It was a cold night in hell Saturday as “Cult of Personality” blared over the speakers at Allstate Arena just outside of Chicago and CM Punk made his return to WWE.

Punk’s surprise return came at the end of the WWE premium live event “Survivor Series,” as he walked out to the delight and shock of his hometown crowd. Punk didn’t do anything physical and didn’t even do anything to set up a future angle, but just his presence and return to the WWE for the first time in nine years might be the biggest pro wrestling story of the year.

Either way, Punk’s out-of-ring drama probably was going to get that distinction for 2023. All Elite Wrestling fired Punk in August after he had a backstage fight with another performer. Punk, no stranger to controversy, had multiple backstage incidents at AEW, presumably burning that bridge.

Then again, fans figured the same about WWE after Punk’s acrimonious departure from the organization in 2014. The company ultimately fired Punk, a decision he learned of on his wedding day. Punk lambasted the company for its handling of his injuries, something that even led to Punk being sued for defamation.

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However, business is business, and the two sides ultimately decided time healed the wounds. It probably helps that Vince McMahon no longer runs the WWE. Punk’s return was the doing of WWE’s chief content officer Paul Levesque, aka Triple H. He posted a backstage photo of himself and Punk following Saturday’s event, a tweet that had been seen more than 12.6 million times as of Monday morning (WWE’s video of Punk’s return had been seen 87 million times as of Sunday night).

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So, what’s next for CM Punk? WWE announced Sunday that Punk will be on “Raw” in Nashville where he’ll presumably speak for the first time since returning. That promo could also clue fans in on Punk’s first feud, although the breadcrumbs already were dropped over the weekend.

It certainly appears Punk is destined for a feud with world heavyweight champion Seth Rollins. While WWE cameras didn’t catch it Saturday night, Rollins could be seen screaming at and gesturing toward Punk from the ring after the return. It certainly looked real (like a “shoot,” in wrestling terms), but Rollins is one of the WWE’s best performers. He followed that up with a promo Sunday night at a WWE house show in Peoria, Ill., where Rollins delivered an in-ring promo about Punk.

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“I’m not gonna waste any more breath on somebody who’s been gone for eight years and has done nothing but try to tear this place down,” Rollins said, as seen in videos shared to social media.

The two have a history, for sure, and this always seemed like a possible destination for the two if it ever happened. Rollins called Punk a “locker room cancer” and a “jerk” while warning him to stay away from WWE in an interview earlier this year. Rollins did later walk back his comments (however real they were or were not) while saying Punk helped him get to the point he’s at now.

Regardless of how the two actually feel about each other, they are two of the biggest stars in pro wrestling. A feud between the two that either culminates at the Royal Rumble in January or is held off until WrestleMania 40 in April will be massive. There is a lot of money to be made, which stands to benefit everyone involved — especially CM Punk and Rollins.

Featured image via YouTube/WWE