Fox reportedly wasn't happy that WWE didn't make a greater effort to bring back CM Punk before Punk signed with All Elite Wrestling and debuted on Rampage last week.
According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t WrestlingInc.com's Marc Middleton), Fox executives were "very upset" with the way the Punk situation went down, especially since Fox had a good relationship with Punk from his time on FS1's WWE Backstage in 2019 and 2020.
Meltzer noted that Fox's unhappiness regarding Punk going to AEW played a role in WWE bringing back Brock Lesnar and Becky Lynch at SummerSlam and positioning both of them to be part of SmackDown on Fox moving forward.
Lynch, who hadn't been on WWE programming since May 2020 when she announced she was pregnant, was the surprise replacement for Sasha Banks in the SmackDown Women's Championship match against Bianca Belair.
The Man won the title thanks to a cheap shot, which suggests she will be on the blue brand moving forward.
Meanwhile, Lesnar showed up for the first time since WrestleMania 36 in April 2020 when he came out to confront Universal champion Roman Reigns after Reigns beat John Cena to retain the title in the main event of SummerSlam.
Lynch and Lesnar are two of the biggest stars in wrestling, and their arrival on SmackDown could mean even better ratings for Fox on a show that consistently garners more than 2 million viewers per week.
Punk paid instant dividends for AEW by drawing over 1.1 million viewers for Rampage despite it being in the 10 p.m. ET slot on TNT. Punk's first appearance on Dynamite this week drew over 1.1 million viewers as well.
Given that Punk was one of the biggest stars in wrestling when he left WWE over seven years ago and hadn't been in a wrestling ring since, the initial boosts were expected.
Whether Punk keeps the upward trend going remains to be seen, but there is no doubt he was a huge signing for AEW, as was the re-signing of Lesnar and return of Lynch for WWE and SmackDown on Fox specifically.
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