Perfect. That's one good way to convince fans he could still return.
Fans aren't going to stop clamoring for a Punk return. They didn't during his extended absence from the wrestling world and they most assuredly won't now that he's back and associated with the top product on the planet.
Granted, it sort of feels like Punk is in a no-win situation. If he doesn't proclaim he isn't coming back and isn't using his new role as a way to get back in the ring, fans will speculate. If he puts his foot down and says it isn't happening, fans will still speculate anyway.
But that no-win situation has its advantages too. If Punk doesn't use the show to get back in the ring, he stuck to his word just like he did when he walked out and said he was never coming back. If he does end up coming back fans will rejoice.
So far, Punk has decided to promote himself as a Fox employee positioned as a critic of the WWE product. That's perfect for him in a bevy of ways and also interesting in the overarching scheme of things because he's steering fans narrative about the current product, which could force WWE's hand if the ratings aren't great.
Seth Rollins is the first to put a serious strain on Punk's public status as a guy who isn't coming back. Peep the following:
"This isn't the show where you come on and shoot your little angles. Seth needs to stop tweeting..."
That's all it takes. Right there.
Not that the advice shut down the chatter:
Maybe Punk the person doesn't like the idea of leading fans astray if he truly never intends on coming back. But with the idea they will anticipate it no matter what, it's fair to simply lean into it because everyone wins if he keeps fanning the flames.
It sure doesn't hurt from a fan perspective that WWE's top overall guy is the first one to fire some salvos Punk's way. That leads to plenty of speculation on its lonesome and while it's easy to think Rollins might be going into business for himself and just laying some groundwork on the chance it happens later, a guy in Rollins' position might not be doing something like this without a nod from the folks in charge.
If a Punk return happens and it's with Rollins, fitting. One of Punk's biggest grievances with wrestling was never main-eventing WrestleMania. Rollins has made sure to throw down that groundwork already.
"For me, the only place the match happens is at WrestleMania, in the main event. That's the only reason I'm picking a fight with him. I've got no other interest than that. If he's interested, it's out there. Any time you're ready, let's go.
But it doesn't have to be Rollins. Maybe Rollins is just the first in a long line of Superstars who go after a match with Punk. Why not? Going down in history as the guy to lure back the fabled CM Punk return would work wonders for legacy.
In the end, maybe this is all just WWE helping to promote Backstage, a Fox show. Everybody benefits. But it also keeps the allure of a Punk in-ring return alive. It sure seems like a fittingly right time too—the hype of Punk making a surprise return was starting to fade as more years passed.
Now? Punk, WWE and everybody else has a way to ride the lightning of perhaps the biggest "what if?" wrestling scenario in the modern history of the sport.