CM Punk returned to WWE at Survivor Series 2023 amid ubiquitous speculation during the buildup. Punk appeared following the men’s WarGames main event.
WWE added to the drama, rumors and innuendo by teasing that Randy Orton wasn’t going to be at Survivor Series. In a backstage segment, Sami Zayn told Jey Uso that Randy Orton was not here yet, leading to loud “CM Punk” chants from the Allstate Arena. Fans chanted for Punk throughout the men’s WarGames match. In the end, Orton showed up for a WWE return that was compromised by wrestling gossip. Still, Orton received a massive reaction for his long-awaited return after 18 months.
With CM Punk long gone from AEW, speculation of his WWE return hit a fever pitch headed into Survivor Series in Punk’s hometown of Chicago. Fans have dissected every angle of CM Punk’s possible return, and rumors have only intensified thanks to a series of WWE Easter Eggs.
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Seth Rollins has used terms like “best in the world” and “cry me a river” in recent promos. During a September broadcast of Raw, shortly after Punk’s Brawl In with Jack Perry, Cody Rhodes said of Jey Uso “you are looking at somebody who has received a large amount of second chances. He is one of the very best of the world, he deserves a second chance and I think we should give him the time to show us that he’s changed.” Becky Lynch has used cheeky terms like “catalyst for change”
WWE has created a monster by co-opting CM Punk return rumors
through hints on WWE programming. So much so, WWE announced Randy Orton for Survivor Series ahead of time so fans in Chicago wouldn’t think the mystery WarGames partner was CM Punk.
CM Punk hype became so prominent, current and former WWE Superstars found themselves answering questions about Punk’s possible return.