Hello and welcome to the WrestleTalk Super News – I’m Oli Davis, telling you to super kick the thumbs up and bash the subscribe button with a sledgehammer.
But only with your hand covering the really damaging bit. You don’t want it to actually hurt anyone.
Over the last few weeks, a lot of people have called us out for clickbaity style headlines. And because you, the fans, are the true authority figures, we’re going to change that going forwards – which I’ll be talking more about at the end of the video. I was all ready today to write a really straight, non-baiting headline for today’s video.
And then both Triple H and CM Punk himself spoke about Punk’s potential wrestling return.
CM Punk return confirmed. That one was out of my hands.
Despite seeming like he’d never return to wrestling at all, let alone WWE – with Punk walking out of the promotion back in early 2014, the company serving him his termination papers on his wedding day, and then allegedly funding a prolonged defamation lawsuit against him that reportedly cost him his friendships with Colt Cabana – 2019 has seen the Straightedge Superstar somewhat soften his stance on a comeback.
First came an actual wrestling return, with Punk appearing under a mask for independent promotion MKE Wrestling back in April, where he helped his former trainer Ace Steel win a match with a Go To Sleep. Then at the end of August, he headlined AEW’s sister convention Starrcast III with a Q&A with PWInsider’s Mike Johnson.
If he was going to make a wrestling return anywhere, with his MMA career transitioning from an 0-2 loss record into commentary, it’d surely be for All Elite Wrestling, to make the 2019 version of blowing Vince McMahon a kiss over the barricade from Money in the Bank 2011. I.e. a big middle finger.
But then shortly after that Starrcast appearance, his interviewer Mike Johnson started reporting on PWInsider that Punk’s long awaited return to wrestling could actually be for WWE, just with one caveat – it would be as a host for the Fox Network show WWE Backstage, which wouldn’t technically be working for Vince McMahon again, as it’d be produced by Fox, but it would be under the WWE brand.
According to PWInsider, the Wrestling Observer and many others, Punk did really well in his audition for the show alongside other host Renee Young, and was supposedly the frontrunner to get the full time gig – with Wrestling Observer Radio even reporting FOX had offered him the role.
But Fightful Select is now reporting:
“Punk’s tryout went well and he impressed the Backstage team, but it was left in the hands of higher ups at Fox that seemed like they’d “moved on” as recently as this week. Nothing is concrete in that regard, though.”
FOX had also auditioned Paige, Rey Mysterio, Taz and Sean Waltman for the role, and the show actually launched last Tuesday with Booker T as Young’s co-host, although that’s expected to just be a temporary pairing.
Just like how we’ve seen in the past with external companies easing the return of previously blacklisted wrestlers to WWE, though – like Goldberg, Sting and Kurt Angle’s returns being foreshadowed by their involvement in WWE 2K releases – the FOX talks could’ve nudged something inside Vince McMahon’s head.
When talking to Sports Illustrated two weeks back about Punk’s tryout with FOX, Triple H outlined WWE’s official policy on returning wrestlers they’ve massively fallen out with as “We are willing to put the past behind us and move forward. I would say never say never, but that’s also probably a long way from coming true. That’s a little bit outside my purview.”
Triple H there, poet and he don’t know it.
I’ll tell you whose purview it most definitely is in, though – Vince McMahon’s. And Hunter has revealed the Big Boss Man’s – no, not that one’s – thoughts on a potential Punk return to WWE in an interview with Ariel Helwani:
“That’s a ‘could be’. Vince will say it all the time: ‘We’re open for business’. The past is passed, today is today and you never say never in WWE.”
Sure Vince would want CM Punk back. He’s the biggest wrestling star in the world not currently signed to a wrestling promotion. It’s almost not worth talking about if Punk himself isn’t into the id-
Oh right, he said he’d return for loads of money.
A few days ago on an Ask Me Anything on Reddit – where he was supposed to be talking about his leading man debut in The Girl on the Third Floor movie (it looks really good) – one fan inevitably asked him about going back to WWE – to which Punk replied:
“Oh of course i’m going to get asked that, no need to apologize! It’d have to be a very big bag.”
A ‘very big bag’, for clarity, is slang speak for an enormous container for luggage. I’m thinking the big blue ones you get from IKEA. Or it could mean loads of money, it’s vague, I’m not sure.
And then yesterday, still trying to promote his movie bless him, Barstool Sports’ My Mom’s Basement podcast also asked him about returning to the wrestling industry in general, be it in a backstage role or in the ring – which he answered very positively:
“Absolutely. I also think that, for five years, I’ve always been asked that question. No matter what I say, it gets reduced to clickbait and warped.”
CM Punk return confirmed.
“My attitude has always been, ‘I don’t see it happening.’ I just think I’ve talked about it more recently. I don’t think my attitude has changed. Just because I say things like, ‘What would it take you to go back’ and I say ’Oh it would take a really big bag.’ So people use their imaginations.”
Punk has followed up that sentiment on his Twitter:
“When I do interviews, for whatever the reason, I never tell people to not ask wrestling questions. This is why you’re inundated with clickbait stories from “journalists”. If you don’t like it, don’t get mad at ME, stop reading trash.”
I would argue it’s not really clickbait if he’s literally saying he’s absolutely open to a wrestling return.
Punk continued talking to Barstool Sports about his frustrations with WWE and AEW for exploiting the excitement around his potential return:
“I actually think both WWE and AEW have used the fact that I’ve been like ‘whatever’ about it, to rope people in every now and again to make people think that I am coming back on specific shows and specific times and stuff like that. ‘Oh, we have a mystery opponent or mystery partner.’ And everyone is like, ‘It’s CM Punk!’ Instead of coming out and being like ‘it’s not him’. There’s nothing wrong with them kinda trying to do that. I mean they [AEW] sent me, they texted me second hand an offer. And I said ‘real offers only please’. Who knows what’s going to happen? I did the Fox thing, and I was already in LA, so I went and did it. I haven’t heard a thing.”
You can listen to the whole Barstool Sports podcast interview with Punk by clicking the link in the video description below.
Meanwhile, in WWE 2K20!
So 2K crapped the bed.
2K’s latest instalment in their WWE video game series was released worldwide yesterday on Xbox, Playstation and PC – and it faceplanted practically everywhere.
Fans who had bought the game for the day of release were so angry with its numerous glitches, bugs and missing features that #FixWWE2K20 was trending worldwide for several hours, with players posting screenshots and videos of 2K’s nightmarish vision of the future where wrestling ring attire is fused with the human body.
For the next month, WrestleTalk’s gaming channel ScreenStalker is going to be playing WWE 2K20 every weekday on Twitch – for better or worse – so follow us on there by clicking the link in the video description below to watch us laugh at the game and moments like this:
The issues seem to stem from 2K’s development partner Yukes leaving their near-20 year partnership earlier this year because they didn’t agree with the creative direction of the franchise. This meant that 2K20 had to be finished by 2K’s in-house studio Visual Concepts – either leaving not enough resources to finish the game properly in time for release, simply just lacking Yukes’ expertise, or most likely, a combination of the two.
And the issues aren’t just contained to the game itself, as even the physical elements of the release have been botched.
The SmackDown! 20th Anniversary Collector’s Edition of the game was supposed to come with a mixture of physical memorabilia and pre-order bonuses – which included a Legend Autograph. But some players have only been receiving unsigned photos.
“When you spend $130 on something that’s advertised you usually expect to get it. Hit me up dude. I would like to see somebody make a right on this because @WWE will just ignore me. No autograph?! Wowww! ? with an unsigned picture of Edge.
To the man’s credit, as this is definitely a 2K issue, not his, Edge quickly replied to the fan:
“Lame. Seems like it happened to a few other people too. Someone dropped the ball. I’m filming a movie for the next month but when I get home I’ll get a p.o box. Everyone who didn’t get one signed, I’ll follow you on here, give you the address and you can send it to me to sign??”
It’d be hypocritical for me to talk about the fan backlash to 2K20 and not also address the criticism against WrestleTalk over the last month. A lot of viewers have been commenting saying they don’t like the direction of the channel, with the community posts promoting website links, adding too many new hosts, titles being too clickbaity, too many plugs for other things we’re making, the increased length of the videos, and generally getting away from what made everyone fans in the first place. It turns out, rather accidentally, we’ve had a bit of a heel turn.
This is going to sound cheesy and hokey, but it’s the truth – you viewers, our WrestleTalk fans, you’re genuinely the most important thing in the world to us. I hope those of you who watch our livestreams – be it reactions or reviews – know just how much we love you all. And the thought that people think we’re losing sight of that is sad, it’s actually made me really sad.
But I’m not trying to tug on any heartstrings. It’s obviously a problem and we’re going to fix it. I asked you all yesterday what we can do on YouTube, and you gave loads of really useful suggestions. Hopefully you’ve noticed that we started some of them in this very episode, where we jumped straight into the main CM Punk story with hardly any of our usual plugs. And we’re going to stop the website plugs on the Community tab until we find a better, clearer way to do it. If anyone’s got any ideas on how to do that, please let us know in the comments.
We’ll also be refocusing ScreenStalker on wrestling with our WWE 2K20 let’s plays, so there’s a more obvious crossover with WrestleTalk and the content there will hopefully be more relevant to you.
And from tomorrow we’ll also be trialing bringing back the ‘in about 4 minute’ review videos for Raw, AEW and SmackDown, as I didn’t know people missed those so much. And after my failed attempt at a new review format yesterday, I now know that a lot. Because that was a big fail!
But we can’t do it alone, SWAFT Nation. We need your help too. If you’ve ever loved WrestleTalk, please leave a comment letting us know what we can do to help turn babyface again, and show your support for this new direction by giving us a subscribe, pressing the thumbs up button, and spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and anywhere else to Support WrestleTalk.
Watch Laurie and Simon’s first impressions of WWE 2K20 by clicking the video on the right! And WWE reportedly banned AEW merchandise from Monday’s Raw! Click the video below that to find out more. I’ve been Oli Davis, and that was wrestling.