According to a report from Dave Meltzer on his Wrestling Observer Radio show, a source confirms that CM Punk will return to World Wrestling Entertainment this Monday night on Raw, live from his hometown of Chicago, Ill.
A recap of the radio broadcast by Daniel Pena of WrestlingInc.com states:
While Meltzer won't say he's 100% sure Punk will be at the show, his source, who he says is "one of the biggest stars in the industry," said that it's 100% certain.
While there will always be uncertainty surrounding the situation until fans actually see Punk walk through the curtain at the All State Arena on Monday night, 100 percent is a gutsy number to throw around. It leaves no room for error and should make those same fans feel confident that the hometown boy will grace the squared circle for the first time since January.
PWInsider.com reported on Jan. 29 that Punk had left the company prior to Monday Night Raw broadcast on the 28th:
It is believed that when Vince McMahon had the writers re-write Raw late yesterday (6 PM for a taping that was scheduled to start at 7:45 PM), it was because Punk had informed the company he was going home and wouldn't be back.
The site would go on to cite burnout and frustration with the creative direction the company would take Punk heading into WrestleMania:
While we cannot 100% confirm why, the belief among wrestlers backstage is that Punk leaving was not an injury issue. It was described to us as more likely a case of burnout and unhappiness with the overall direction of the company. Punk had been very vocal in the past about the usage of returning and "part time" stars being pushed beyond wrestlers who were working full-time for the company.
Entertainment site TMZ.com added to the reports of creative dissatisfaction:
Sources close to the situation tell TMZ Sports ... Punk was livid when he learned officials scripted Batista to win the Royal Rumble ... because he feels Batista isn't in great wrestling shape and shouldn't be featured in the title match at the upcoming WrestleMania (the biggest event of the year).
We're told Punk feels he earned the right to be in the main event at WrestleMania -- because he's been wrestling tirelessly over the past year from house shows to overseas events. Punk was angry when he found out he'd be wrestling Triple H at WrestleMania instead of squaring off in the title match.
Considering how fed up Punk had to have been to walk out on the company, if he is to return Monday night, it is a testament to management for recognizing that the Chicago crowd would likely attempt to "hijack" the broadcast with chants for their hometown hero and coming up with a solution to the potential problem.
Where Punk fits in the WrestleMania picture is a big question, and one the company needs to have answers for before the former WWE and World Heavyweight champion arrives to the arena for Raw.
With Daniel Bryan now poised to take on Triple H in one of the marquee matches, the most logical spot for Punk would be in the WWE World Heavyweight title match.
With Batista and Randy Orton both portraying heels on WWE programming, the company needs to insert a very over babyface in order to ensure that the match does not suffer the wrath of a fanbase who does not want to see either man in such a high-profile spot on the WrestleMania card.
CM Punk is one of the most popular stars in the sport and absolutely deserves a spot in a heavily hyped match like the championship bout on the biggest show of the year.
The company can easily take the groundwork that was laid for the Punk-Authority feud and transfer it over to the title match, which features two of Triple H's closest buddies.
The road to WrestleMania always features twists, turns and surprises, and Monday night's Raw should be no different. While there are still many questions surrounding Punk and the role he may or may not play at WrestleMania, it should be very interesting and fun to see how WWE approaches the situation on this week's broadcast.