Today marks the two year anniversary since CM Punk made his AEW debut on Rampage in Chicago. With that being said let’s take a look at how Punk’s first two years in AEW have looked like.
In August 2021, CM Punk made an impactful return to the world of professional wrestling with All Elite Wrestling (AEW) during The First Dance event on Rampage. This marked Punk’s resurgence after a seven-year retirement, as he challenged Darby Allin to a match at the forthcoming All Out pay-per-view. The climactic clash took place on September 5, with Punk emerging victorious over Allin.
Following a brief feud with Eddie Kingston, which culminated in Punk’s triumph at Full Gear, the wrestler faced his inaugural defeat in AEW in February 2022, succumbing to MJF in a singles match on Dynamite after a prolonged feud between the two. However, Punk’s redemption arrived in the form of a Dog Collar match against MJF at Revolution.
Continuing his ascendancy, Punk achieved a milestone by dethroning “Hangman” Adam Page at Double or Nothing on May 29, acquiring the AEW World Championship – his first world title win since 2011. Nonetheless, an unexpected setback occurred when Punk announced on the June 3 episode of Rampage that he would be taking a hiatus from in-ring competition to recover from a foot injury, while retaining his championship status. In his stead, Jon Moxley was crowned interim champion at AEW x NJPW: Forbidden Door on June 26, paving the way for a title unification contest upon Punk’s return.
Punk’s much-anticipated return materialized at the Quake by the Lake special episode of Dynamite on August 10, as he engaged in a confrontational showdown with Moxley, setting the stage for a disputed title scenario. Originally intended for All Out, the bout was later rescheduled to the August 24 episode of Dynamite due to escalating tensions. Unfortunately, this encounter ended swiftly with Punk’s defeat at the hands of Moxley, culminating Punk’s 86-day reign.
Despite this setback, Punk’s resilience was unwavering, and he swiftly accepted Moxley’s open challenge during the subsequent week’s Dynamite. The culmination arrived at All Out on September 4, with Punk clinching victory over Moxley to secure his second AEW World Championship.
Subsequent events saw Punk address real-life rumors during a post-event media gathering after All Out. He vehemently denied allegations that he sought to have Colt Cabana fired from AEW, and his stance was corroborated by AEW President Tony Khan. However, Punk’s statements inadvertently sparked a backstage altercation involving him, Ace Steel, Kenny Omega, and the Young Bucks, leading to suspensions and Steel’s eventual departure.
Punk’s hiatus concluded with his long-awaited return to AEW on June 17, 2023, during the premiere episode of Collision. He reentered the ring alongside FTR (Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood), securing victory in a six-man tag team match against Samoa Joe and Bullet Club Gold (Jay White and Juice Robinson). Subsequently, Punk was announced as a participant in the men’s Owen Hart Cup tournament, progressing to the semi-finals by defeating Satoshi Kojima. Following a victory over Samoa Joe in the semi-finals on July 8, Punk faced Ricky Starks in the finals on July 15, suffering a controversial defeat.
During the July 29 edition of Collision, Punk took center stage, unveiling the AEW World Championship he had secured at a previous All Out. He declared himself the “real world’s champion,” citing that he had never been defeated for the title, and proceeded to symbolize his stance by spray-painting a black X over the championship’s centerplate – a nod to the straight edge symbol synonymous with Punk’s wrestling journey. In the subsequent week, Punk avenged his loss to Starks by defeating him in a rematch, defending the “real world championship” for the first time, with special guest enforcer Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat at ringside.