It’s been just over four years since CM Punk walked out on WWE, promising never to return to the world of professional wrestling ever again. But, here we sit in 2018, not only speculating just that but also unable to stop talking about the “Best in the World” period. And for once, it has nothing to do with lamenting the “CM Punk” chants, which for four years have rung out throughout arenas worldwide.
Remember what @CMPunk said to The Rock after the Royal Rumble 2013…. “For 434 days I was a real champion”…. indeed he was. A lot of you took it for granted and now we have a part timer surpassing that
— 434 ?? (@434Mania) May 11, 2018
Some fans believe it’s a bogus record to begin with, after all, what exactly qualifies as the modern era, of which CM Punk is the longest reigning champion? Then there’s the question of the belts themselves, since to many, the Universal Championship still doesn’t seem to be regarded as a world title along the same caliber of the WWE Championship.
What’s that saying about the man making the title…
Putting aside the legitimacy of 434, for a little over a month, as soon as it became painfully obvious that Brock Lesnar was going to break CM Punk’s record, fans started talking about the former champion and the major discrepancies between the two. For starters, the number of defenses. House shows aside (Punk defended at 110 compared to four for Lesnar), Punk holds the edge in title defenses, 21 to 6. Let that sink in.
A better look at the comparison between the reign of CM Punk as WWE Champion and Brock Lesnar as WWE Universal Champion
— ハングマン (@xRobsonHD) May 9, 2018
Even if Lesnar were to defend the Universal Championship at Money in the Bank in June, which he is currently not scheduled to do, he’ll have passed Punk’s 434-day reign by just under a week (440 days). So assuming Lesnar will be credited with just six defenses in that amount of time, that’s approximately 73 days or two-and-a-half months between defenses. Punk meanwhile, defended the title nine times on Smackdown/Raw alone. During his reign as champion, he defended at practically every PPV and more importantly was a part of the episodic programming week in and week out.
Shy of a huge swerve, Lesnar will soon be credited as the longest reigning modern-day champion, despite showing up for work fewer dates than Punk had title defenses. Of course, getting Punk’s name off the record books, regardless of if the record is real or not, is something WWE will be happy to do. It wasn’t long ago that the same was done with Punk’s wife, AJ Lee, who saw her longest reigning Divas Championship reign ended by Nikki Bella, only for Bella to drop the title at the earliest possible chance.
CM Punk: 434 Days and 135 Matches
Broke Lesnar: 402 days and 15 Matches
Who is the real champion huh?
THE BEST IN THE WORLD pic.twitter.com/9SAJlRctry
— Lily ♡ (@NicoleNBrieFan) May 9, 2018
Lesnar approaching the record has led to Punk’s name as well as the merits of what he did as champion, being on the forefront of people’s minds. While WWE won’t dare mention him, fans certainly have and have taken to social media to lament the choice to have Lesnar break the record. Despite not having been on the roster in four years, an argument can be made that among the fans, Punk is one of the most relevant and talked about superstars currently. And it’s not just in WWE.
Hey @WWE @TripleH, CM Punk fights in the Octagon on June 9th, 2018 which by my math is exactly 434 days from Wrestlemania 33. Glad to see the next time this man fights, his name is erased from the WWE history books
— Don’t sit here (@TheSeatsTaken) May 9, 2018
Perhaps the irony to end all ironies is what @TheSeatsTaken pointed out in the above tweet. Day 434 for Brock Lesnar will also be the date of UFC 225. And by the time that card goes off the air, Lesnar will be in the midst of day 435, officially breaking CM Punk’s record and giving WWE no reason to have to say the man’s name again.
The grand irony aside, UFC 225 and Punk’s bout with Mike Jackson, is another reason that fans can’t stop talking about the man. There are of course those who will buy the PPV on his name value alone, whether it’s to cheer him on or hope for another embarrassing loss. Either way, with the card less than a month away, expect to hear a lot more about Punk in the coming weeks.
Our special guest appearing Aug 31st, 2018 at the Pro Wrestling Tees retail store in Chicago, IL will be CM Punk. Limited meet & greet tickets go on sale May 23rd at 12pm ct. Visit our retail store events page on ProWrestlingTees or our Facebook event for details. @CMPunk pic.twitter.com/RqTu8G0RPO
— OneHourTees (@OneHourTees) May 11, 2018
Finally, there’s All In, the Cody Rhodes/Young Bucks self-financed indy mega show, which just so happens to be taking place in Chicago.
While no one can know for sure, the fact that CM Punk was announced to be doing a meet-and-greet at Pro Wrestling Tees as part of the All In festivities, could have been part of the reason why All In sold out 10,000 tickets in under an hour (29 minutes and 36 seconds to be exact). Even if Punk doesn’t appear on the show, just the realistic notion that he might, at the very least, certainly didn’t hurt ticket sales.
The thought of Punk returning to wrestling is one that has a good deal of fans foaming at the mouth, especially those who never wanted him to leave in the first place.
I think Cody getting CM Punk sort of involved in wrestling again is the biggest heel move of his career so far. My heart won't be able to take it if he doesn't do something at All In.
— Jack G. King (@JackTheJobber) May 11, 2018
After Punk’s first failed UFC fight, fans began to speculate on such a return citing Ring of Honor or New Japan Pro Wrestling as likely landing places. Of course, there were always the WWE rumors too – big PPV events in Chicago, Royal Rumble, etc. No matter the case, fans seemed to have workable theories for how Punk could come back with fantasy booking scenarios that seemed the stuff of dreams.
At this point, with All In already sold out, there is no reason for Cody and the Young Bucks to confirm any sort of CM Punk appearance at the event itself. At this point, if he is to be on the card or involved in any capacity, it should be kept secretive. Keep in mind, even just doing a wrestling-related meet-and-greet is something of a rarity for Punk as it will be his first wrestling-related appearance since leaving WWE four years ago. If he follows that up with an in-ring appearance, perhaps against Kenny Omega, it will break the internet.
CM Punk vs Kenny Omega in a Last Man Standing match would be my dream main event for All IN. pic.twitter.com/htJVEG19Lr
— Rich (@RxchardClub) May 11, 2018
That’s because to some, CM Punk is something of a cult hero, a guy who spoke his mind against the McMachine and walked away after feeling years of disrespect. Those fans are the ones who will cite the Colt Cabana podcast with regularity, the ones who popularized a hashtag, #PunkWasRight, to talk about all of the things going on with the current product that Punk, like a modern-day Nostradamus, had forewarned about. Those fans have never stopped wanting him to come back and every time WWE rolls through Chicago, hold onto hope that he’ll make a shocking, jaw-dropping return.
Then there are those who would rather vilify Punk and call him a crybaby. Those are the fans who are glad he left and who could care less if he ever returns. They are the same fans who regard Punk less for the 434 number and more for 2:14, the amount of time before Punk tapped out in his UFC debut.
Either way, he’s a guy people have never really stopped talking about and from the looks of it, never really will.