On Tuesday night’s episode of WWE Backstage, the wrestling world was stunned to see former WWE Champion CM Punk make an appearance. Dustin takes a look at the deal that brought Punk back into the WWE Universe.
When Living Colour’s ‘Cult of Personality’ hit at the end of this week’s WWE Backstage on FS1, I, along with millions of wrestling fans around the world, was completely stunned. Rumors had been rampant that CM Punk was being considered for a position on the show, a broadcast dedicated to continuing to legitimize WWE as on the same level as other Fox Network Sports like the NFL and MLB but after a few weeks of silence, they seemed to be forgotten.
Punk’s appearance at the end of the episode was short, sweet and to the point:
Immediately after the show went off the air, FS1 & WWE on Fox offered a bit more insight about what Punk’s role will be on the show going forward:
-Punk will periodically appear on the show as an analyst alongside Renee Young and Booker T along with other guests.
-Punk’s contract is with Fox and NOT with WWE, though WWE did have to sign off on the deal.
-There are no plans for Punk to appear on any WWE programming outside of WWE Backstage.
Now, even though it’s clear that Punk is tied more closely with Fox than WWE, the fact that he’s even in their orbit again is an extremely shocking development. Since leaving the company suddenly at a time where he was one of their biggest stars, there have been endless shots fired between both sides including multiple lawsuits, a firing on Punk’s wedding day and plenty of trolling and insults that seemed to indicate Punk would never be coming back.
Punk himself has said he doesn’t keep up with the product at all so it’s going to be interesting to see how much he immerses himself in this new position where he’s expected to offer analysis and breakdowns on current storylines, characters, and more. Part of what has made him so popular with fans, even years after his departure, was his willingness to speak his mind on the state of the company and the powers that be. The fact that now he’s being put in a position where his comments on the company are going to seemingly be without consequence/encouraged by FS1, it will be extremely interesting to see how it all plays out.
That Fox, FS1 and WWE would swing for the fences by bringing Punk back into the fold isn’t all that surprising either. WWE Backstage has not been off to a hot start since it debuted a few weeks back, with extremely low ratings in the crucial 18-34 demographic. With Fox paying billions to air Smackdown, they need everything to be successful to justify investing so much in wrestling, while WWE needs it to succeed to further legitimize themselves in the eyes of their fans and sports fans in general. Snagging CM Punk and being able to advertise him with a live mic, commenting on the current state of WWE broadcasting is a major coup that should help generate buzz across both the die-hard fanbases as well as casual sports fans familiar with the name CM Punk.
While it would be easy to get carried away and start fantasy booking CM Punk into matches against the likes of Seth Rollins, Adam Cole or A.J. Styles, to do that would be failing to enjoy this signing to its’ full extent.
Hearing ‘Cult of Personality’ on WWE programming and seeing CM Punk, smiling and seemingly happy to be back and on the broadcast, is a sight that not many would’ve ever predicted. Yet, here we are. Punk is advertised for next week’s show and then scheduled to appear periodically after that.
CM Punk is one of the most popular superstars from the last 20 years in WWE and Fox is hoping that this signing will help move the needle. But those fans that will be tuning in aren’t concerned with things like contracts, rumors or ratings.
They’re just happy to see him.