tweet on Tuesday.
“Nope, thank YOU. Thanks for all the help and support through the years. Health and happiness above all. Don't ever take any s--- from anybody,” Punk said on Twitter.
Punk quit WWE after the 2014 Royal Rumble, where he wrestled his last match. Rumors began to run rampant that he was unhappy with the creative direction of WWE, including the decision to put him in a match against Triple H at WrestleMania 30. Injuries likely also played a major role in Punk leaving.
On multiple occasions, there were rumors that Punk might return, most notably when “Monday Night Raw” was held in his hometown of Chicago on March 3. Punk’s music played to begin the show, but out walked manager Paul Heyman, and the two-time WWE champ was nowhere to be found. Recently, the return of Punk’s wife, AJ Lee, to WWE TV had sparked speculation that he might not be far behind. Now, it’s unknown if Punk will ever step inside the squared circle again.
If history is an indicator, Punk will be back eventually. Stone Cold Steve Austin walked out on WWE in June 2002, but returned in time for the next WrestleMania. Chris Jericho took some time off in 2005, but was back by 2007. An injury forced Shawn Michaels to retire in 1998, but he made his comeback in 2002, and went on to wrestle for eight more years. Even The Rock came back to wrestling, despite becoming one of the biggest stars in Hollywood.
While most wrestlers have a hard time staying away from the ring, Punk could end up being the one that does not return. He was dangerously close to leaving WWE in 2011, and has stated on multiple occasions that he’d retire earlier than most would expect him to call it a career.
During his nearly eight-year run with WWE, Punk was arguably the best performer in the company. His famous “worked shoot” promo on June 27, 2011 brought him mainstream attention like few wrestlers have received, and he owns one of the longest title reigns in WWE history, holding the belt for 434 days. Other than John Cena, he was WWE’s biggest star at the time of his departure.
At just 35 years old, Punk has plenty of time to make a comeback. His return would be one of the biggest in WWE history, and it’s hard to imagine that Vince McMahon would not welcome him with open arms, despite the way he abruptly quit.
Even if Punk never has the desire to take on WWE’s grueling full-time schedule, he might have the opportunity to wrestle in a part-time capacity. Wrestlers like Jericho, Rob Van Dam and Batista have returned to WWE for stints that lasted just a few months, while The Rock and Brock Lesnar have been paid to wrestle just a handful of matches.
Fans continue to hope that the Chicago native will return soon, and “CM Punk” chants can be heard on most episodes of “Raw.” The man himself, though, has given no indication that he’ll be coming back any time soon, and it could be a long time before Punk is seen in WWE.