Wanna hear the biggest pop in wrestling? Here’s one of about 100 videos of CM Punk in Chicago you can rabbit hole on YouTube if you choose.
Why did we pick this one? Because it’s in Punk’s beloved hometown (the t-shirt he’s wearing, one of the biggest sellers ever in WWE, is modeled on the flag of the city), and it used Living Colour’s Cult of Personality. A song the WWE apparently doesn’t have any exclusive rights to unlike most performer entrances.
So it looks like the track Punk used after winning the WWE title in 2011 is available, and since Living Colour played it live for Punk at Wrestlemania 29, let’s assume the band is on good terms with the most enigmatic and beloved wrestler of the 21st Century.
And there’s a very good chance we get to hear it, as well as one of the loudest crowd reactions in all of wrestling, one more time on Friday night.
Phil Brooks is a lot of things. The husband of fellow wrestler AJ Lee. The guy that cut maybe the best promo in wrestling history. A failed cagefighter. A successful comic book creator. And maybe not the most popular guy in the locker room. But he’s also the performer that connected with fans better than anyone in the modern era of wrestling. Someone seen as taking on the establishment of WWE and if not always winning, at least leaving with his integrity and love of the art form intact.
It’s why any lame part of a live WWE show still gets “C-M-PUNK!” chants to this day, despite his last appearance in a ring being January 26, 2014.
And while there’s been no official confirmation of Punk appearing by either AEW, himself, or anyone else, the United Center in Chicago is now sold out on Friday night thanks mostly to this clue.
If you’re not a smark, “Best In The World” was Punk’s tagline in the WWE. And it all seems to be coming together, with the most credible of pro graps journalists confirming that where there’s smoke there’s fire. Even the CEO of the company got in on the action.
I’m betting that excitement from the most anticipated announcement in @AEW history at #AEWRampage The First Dance will build up through All Out on PPV. We’ll make new fans + we’ll welcome dormant wrestling households worldwide back into the fold; a new era in #AEW begins tomorrow— Tony Khan (@TonyKhan) August 19, 2021
With no offense to current AEW talent such as tag teams Private Party and Jurassic Express (who are both outstanding), Jade Cargill, Kiera Hogan, Daniel Garcia, or even treasured fellow-WWE refugee Jon Moxley, they’re not selling out the 23,000-plus seats on a Friday night for a show people can watch on TV for free. Only one non-WWE guy can on the planet can do that.
So it sure looks like this is a thing that’s going to happen. The Best In The World is back in the business, and in the quality creative hands of Cody Rhodes and the t-shirt company that’s starting to beat WWE where it matters.
While there will be other matches for the fans in the run-up, AEW Rampage is a one-hour show TV show that starts at 10 p.m. ET Friday on TNT. Even if you’re not a wrestling fan at all, this is one that will be worth watching.
Because once that first note of Cult of Personality hits, you might see a roof come off an NBA and NHL arena in prime time.