Ahead of his second MMA fight at UFC 225 on Saturday in Chicago, CM Punk has stated in no uncertain terms he doesn't envision a return to professional wrestling.
Punk told TSN's Aaron Bronsteter he has no interest in wrestling again and lamented how many fans still hold out hope of seeing him in a WWE ring:
There's every reason to believe Punk's intention to leave the wrestling world behind. However, the business has conditioned fans to remain skeptical that a marquee name will stay retired.
Often, that skepticism is well-founded.
In April, Chris Jericho seemingly indicated his brief run in New Japan Pro-Wrestling was over. Less than a month later, he attacked Tetsuya Naito at Wrestling Dontaku 2018, and now the pair will face off at Dominion on Saturday.
Ric Flair famously lost a retirement match to Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XXIV in 2008 but continued to wrestle with TNA.
Michaels then lost a retirement match to The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI. Despite being out of wrestling for more than eight years, The Heartbreak Kid recently opened the door for one more match.
Completing the circle, The Undertaker had a ceremonial retirement at WrestleMania 33, leaving his gloves, coat and hat in the center of the ring after his loss to Roman Reigns. He has had two matches since then, with another scheduled for July 7 at Madison Square Garden.
To Punk's credit, he has generally been explicit about his desire to never wrestle again, though he hasn't been above trolling fans about the possibility.
Punk and WWE may one day repair their relationship enough to where he can make a one-off appearance for a Hall of Fame induction or Raw reunion special, but banking on his in-ring return is wishful thinking.