With CM Punk making his WWE return at Survivor Series 2023, fans can’t keep calm. Had Punk not fallen out with AEW, WWE fans wouldn’t have thought of Punk returning to the Stamford-based promotion. Having deep grievances with the former WWE CEO, CM Punk first left WWE in 2014 on a poor note.
Being one of the greatest stars back then, CM Punk failed to acquire any major main event shots at WrestleMania. Being the Grandest Stage of Them All, missing out on it affected Punk deeply. In addition to this, Punk was extremely fed up with the poor medical facilities at the company, which almost put him on the verge of dying.
— WWE (@WWE) November 26, 2023
“I gave myself to a point where I look back at it, and if I didn’t leave and walk out, I would be dead,” he said in an interview with the Collider Podcasts. After many issues with the company and Vince McMahon, one couldn’t believe that CM Punk actually returned to WWE under Triple H’s reign. However, Punk isn’t the only man to make a return to WWE after an ugly fallout.
One of the greatest stars to ever get into the professional wrestling business, Rey Mysterio served as an asset for every promotion he worked for. He began his first run with WWE in 2002 and continued it until 2015. While multiple speculations arose about his exit, it came out that he let his contract expire.
— WWE (@WWE) January 29, 2018
Rey Mysterio had lost most of the fans’ support, taking his interest away from the promotion. However, his poor booking broke the ice and he was released from the company. Rey returned to WWE in 2018 and this time, WWE had some great storylines for the Lucha Libre star, making him a star in the eyes of almost everyone.
Alberto Del Rio
Alberto Del Rio attained much popularity after he joined WWE’s main roster in 2010. With numerous golden opportunities falling in his way, Alberto spread his popularity far and wide. However, this was short-lived, and he was released from the company in 2014 for his unacceptable behaviour.
Reports revealed that Alberto Del Rio slapped a crew member backstage after he made a racist joke about him. WWE revealed that Del Rio was let go from the company “due to unprofessional conduct and an altercation with an employee.” However, much to everyone’s surprise, he returned in October 2015 for a short run.
Another man who did not go quite well with the WWE was Dave Bautista, aka Batista. A great and loved star in WWE, he wanted to explore the things beyond the ring. Aspiring to walk in the footsteps of John Cena and Dwayne Johnson, Batista too desired to join Hollywood. However, WWE stopped him from making the move. This sowed in him, the seeds of frustration with the company.
Soon, he saw a drift in the plot of the storylines ever since his debut in 2000. This made him believe that WWE wasn’t heading in the right direction. However, he made a return to WWE in 2015, hoping the fans would pour in massive love. But he failed to achieve so and soon bid goodbye to the ring once again after a short stint.
‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin
A WWE legend, ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, still continues to live in the hearts of fans. His run with WWE came on ugly terms around 2002, when his bookings seemed weak in his opinion. He believed that WWE was not heading in a positive direction and thus decided to give up on his run.
— WWE (@WWE) April 3, 2022
Steve Austin started not showing up on various occasions, fueling Vince McMahon’s fury all the more. As a result, all his storylines were dropped, and his tenure came to an end. However, the two reconciled, which eventually led him to step into the ring in the future on multiple occasions on a part-time basis.
Currently, Cody Rhodes is in his second stint with WWE. His first run in the company started in 2007 and lasted until 2016. In all these years, Cody never made it to the top spot, and his storylines were restricted to the midcard division. His ‘Stardust’ gimmick was a brutal failure and this increased his frustration with the management. Talking to Ariel Helwani, Rhodes recalled an interaction he had with a fan.
The fan failed to recognise him without his Stardust face paint. “He had no idea that I’d won the Intercontinental title or won some tag titles or Legacy. Nothing. Stardust was his only knowledge of me, and that was a rock bottom moment,” added Cody, eventually leaving the company for his poor bookings. However, he returned to WWE at WrestleMania in 2022, surprising everyone.
Topping the list of stars leaving WWE on bad terms is Bret Hart. Known globally for the infamous Montreal Screwjob incident, Bret had been one of the biggest stars in the WWE ring. But this incident changed the course of things forever. He had completed almost 13 years with the promotion before the Montreal Screwjob in 1997.
Bret wasn’t ready to give up on his WWE championship, but Vince McMahon devised a way to mould the story as per his wish. He compelled Bret Hart to submit to Shawn Michaels’ sharpshooter. Bret’s aggression to the situation was released backstage when he thrashed Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels. “I drilled him, as hard as I could, and knocked him right out,” said Bret once.
After this, none of the fans could have expected him to reconcile with the former WWE CEO and make his return. But to everyone’s shock, he did it in the early 2000s. He also got involved in a storyline with Vince McMahon in 2009, giving the fans one of the best rivalries of their lives.
The ‘Montreal Screwjob’ took place 23 years ago today. pic.twitter.com/qMFwqZYbxL
— Randy Cruz (@randyjcruz) November 9, 2020
The aforementioned events reveal that the second stint with the company may earn popularity as well as end in a drastic failure. However, looking at the craze for CM Punk’s return, it is expected that he will do well in the promotion. Now that WWE is in the hands of Triple H, he has high hopes for Punk to bring huge numbers to the company.