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CM Punk: The Voice of the Voiceless Provides Hope

cm punk voice of the voiceless

It’s been exactly a week and CM Punk’s debut on AEW Rampage will likely go down as one of the greatest wrestling debuts of all-time. Beyond being a great wrestling segment, it was something that transcended wrestling the second a fan in the crowd reached out to Punk with tears in his eyes. At that moment, it became both the culmination of Dusty Rhodes telling fans to touch the TV to touch him and also a sign that CM Punk meant so much more to the people there than anyone would have imagined going in. It was the worst-kept secret in wrestling that he was appearing, but that made it more special, and the timing of everything did as well.

The past two years have been dominated by COVID-19 and some would argue that it’s taken the soul out of pro wrestling. Prior to the return of fans, live natural reactions were lost. AEW was able to somewhat overcome that with limited fans and roster and crew acting as audience members whenever possible. However, the timing of The First Dance was also tough because the delta variant has been spreading more and led to more concern over shows having to be shifted around as they were when the pandemic first wreaked havoc last spring. Punk’s first appearance actually going off without a hitch was a rare example of a glimmer of hope making it through unscathed.

CM Punk’s return to pro wrestling after a seven and a half year absence went off without a COVID-19 related hitch. Matt Hardy and Brodie Lee debuted in the early part of the pandemic and it was heartbreaking that they happened without fans. For Brodie specifically, he never got his big hometown ovation due to COVID-19.

Punk’s AEW debut is a shining light for fans and that crying fan’s raw emotion showed how valuable it is to make a connection with your audience. When fans believe in the wrestlers, they can build a bond that can’t be broken and that was clearly evident when he walked out to a sea of “CM PUNK” chants and hugged as many fans as he could. He hugged a slew of fans, during a pandemic, because the moment meant so much to him. He leapt into the crowd to feel the moment and that brought back memories of Bryan Danielson’s return from retirement and him saying that he closed his eyes to feel the moment. Punk did that, but opened them and turned around completely to soak it all in.

The Power of the Promo

Punk cut a promo that felt like a man who was finally free from a long prison term, both physically and mentally. He said that if he made a choice that made you feel disappointed in him, whether you’re a fan or someone in the back, he understands being upset. However, without saying WWE’s name once, he got over that the company’s methods made him sick and he couldn’t get well being there. He brought up leaving Ring of Honor in 2005 and August 13, 2005 being his last day as a pro wrestler until August 20, 2021. That moment cemented that he re-discovered a passion that was taken from him by a corporate machine that made him a big star which is the irony of it all. Without his WWE run and then leaving there, this moment doesn’t happen.

He talked about Darby Allin. He managed to put him over while also getting across that he’s dangerous, and though he didn’t say it, it was inferred that he was also more dangerous now after his MMA experience.

Using Punk’s Star to Power the Future

As good as the “pipe bomb” promo was, it was also an example of WWE taking the piss out of itself with low-hanging fruit. It’s something they’ve done before and is about on-par with MTV in the late 90s making fun of themselves for not showing as many videos anymore, but not do anything to change.

It’s a decade after the pipe bomb and WWE’s roster has a considerable amount of players in similar roles as they were back then. WWE as a company feels like an iceberg that lurches towards its destination no matter what damage is caused on the journey there. AEW isn’t perfect, but their destination does at least shine a spotlight on younger talent and they seem to be playing the long game with young talent shown by Darby Allin already being a ratings-mover with young fans and theoretically, he’ll be an even bigger one after the Punk match.

CM Punk put over wanting to work with a whole roster of new talent and that bodes well for his return to wrestling in AEW. I’m sure we’ll get a couple of greatest hits-style feuds. I wouldn’t be surprised to see another Bryan Danielson rivalry spark up down the road, but him setting the stage for this to be a run of new matches right away is fantastic. A match with Miro is fresh and ditto Malakai Black or Bray Wyatt if he eventually comes in.

Punk seems to have his head in the right place and it’s going to be fun to see just how this run pans out. So far, it looks like a textbook example of a modern-day legend coming back and making sure the future is brighter due to what they plan to do. An entire generation of talent was hurt greatly by people hanging on too long and beating every up-and-comer with guitar shots and sledgehammers and it feels good as a fan to not have to worry about that with CM Punk. Darby will probably lose at All Out, but it will likely be done in a way that makes him stronger in defeat.

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