CM Punk’s dream to headline a WrestleMania will almost certainly have to wait another year. After making a shock return to WWE at November’s Survivor Series event, Punk wrestled his first televised or streamed match since his return when he participated in Saturday’s Royal Rumble. Punk made it to the final two in the match, being eliminated by Cody Rhodes, but suffered a torn triceps during the match, as first reported by Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer and later confirmed by multiple outlets, including ESPN.
Punk confirmed the news in the opening segment of WWE Raw on Monday evening. After coming to the ring with his right arm in a sling, Punk congratulated Royal Rumble winner Cody Rhodes before getting into the details of his immediate future.
“In the course of the Rumble, I tore my right tricep,” Punk said. “As much as I tried and asked that maybe I could just tape it and go to Elimination Chamber and try to win that and get my main event at WrestleMania, it’s just not in the cards.”
Later in his promo, Punk confirmed that he was not intending to retire due to the injury, saying, “This is just a bump in the road. I’m going to keep doing it until the wheels fall off.”
Punk made his return to WWE after a contentious split with AEW, in which he was part of multiple backstage altercations that turned physical. He was terminated from his AEW contract on Sept. 2, 2023.
Punk’s return at Survivor Series was his first appearance for the company since 2014. At that time, he left after mounting frustrations with the promotion, as well as mounting injuries that had caused additional strain for the Chicago native.
Immediately upon his return, it became clear WWE was positioning Punk as one of the potential challengers for Seth Rollins’ world heavyweight championship. Rollins also suffered a recent injury, tearing his MCL and meniscus, though he intends to work WrestleMania, where he is expected to drop his championship.
One of Punk’s many frustrations with his first WWE stint was that, despite being a two-time WWE champion and three-time world heavyweight champion, he was never placed in the main event of WrestleMania, including in 2011 when WWE placed a non-title match between The Rock and John Cena as the headliner over Punk’s WWE championship defense against Chris Jericho.
When Punk walked out of WWE in 2014, he remained retired until debuting with AEW on Aug. 20, 2021.
Punk’s AEW career was marred by injuries as well as the aforementioned backstage scuffles. During his first run as AEW champion, Punk suffered an injured foot that forced him to take time off.
Punk’s second AEW championship run ended after a backstage altercation with The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega, who were both on-screen talent and executive vice presidents of the company. After Punk was stripped of the title, he underwent surgery for a torn triceps.