Paul Heyman on What He's Looking For in CM Punk's AEW Run

Paul Heyman and CM Punk had a working relationship behind-the-scenes and on-camera that lasted for years while the pair were both in the WWE. But while Heyman is back with the company working alongside the likes of Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar, Punk has emphatically put the WWE behind him and finally returned to wrestling after seven years to join AEW. Heyman was a guest on this week's The Ringer Wrestling Show and was asked about Punk, specifically what he thinks of his run so far. Heyman changed the question into what he's looking for as the years pass for Punk, arguing that so far he's been riding a wave momentum created by the nostalgia and excitement of his arrival last August. 

"I don't know if what he's doing now is where he should be judged," Heyman began. "What will be interesting is what happens when the nostalgia wears off both for the audience and for him. I'm sure for him, this is still, 'I can't believe I'm back! Wow, I'm actually walking into an arena!' I think it's still very fresh for him. What happens a year from now? How's he going to feel? How will the audience look at him and accept him in a year? If he can continue to drive himself to be a progressive, compelling, riveting character on the cutting edge that presents himself in a different manner than anybody else can present themselves then he's gong to be a fascinating character to watch. And if he can't, then he's going to be someone that came back, rode a wave of nostalgia but didn't progress into the future when he as a rebel was always looking forward in the business and never trying to live off what the business had already accomplished or what he had already accomplished in the business.

"So the fascinating thing for me to watch is his mindset, his vision for that character, for that persona, for himself as a performer a year from now," he continued. "We're still in the honeymoon period. Where does he want to take this guy? Where does Phil Brooks want to take CM Punk. It's the same conversation I had Roman Reigns before we debuted in public together. It was taking 'The Big Dog' and moving him into the role of 'The Tribal Chief.' Everything you've done only leads up to now...For Phil Brooks that's the same thing. Everything that he accomplished, and he accomplished a lot, he overcompensated from the moment he broke into this industry, and everything that led up to a year from now including his return and the enormous reaction to his return is just the lead-up. Where does he take the CM Punk character in 2023, 2024, 2025? And can he make that character so progressive, so revolutionary, so evolutionary, so riveting, so compelling, so different and unique than anybody that's out there that he truly defines himself as a transformative figure, a true disruptor in the professional wrestling/sports-entertainment game? That's the interesting part to me. What he's doing now, no matter how hard he's working, he's just riding that wave momentum."