It was already a big deal when CM Punk made his carefully-guarded surprise debut on WWE Backstage last Tuesday, but that was just an episode-ending cameo. Tonight was the first full episode with Punk in his regular role on the show. He previously mentioned on Twitter that he’s been catching up with the last five years of wrestling, and that “no one is safe” when he starts talking. Tonight was the night to put that to the test, and of course we had to tune in to find out.
The show opened with Renee introducing CM Punk, who made a joke about how much he’s getting paid, and then told us that he has a lot to say. Following that, the first segment of the show was Renee, Booker, Paige, and guest Ember Moon talking about the build to Survivor Series, with no Punk to be seen.
After that, however, Renee Young went one-on-one with CM Punk for an interview about how he came to be on the show. Asked why he decided to take the job, Punk made the point that it’s a job that didn’t exist six months ago, let alone six years ago. Then he emphasized the fact that he’s working for Fox, not WWE, and claimed that gives him a freedom to tell it like it is about the product without getting in trouble.
As the conversation went on, he added that he’s at a point in his life where he can do what he wants and doesn’t have to work with “jerks.” He also continued to maintain that he has no interest in getting back in the ring.
Finally, Renee asked for his opinion on the state of wrestling in 2019, six years after he left the business. Punk said that the product is just like it was when he left, and that “wrestling could be so much better.” He called the WWE product “overproduced” and “micromanaged.” He added that he thinks character have an easier time connecting with audiences when they’re developed by the performer instead of scripted by Creative.
He called the women’s division a bright spot in the current WWE, but expressed his disdain for all the “hashtag Women’s Evolution” branding. He also spoke positively about NXT, saying that he sees some of himself in it because he remembers being an indie guy in WWE Developmental and being told he’d never make it to TV.
The following segment started with a clip of the King Corbin segment with the “Big Dog” fursuit character, and CM Punk, who’d replaced Ember Moon on the panel, was quick to call it garbage and say that it made him question being on the show. Paige backed him up that the segment was terrible.
Punk had only good things to say, however, about the WWE Championship match at Survivor Series between Brock Lesnar and Rey Mysterio, saying that the Chicago crowd will elevate the match and the match will elevate the show.
In the next segment Punk served as a judge for “Promo School,” featuring guest David Arquette and Booker T. Punk seemed to be having a great time, joking around with everyone else on the show.
In another two-hander segment, Renee asked Punk if he had any advice for Seth Rollins. He said Rollins needs to stop tweeting and remember the old adage that it’s better to say nothing be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.
Interestingly, that advice to Seth Rollins is the only really critical remark of Punk’s for which the @WWEonFOX twitter tweeted a clip. The stuff about the product being overproduced and the Corbin segment being garbage will surely turn up online in the next couple of days, but the official account isn’t in a hurry to share it tonight.
The show ended with Punk responding to people calling him out on Twitter, in which he cut a promo on Tom Arnold, only to address it to Seth at the end. That led Booker T to accuse Punk of trying to get back in the ring.
Whatever else we read into CM Punk’s return to WWE, seeing him on Backstage was definitely entertaining tonight, and I have to admit I’ll probably check it out next week.