The last time CM Punk appeared at a professional wrestling live event was at AEW All In 2023, where he got into a backstage altercation leading to his dismissal from the company. With Punk a free agent, fans speculated whether Punk would find his way back to WWE. After all, Survivor Series: WarGames 2023 was taking place in his hometown, Chicago, Ill.
At the conclusion of Survivor Series, Cody Rhodes, Randy Orton, Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, and Jey Uso celebrated their victory over The Judgment Day (Damian Priest, Finn Balor, Dominik Mysterio, and JD McDonagh) and Drew McIntyre in a WarGames match. Just as the broadcast was seemingly going off air, "Cult of Personality" by Living Colour blared over the speakers at Allstate Arena. Punk would make his way down the stage to a thunderous reaction from the fans in attendance.
Take a look for yourselves.
CM Punk makes return to WWE at Survivor Series: WarGames 2023
Let's look at some of the reactions on social media after Punk's shocking return.
WWE had kept Punk's return under wraps, with a variety of reports indicating that he wasn't expected at the show, unless they were keeping it a secret. As it turns out, that was the case.
At the Survivor Series press conference, WWE Chief Content Officer Paul "Triple H" Levesque called the company's contract agreement with WWE "a lightning in a bottle moment that came together really quickly" and said, "It didn't really start to come to fruition until everybody stopped thinking it was going to happen."
You can listen to Levesque's full comments in WWE's video below:
This is the first time that Punk is back with WWE since 2014, when he departed the company after that year's Royal Rumble event. Punk joined WWE in 2005 and became one of its biggest stars, notably rising to the top of the company in 2011 when he defeated John Cena in the Allstate Arena in Chicago to win the WWE Championship for the first time in his career. Punk won the WWE Championship twice and the World Heavyweight Championship three times.
After his WWE departure, Punk wouldn't return to a professional wrestling company until 2021 with AEW. Punk won the AEW World Championship twice. But his tenure was overshadowed by injuries and backstage fights. There was the backstage fight with Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks after the All Out 2022 press conference, resulting in each of their suspensions. Then at All In this year, Punk reportedly got into a fight with Jack Perry just before the former's match with Samoa Joe. After a suspension and an investigation, AEW announced they were firing Punk.
Over three months later, Punk is back with WWE. What a wild year it has been in the professional wrestling world.