CM Punk On WWE Return, Reconciling With Triple H, Nick Khan As The 'Difference Maker'

It took a walkout, a decade, and a controversial two-year run in AEW, but CM Punk finds himself back in WWE once again, having returned in his hometown of Chicago at Survivor Series 2023. While plenty has been made about Punk's return or what came before it, the story of just how he and WWE came to terms on a reunion had remained a mystery, until today. Appearing on "The MMA Hour," Punk spoke about his talks with WWE on a return, confirming that the process began only a few days before his Survivor Series return. He also revealed that it was WWE who reached out to him.

"The action of it started the week of, I think, Thanksgiving...," Punk said. "I'd have to look at a calendar to figure out dates exactly. I remember times and places of where I was when I would get phone calls and such. And I had a CFFC show coming up, I think. So I got a call from Nick Khan, and he was just like 'Hey, we want to talk to you.' And I was like 'Cool. [I'm] on my way to the gym, and I have this coming up. CFFC, I'll be back.' 'Cool, you want to talk Monday?' 'Great.'

"So it was the week of Thanksgiving. I spoke to him Monday...The call, I'm always so nervous about pulling the curtain back on stuff, but I think the call was more about 'Hey, we want to talk about you coming back. We'd love you for Royal Rumble.' Cause they assumed that I probably had some sort of noncompete or something like that, and were kind of floored when I was like 'No man, I'm ready to go. Let's do it."

Punk Recalls Burying The Hatchet With Triple H

While Khan and Punk continued to talk frequently during the next several days, things took a turn when Punk asked Khan if he could put him in contact with Paul "Triple H" Levesque, whom Punk had a tumultuous relationship with during his first WWE run.

"It's funny because everyone calls him Paul [now]...I always call him Triple H or Hunter," Punk said. "When I spoke to him, that's when the ball really got rolling, you know? Cause it was a very...I asked him if he wanted to talk on the phone, and he said 'No. I would actually rather kind of like to face-time you, so I can see you.' And I was like 'Oh, that's interesting.'  

"We just talked about a whole lot of stuff, and about stuff that was at one point serious to probably both of us...that is silly now. And we just kind of laughed and buried the hatchet. And then we started talking business."

Among the more shocking revelations was that Punk confirmed there had been talks of him returning to WWE before, even before his stint on "WWE Backstage" in 2019, but that things only seriously moved forward during the recent talks. As good as his conversation with Triple H went, Punk ultimately believes that it was Khan who helped steer things towards a WWE return, something that host Ariel Helwani, Khan's former client, seemed to agree with.

"He was the difference maker," Helwani said.

"I think so," Punk said.

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit "The MMA Hour" with Ariel Helwani and provide a h/t to Rllegends for the transcription