CM Punk returned to WWE. Sort of. The Second City Saint made his presence felt earlier this week when he visited Monday Night Raw in his hometown of Chicago. According to reports, Punk met with a number of WWE talent and had noteworthy exchanges with The Miz and WWE Chief Content Officer Paul "Triple H" Levesque. Punk and Miz reportedly squashed beef that they had from years prior while the talking points from Punk and Triple H's chat remain unknown. Punk's visit was short-lived, as WWE Chairman Vince McMahon reportedly made a remote request that he leave the arena.
Punk's WWE visit set social media on fire. This was his first known WWE visit since he walked out of the company in January 2014, and considering how that divorce went down, many expected him to stay distant from his former employer for the rest of his career. Most notable about this visit is that it comes amidst reports of Punk's imminent AEW return, as he is being positioned to be the centerpiece of a new AEW Saturday show.
While Punk's recent drive-by may be the most shocking backstage visit, it is far from the first time that a talent from another company stopped by to say hello to WWE.
If his wrestling history is anything to go by, the effects of Punk's aforementioned WWE visit are just getting started. While some talent have vaguely responded to the reports on social media, top AEW names like Tony Khan and the Young Bucks have yet to voice their opinions on the matter.
Punk's infamous shoot podcast with Colt Cabana in 2014 fractured friendships and led to lawsuits years after it was recorded. Hangman Page's sly "workers' rights" promo line inadvertently led to Punk's controversial AEW All Out press conference. What will Punk's WWE visit bring upon the wrestling world?prevnext
While there aren't any leaked images of this appearance, an uncontracted Rey Mysterio reportedly hung out backstage at WWE WrestleMania 34 in 2018. This came two months after Mysterio was a surprise entrant in the men's Royal Rumble match, which marked his first on-screen appearance with WWE in a number of years.
This visit snowballed into Mysterio making a full-time WWE return that fall, but not before he competed in the main event of ALL IN, the independent wrestling pay-per-view that helped birth AEW. If not for this visit, Mysterio could have found himself on AEW's official roster come the company's launch in January 2019.prevnext
While they did not make it into the arena, Bullet Club stirred plenty of headlines when they "invaded" Monday Night Raw in Fall 2017.
Led by a megaphone-clad Cody Rhodes, then-BC members Marty Scurll, Hangman Page and the Young Bucks led a sea of fans towards the Citizens Business Bank Arena in hopes of crashing the show, reminiscent of D-Generation X's stampede of WCW Monday Nitro two decades prior.
Like DX, Bullet Club did not make it into the arena, but the ripple effects of the attempt were felt in the subsequent weeks. WWE writer Jimmy Jacobs, a friend of numerous members of Bullet Club, posed for a photo with the group and was fired as a result. WWE sent a cease and desist to the faction regarding their use of the "too sweet" hand gesture, leading the Bucks and company to briefly adopt the "one sweet" as their new hand signal and release "cease and desist" shirts to boot.prevnext
Kazuchika Okada once popped by a Monday Night Raw during his record-breaking reign as IWGP Heavyweight Champion. The Rainmaker made a WWE backstage visit on the July 3rd, 2017 edition of Monday Night Raw, posing for pictures with his former New Japan friends Finn Balor (Prince Devitt) and Shinsuke Nakamura.prevnext
One of AEW's top talents stopped by WWE Royal Rumble earlier this year. Ricky Starks made the trip to the Alamodome this past January to support long-time friend Cody Rhodes, who went on to win the men's Royal Rumble later that night.
Starks's visit was actually kept under wraps, as no whispers went around regarding his presence, but the visit was exposed by security camera footage shortly later.
"I'm in the process of maybe, maybe suing Alamodome and getting some money out of it," Starks said this past March. "How are you a security guard and go, 'You know what I got? Rewind the tape. Let me show you right quick.'"prev