CM Punk shocked the wrestling world late Tuesday night when he appeared on Fox Sports 1's WWE Backstage news show. The former WWE Champion's arrival was quickly followed-up with the news that he had signed a new contract with FOX that would make him an analyst and special contributor to the show alongside hosts Renee Young and Booker T. While it's not the in-ring return many fans were hoping for, the announcement marks the first time Punk has stepped back into the pro wrestling world in any capacity since he walked out of WWE back in early 2014.
AEW commentator Jim Ross, who worked alongside Punk throughout the majority of his WWE career and called many of his matches, reacted to the news during an interview with ComicBook.com on Wednesday morning. He also revealed he was offered the same role on the show, but turned it down as he had already agreed to join AEW on a multi-year contract.
"[I wasn't] big-time surprised," Ross said. "I thought [they'd get him when] they got the pay in line with what he's looking for to work part-time. The other thing is that he doesn't have to [WWE TV]. That's my understanding, he won't be going back to the WWE community at TV [tapings]. He'll be going to LA, very different deal. I was offered that opportunity. Not his opportunity, I was offered an opportunity to be on a show with Renee [Young], but I'd already had already committed to Tony Khan and AEW. I'm not big on breaking my commitments or breaking my word..."
"I'm glad to see him going back on TV. He's got a lot to offer. He's creative, he's smart, he's a great polarizing performer. He's a great talent, one of the best talents I've ever been around. Would I have wanted him to work for us? Of course I would. We would love that too. But it wasn't in the cards right now and it may never be in the cards.
He later added — "For established people like that, established big time programs, that need to be a part of that landscape. And Phil Brooks, AKA CM Punk, need to be apart of progressing landscape in some shape, form or fashion. He made a lot of money, he's smart, he saved it, he's not under financial duress, so he should do things that he has fun doing."
Punk will make his WWE Backstage debut on the Nov. 19 episode on FS1. Meanwhile Ross will be on commentary for the latest episode of AEW Dynamite on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET on TNT.