Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few days (and given the near-global heatwave, we can’t blame you), you will be familiar with the news regarding former WWE Champion, CM Punk. Though nothing is publicly confirmed, there is plenty of evidence to suggest CM Punk is AEW bound and that for the first time in over seven years, we might be nearing a time when CM Punk returns to a wrestling ring. Of course, Punk is the biggest free agent in professional wrestling – alongside Bryan Danielson, who also appears to be AEW bound – and Punk rumors regarding in-ring returns have always been enough to send the wrestling fandom into a frenzy. Therefore, it is no surprise that this story has dominated wrestling news sites over the past few days. Whereas we have refrained from reporting this news as it is unconfirmed, there is definitely reason to suggest he is heading to the Tony Khan headed company and, therefore, we see it fit to look at some of the potential adversaries to a returning CM Punk. Let’s begin.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. It goes without saying that, right now, Kenny Omega is the biggest star in All Elite Wrestling. The former top gaijin in New Japan Pro Wrestling, Omega has now cemented himself as the figurehead of AEW. The reigning, defending AEW World Champion – literally across the world, with the “Forbidden Door” having been opened within AEW – Omega’s reign is bringing a sense of world-expanding excitement not seen in a long, long time. It is, therefore, a certainty that should CM Punk sign with AEW, a match with Kenny Omega is a must. Back in April, in an interview with Uproxx, Punk had this to say about the possibility of a match with Omega:
“There’s also the business side of things. What’s the biggest possible match for CM Punk? I think there’s Kenny Omega on the one side.”
Whereas the quote is certainly not confirmation of a future match, it means Punk is aware of the mouth-watering prospect of a match with the “Best Bout Machine”. Therefore, should he join, this match is a certainty. Whereas Kenny is no match for Punk on the microphone, the addition of Don Callis will help Omega greatly and if Punk still maintains his in-ring ability after so long away, the matches will be spectacles.
Whereas Kenny Omega might struggle on the microphone against CM Punk, Eddie Kingston certainly would not. In fact, if you check through Twitter, you might notice that Punk vs Kingston is a bit of a dream feud for many AEW fans. Kingston, whilst a solid wrestler in his own right, has truly established himself as one of the best talkers in the game today. In fact, his style of promo is most often compared to Punk himself – high praise indeed. If there is anyone in the company who could potentially out-talk Punk, it is Kingston. Of course, Kingston is currently a babyface aligned with Death Triangle (PAC, Pentagon Jr. and Rey Fenix) and Jon Moxley, so for this to make sense, Punk might need to debut as a heel. With how popular he is and the prospect of a future match with Kenny Omega, this is unlikely to happen. However, if they can make a feud between Kingston and Punk somewhere down the road, it is sure to be a success.
Death Triangle (Pentagon Jr., PAC and Rey Fenix)
PAC and CM Punk have, oddly, never crossed paths. They completely missed each other on the independent circuit and just as PAC, then Adrian Neville, was making a name for himself in WWE NXT, Punk was out of the door. This is a match which could work and as PAC has become something of a safe hand on the microphone, the feud, overall, would be very fun. The choice of the three to face Punk, however, is Pentagon Jr. Pentagon’s charisma is, simply, off the charts. He is someone so good on the microphone and so naturally over with audiences that it does not necessarily matter that English is not his natural language. Even when he cuts promos in Spanish, monolingual, non-Spanish speaking audiences still feel what the promos mean through his intensity, body language and overall delivery. Additionally, he is a ring general himself and should CM Punk be rusty, Penta is absolutely someone who can bring some of his best back out of him. However, Rey Fenix and Punk does not work; the sight of Punk trying to keep up with the high flyer is simply too much to bare. So: no to Fenix, maybe to PAC and absolutely yes to Penta.
Maxwell Jacob Friedman
Another obvious choice is Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF). Whereas many compare MJF to Punk, he is really quite different. Similarly vicious on the microphone, but his character and entire style of work is not the same. However, the dynamic of an older Punk working with the hot, young up-and-comer with no respect for his elders certainly works. MJF is not someone who wants to be the best; he already thinks he’s the best. He is better than you, and he knows it, etc. He will think he is better than a man who claimed a decade ago that he is the best wrestler in the world and much like he has been doing with Chris Jericho, he will attempt to prove his superiority by any means necessary; disrespectfully tormenting anyone who stands in his way, no matter their legend status. Punk will be no different and much like with Kingston, the promo war between these two would be golden. If Punk were to ever want to pass the torch onto someone, it might very well be to someone like MJF.
A less obvious choice is Darby Allin, who is one of the biggest babyfaces in the company today. There have been many comparisons between Darby Allin and one Jeff Hardy who was, long ago, CM Punk’s biggest rival in the WWE. The brilliant dynamic that they once shared – Jeff Hardy and CM Punk being one of the best WWE feuds of the PG Era – might work similarly between Darby and Punk. If Punk has lost a step or two in the years away from the ring, Darby Allin might be someone – as a smaller, more energetic worker – who can bring the best out of Punk. Whereas Darby might not be the best talker around, the addition of Sting helps greatly; he might be someone, as one of the most senior veterans, who can go toe-to-toe with Punk in that aspect. In-ring, though, Darby will do the talking and if they can somehow work CM Punk as the heel antagonist to Darby, this is a feud and match which though not one as obvious as the others, might be as effective.
Hangman Adam Page
Lastly, we have Adam Page. Page is someone clearly, and rightfully, being positioned as the potential guy to end Kenny Omega’s dominant reign as AEW World Champion. Former friend tuned foe, nobody knows Omega better than his former AEW Tag Team Championship winning partner, Adam Page. He is very likely to be the face of the company in the near future; possessing the ultimate blend of look, in-ring ability, overness and natural likability. He is also a babyface known for enjoying the occasional alcoholic beverage, or two, or three, or four. Should CM Punk return as the top heel in AEW; as a sadistic Straight Edge character or go down that path sometime in the future, there is no better opponent for him than the babyface Adam Page. It would be precisely what Page needs to reach the next level and precisely what Punk needs in a babyface opponent. Whilst not everybody’s first choice of a feud for Punk, it has the potential to be one of the better ones and absolutely writes itself.
Who would you like to see CM Punk face in AEW? Did we miss anyone? Feel free to let us know in the comment section!
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