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CM Punk Was Backstage at WWE RAW Ahead of His Expected AEW Return: Report

Wrestling legend CM Punk was reportedly backstage before the live broadcast of WWE RAW in Chicago Monday (April 25) night ahead of his expected return to All Elite Wrestling, according to multiple reports.

PWInsider's Mike Johnson reported that Punk was in Florida doing commentary for Cage Fury Fighting Championships over the weekend and was on a flight back to his hometown with several WWE wrestlers and a producer before deciding to show up at Allstate Arena. The former WWE champion was reported to have made amends with WWE superstar The Miz and spoke with former WWE wrestler turned executive Paul 'Triple H' Levesque, both of whom he'd publicly criticized in the past.

Punk was reported to have shaken hands with Levesque and asked if the two could speak privately before Levesque said he had to check with executive chairman Vince McMahon, who was working remotely. Punk was later told by WWE security that "he wasn't going to be allowed to remain and he exited," according to Johnson; One source told PWInsider that they believed the legendary wrestler "was asked to leave because he was under an AEW contract," though another source pointed out that three former WWE superstars under currently contract with AEW, Malakai Black, Buddy Matthews and Andrade, recently attended the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony with their spouses who work for the company.

Punk's reported appearance comes amid multiple reports that he's expected to return to AEW in June for a speculated new television program. The company had recently trademarked "Collision" ahead of reports that it was adding a third WarnerMedia program to go with Dynamite on TBS and Rampage on TNT.

Earlier this month, Punk's close friend and colleague Dax Harwood of the AEW Tag-Team champions FTR claimed the 44-year-old "misses wrestling" and "wants to come back to AEW on his former FTR with Dax Harwood podcast.

"I talk to Punk almost every day, and Punk misses wrestling, that’s your headline, Punk misses wrestling, and Punk wants to come back. And he wants to give back to the fans, he wants to get back to wrestling. So I’ll leave it at that," Harwood said during the latest episode of his FTR with Dax Harwood podcast.

Harwood also pitched for a match involving himself, tag-team partner Cash Wheeler and Punk against The Elite (Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson), the latter of whom were reportedly involved in the now-infamous backstage skirmish with Punk after the All Out pay-per-view last September, at the upcoming All In pay-per-view at Wembley Stadium, which will not only be AEW's first show in England, but also its largest capacity venue since its launch in 2019.

I will say this the reason I’m fantasy booking that is because outside of [WWE Undisputed World Champion] Roman Reigns and — you please correct me if I’m wrong, outside of Roman Reigns and maybe, this is not including like Brock Lesnar, or Logan Paul or whatever. But outside of Roman Reigns and maybe Cody Rhodes — the biggest name in professional wrestling right now is CM Punk. Right? Definitely the biggest name in AEW.

“So if we want — if we want to take AEW to the next level, if we’re here to work for AEW, if we’re here to make professional wrestling better because of AEW? The way you do that is you take the biggest star that you have, and one of the biggest stars in the world, and you put them on the card, and you make money with them."

Fightful's Sean Ross Sapp reported that Punk recently told AEW officials that he wants to return and was willing to work with Omega and the Young Bucks "at least as of a few months ago." Sapp acknowledged that the Elite members' preference in relation to Punk hasn't been made public.

Several other top AEW stars, such as former world champions Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley, have publicly voiced their displeasure in bringing Punk back.

Punk reportedly put "on ice" by AEW CEO, President, General Manager and Head of Creative Tony Khan, Wrestling Observer's Dave Meltzer reported in January. The report came several months after Punk went on a tirade during his post-All Out media scrum prior to a physical altercation, which launched an investigation into the incident and was later reported to have suffered a torn pectoral injury during his match that same night.

Punk, who had won the AEW World Championship in the main event match of All Out, accused "irresponsible people who call themselves EVPs" of "spreading lies" and leaking information that he had falsely gotten his former best friend Scott 'Colt Cabana' Colton "fired," while also referring to former AEW Champion 'Hangman' Adam Page -- a longtime friend of Colton and The Elite, the EVPs in question -- as "an empty headed f*****g dumb f***" for going "out on national television and f*****g go into business for himself" during a promo opposite Punk ahead of their title match at Double or Nothing in May 2022.

The comments led to a reported physical altercation involving himself, his original wrestling trainer Ace Steel -- who then-served as an AEW backstage producer at the time -- and the Elite, who had won the inaugural AEW World Trios titles earlier in the night.

Steel was reportedly fired for his role in the skirmish in October, Meltzer reported at the time.

Other individuals suspended in relation to the incident that have since returned to their television and/or backstage roles included:

  • Kenny Omega
  • Matt Jackson
  • Nick Jackson
  • Ace Steel
  • Pat Buck
  • Christopher Daniels
  • Michael Nakazawa
  • Brandon Cutler

Punk had previously experienced a foot injury in May, which caused him to vacate the AEW World Heavyweight championship days after his victory. The 43-year-old returned from injury in September 2021.

Punk defeated Moxley during All Out's main event before a returning Maxwell Jacob Friedman revealed himself to be the disguised 'Joker' entrant in a ladder match won earlier in the night to earn a title shot, teasing another feud with Punk as the show went off-air.

AEW then announced a tournament to decide the new World Heavyweight Champion the following night, which was won by Moxley on the September 21 episode of Dynamite, who later lost the title to Friedman at Full Gear.

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