In an interview with Connor Casey of ComicBook.com, Rhodes had the following to say about Punk:
"That door will forever remain open to CM Punk. He was very good to me in OVW. He was a great person to learn from in the ring. I had a good relationship with him. That door will remain open, but for All Out, the main focus for me is Hangman Page and Chris Jericho to determine the very first AEW World Champion."
Rhodes also noted that he is committed to the stars who are already on the AEW roster and doesn't want his pursuit of outside stars to take away from it:
"Last year something with All In that we noticed is that at the actual show there wasn't a single CM Punk chant. I thought, 'Great, OK. It's not that they don't like Punk, but they know that we're here and we're putting on this show.' This year I don't expect anything different. I've been very honest about that door remains opened. The fans have never given up on CM Punk and if he wanted to be part of AEW we would do everything in our power to make him part of it.
"But I have 25 to 35 brand new stars. Guys like Jungle Boy. Guys like MJF. Ladies like Kylie Rae, Britt Baker. If I was to spend all my time in trying to recruit just one CM Punk, I would be doing a disservice to them. I felt, in the past, with my own career that a disservice that has happened to me on occasion about putting someone ahead of me. You always hear the discussion of part-time, this and that. I don't want to go too far there, but I want to make AEW about performers we have."
Punk has not competed in a pro wrestling match since leaving WWE in January 2014. Instead, Punk embarked on a career in MMA. His time as a fighter may be winding down, though, since he lost decisively in each of his two UFC outings.
The 40-year-old veteran is constantly bombarded with questions on social media about signing with AEW, but he never gives any indication that he is planning to return to wrestling:
Punk did manage to kick the rumor mill into overdrive in April when he reportedly appeared at an independent wrestling show under a mask. At an MKE Wrestling event in Wisconsin, a person who seemed to be Punk interfered in a match and hit another wrestler with a GTS:
While Punk himself has not confirmed that it was him, MKE Wrestling owner and ROH star Silas Young strongly suggested it:
silas young @lastrealmanROH
Here is some PUNK running in a match last night @MKE_Wrestling you never know who’s in gonna show up at our shows. Former world champions have been stopping in at the last couple shows!!! Don’t miss out on May 17 at our new home Buenavista Banquets 76&oklahoma next to AMF lanes https://t.co/rr8xVH8UJ0
If Punk were willing to get involved in wrestling again albeit in a small and fairly anonymous way, perhaps there is hope for the former WWE champion to return on a full-time basis.
Given his poor relationship with WWE, Punk would likely be most willing to make his return for AEW, especially since he is friendly with the likes of Cody and The Young Bucks.
The perfect time and place for Punk's return would be All Out on Aug. 31, which is being held at the Sears Centre Arena just outside Punk's hometown of Chicago. That would undoubtedly maximize the importance and impact of his return.
AEW already has a ton of momentum heading toward the debut of its weekly television show on TNT later this year, but because of Punk's status as the biggest available star in all of wrestling, signing him would help take AEW to another level in terms of providing legitimate competition to WWE.
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