Former NXT Champion Samoa Joe has claimed that he knew that CM Punk would return to professional wrestling as early as 2019.
CM Punk left WWE and seemingly professional wrestling in 2014 never to return. While rumours of a comeback surfaced over the course of the next seven years, Punk was adamant he wouldn’t be returning to the ring.
However, the former WWE Champion found himself back involved with pro wrestling in 2019. Late in the year, CM Punk was confirmed as a regular guest on WWE Backstage. Despite Punk commenting that the deal was done through FOX and had nothing to do with WWE, fans began to wonder if ‘The Voice of the Voiceless’ might be inching towards another run in the ring.
“If I know one thing about Punk: if he’s out on something, he’s out on it. You won’t see him being around it, you won’t see him looking at it, you won’t see him staring at it, it’s out of his life and the minute I saw him on the FOX set, I knew his eyes were turning back towards it, and I think he was just looking for the right place at the right time and he wanted to be happy with it and I think he is. From what I’ve seen, I would gather that he is, so I’m stoked for him and I’m and I’m happy to see him back.”
Despite both Punk and Samoa Joe working for WWE, their runs never coincided, meaning that fans were denied a follow-up to their legendary three match series in 2004 in Ring Of Honor.
The two men wrestled to a 60-minute draw in June, before doing the same in October. The second bout became the first North American match to receive a five-star rating from Dave Meltzer in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter in seven years. Joe defeated Punk in the final match in the series in December.
Reflecting on the trilogy, Joe said that the matches were incredibly important for both men.
“Tremendously important for a lot of reasons, both from a career standpoint and from a business standpoint. It was an opportunity to kind of explore bounds that, personally, I’d never really explored before, doing the longer format matches doing the 60-minute matches and got me acquainted to what I was able to do and if I push myself and go out there.
It was a great creative effort, you know, anytime you’re in there with Punk, he’s got a tremendously creative mind, great collaborative [effort] going back and forth. It’s always very easy to come up with something great with him. It was a special time and it’s something I really enjoyed, and I definitely do highlight [the trio of matches] as a very important point in my career.”
CM Punk finally returned to pro wrestling in August at AEW Rampage: First Dance. Since then the star has remained undefeated picking up wins over the likes of Darby Allin and most recently Matt Sydal.
Meanwhile, Samoa Joe is currently taking time away from the ring after vacating the NXT Championship in September.
Samoa Joe hasn’t wrestled since claiming an unprecedented third NXT Championship in August. However, despite the win, Joe has since been forced to relinquish the title due to injury.