CM Punk Photo: WWE

It’s been more than a week since AEW fired CM Punk and it still remains to be seen what’s next for the “Straight Edge Superstar.”

One scenario that’s been heavily discussed is the possibility of Punk returning to WWE, where he first became one of pro wrestling’s biggest stars during his run with the company from 2005-2014.

Speaking to ESPN’s Marc Raimondi on the same day WWE completed its merger with UFC’s parent company, Endeavor, to form the TKO Group Holdings, WWE President Nick Khan was asked about the possibility of Punk returning to the company. And while Khan didn’t confirm or deny the possibility, he had nothing but praise for Punk (whose real name is Phil Brooks).

“Listen, we only have respect for Phil,” Khan said, per Raimondi. “We appreciate his run here. We appreciate what he did and tried to do in UFC. Not many people can actually get in there and do what he did. So, when we have respect for Phil, we wish him nothing but the best.”

It also remains unclear whether Punk would be able to sign with WWE immediately or whether he faces any type of non-compete clause after being fired by AEW for cause following a reported backstage altercation with “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry at the AEW: All In pay-per-view show in London last month. After leaving WWE on rocky terms in January 2014, Punk competed in two UFC fights — officially amassing an 0-1 record with one no contest — before returning to pro wrestling by signing with AEW in 2021.

While CM Punk’s AEW run got off to a strong start, it was later derailed by injuries and backstage issues — and another reported backstage physical altercation — with the company’s executive vice presidents and wrestlers Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson). Punk’s most recent match came on Aug. 27, 2023, when he defeated Samoa Joe shortly after the alleged altercation with Perry that resulted in his firing.

[Marc Raimondi on X]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.