Has the WWE Changed Its Stance on CM Punk Returning?

On this day 6 years ago, CM Punk beat John Cena for his first WWE Championship in front of a rabid Chicago crowd. With his contract set to expire, Punk made a dramatic exit through the crowd, giving fans one of the best moments in wrestling history.

In a recent edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer made the bold claim that WWE may be warming up to the idea of someday inviting CM Punk back into the company’s fold.

Meltzer talked about how some people will leave the company on horrible terms but most end up returning. Meltzer wrote, “That’s why, no matter what is said, WWE wants C.M. Punk back and even though Punk was adamant about never doing it, history tells you time heals a lot of wounds.”

CM Punk's road to the top of the WWE was a challenging one. Not only did he have to break through the "indie darling" glass ceiling, but according to recent reports, the Straight Edge Superstar apparently also had to hurdle the fact that Vince McMahon didn't quite understand his gimmick.

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Punk left the world of professional wrestling back in 2014, ending a decade-long career in the WWE. He departed the company citing illness and dissatisfaction with those beind the scenes, blasting his former employers on social media and choosing to pursue a career in MMA.

It's a well known fact that Punk still has a tenuous relationship with the McMahon family, especially Stephanie McMahon. However, Stephanie's husband Triple H and RAW General Manager Kurt Angle could be key figures in any possible future return by the former WWE champion.

Bruno Sammartino and WWE were at odds since the early 1990’s after Sammartino spoke out about the company during the steroid scandal. But Triple H was the one who reached out to Sammartino to bring him back into the company. Likewise, The Ultimate Warrior and Vince McMahon were considered to be bitter enemies for over a decade before Triple H reached out to Warrior to mend fences. In fact, it was Triple H who got the wheels in motion to bring Kurt Angle back to the company, after a decade-long absence spent wrestling for the competition in TNA.

Recently, Kurt Angle participated in an interactive Q&A session on his Facebook page. When one fan asked what the future holds for CM Punk with regard to a return to professional wrestling and his current MMA career, the Olympic Gold Medalist and current WWE RAW GM had to say about him: "I hope he comes back. I think his MMA career is over. He needs to go back to what he does best!"

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One reason CM Punk’s return will not be happen anytime soon is his involvement in an ongoing defamation lawsuit filed by WWE doctor Chris Armann against the former WWE Champion and Colt Cabana. His wife, former WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee also recently claimed while promoting her book that her husband has no desire to return to the squared circle-- more so one that WWE owns.

Considering Punk's tumultuous relationship with the WWE, we may just as likely see him align with another company were he ever to return to wrestling. When asked in a Sports Illustrated interview last year if he would be open to returning to the ring in a promotion like New Japan Pro Wrestling or Ring of Honor, he implied that was more of a possibility than rejoining WWE. But mostly he left the matter in vague terms of "never say never."

As for Kurt Angle, he's set to make a big announcement on tonight's RAW that many speculated could spell a return to in-ring action for the GM, but may actually involve former TNA chairwoman Dixie Carter. Either outcome would make the case that when it comes to the WWE, "never say never" is the rule, no grudge is too big to bury, and the door may always remain open to those fans would least expect.