When reports suggested that CM Punk was in Los Angeles to audition for Fox Sports 1’s upcoming studio series WWE Backstage, this led to some speculation that the former WWE champion may be warming up to his former employer more than five years after he left the company on poor terms with management. On the other hand, it’s been noted that Punk would be working for Fox and not for WWE if he gets the co-hosting job. Such developments nonetheless hint that the wrestler-turned-MMA-fighter is now on better terms with the promotion that allegedly fired him on his wedding day, per a 2014 report from The Inquisitr.
Given that the FS1 gig would also prevent All Elite Wrestling from signing Punk to a contract, reports have also noted that WWE has everything to gain from the fan-favorite superstar co-hosting its new show on the network. However, former WWE talent Ryback suggested on the latest episode of his Conversation with the Big Guy podcast (via Wrestling Inc.) that there’s a chance Punk is using the FS1 audition as a negotiating tactic for AEW — where some of his best friends in the pro wrestling industry work — to offer him a better deal.
“It could be, again, playing both sides, why wouldn’t you as a businessman if AEW already has an interest in him and the money isn’t where he wants it to be to show interest in somebody else that you have no interest in?” Ryback told his guest, Wrestling Inc. founder Raj Giri. “I don’t know, it could be for them to up their offer, or it could be that time heals wounds.”
CM Punk auditioned for an on-air role in the upcoming "WWE Backstage" FS1 studio show last week, per @PWInsidercom ????
Renee Young and Booker T are confirmed for the show and its expected to debut on Nov. 5 pic.twitter.com/kPbk07Voqk
— Bleacher Report WWE (@BR_WWE) September 27, 2019
If Punk does choose to make his wrestling return via a stint with AEW, that would contradict the recent rumors of the company losing interest in the former wrestler due to some of his recent comments. In a July interview, Punk alleged that AEW sent him a contract offer via text message, a move which he felt wasn’t a “way to do good business.”
Despite his suggestion that Punk may be trying to force AEW’s hand into improving its contract offer, Ryback added that he believes his former WWE colleague could become an example of someone returning to Vince McMahon’s promotion despite the acrimony and lawsuits that followed their WWE departure. He stressed that Punk could also be looking to have a final stint with WWE, one where he could erase the bad memories of his 2014 exit while taking advantage of the worldwide exposure the company has to offer.
“You should be able to make the most money over there with the number of eyes that are on that product overall from a world-wide point of view so why wouldn’t he want to go back over there for one last run over there?” Ryback concluded.