Professional Wrestling, Sports Entertainment, whatever you want to call it, coming into 2021 the industry has been pretty stagnant for some time in my opinion. World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) had been without any real competition for a significant period and the problem when you have no competition is that it removes the need to be better, to improve.
That changed on August 20, 2021.
Phil Brooks (aka CM Punk) isn’t your typical professional wrestler. He isn’t a larger-than-life person, he isn’t bench pressing 600 lbs, he’s not 6’7, in fact he’s a normal looking guy but what makes him unique in the ‘rassling’ world is he is extremely marketable. Whether he is delivering one of his infamous promos on the mic or showcasing his great talent in the ring he has been a fan favourite for years. After a dispute with WWE’s creative and his lack of desire to remain he walked away from the WWE seven years ago. He had a brief stint in the UFC and while that venture wasn’t successful his popularity among wrestling fans never dwindled.
That brings us to the worst kept secret in the wrestling world this past summer…CM Punk was coming back…but to All Elite Wrestling (AEW) a formidable competitor for WWE.
On Friday August 20th the tweets started going out. Even the CEO of AEW, Tony Khan (who also co-owns the Jacksonville Jaguars and Fulham FC) was building anticipation for the much-awaited return.
When his theme music hit at the United Centre (Living Color’s Cult of Personality) the capacity crowd became unglued. The thunderous applause overcame the arena and people in the crowd were in tears. Yes, I realize we are talking about wrestling but that speaks to the loyalty and following CM Punk has amassed.
And when the cheering finally subsided, and CM Punk addressed the crowd he showed that as the fans like to chant ‘He’s still got it’
Vince McMahon and WWE were hosting SummerSlam that very weekend and to compete with the return of CM Punk they brought back Brock Lesnar and Becky Lynch that weekend, but that weekend belonged to AEW.
As someone who wasn’t watching as much wrestling as I used to, the arrival of CM Punk changed that.
Now I wouldn’t write off WWE just yet. They are still the proven leader but AEW, with its fantastic roster of superstars, now is a viable alternative for people looking for something different than what the WWE offers, ie. Roman Reigns wins…again.
CM Punk’s emergence in AEW has given the opportunity for other superstars to shine and become well known amongst wrestling fans.
CM Punk has rejuvenated a lot of people’s interest in wrestling and has put WWE on notice that for the first time in years they have a legit competitor. He knows that he is part of a team but also knows that he is a captain and wants to help his company succeed.
CM Punk has sparked excitement into an industry that desperately needed it and that is why I find him fascinating.