An amazing weekend for pro wrestling as AEW on 8/20 featured the return of C.M. Punk, while WWE the next day at SummerSlam brought back Becky Lynch and Brock Lesnar.
The Punk return was one of the most amazing television wrestling moments in history. Never before has a show been announced with simply a name, The Last Dance, just a few weeks ahead of time, in a building the size of the United Center in Chicago, and sold out instantly.
Even moreso, this was a risk because AEW had three other events two weeks later in the same market, including Dynamite and Rampage shows on 9/1 and 9/3 that were far from sold out. They literally announced nothing but a name, a takeoff on The Last Dance, the term used for the ESPN documentary last year about the career of Michael Jordan. In this case, The First Dance was in particular marketed around Jordan’s return to the Chicago Bulls in 1995 after a year playing baseball not very well, and leading the team to the next three NBA titles. Punk may not have been the Jordan of wrestling, but he was a cult favorite, at times its most talked about wrestler, best known for his Pipe Bomb promo a decade ago, and one of the handful of biggest stars when he walked away, fed up, in 2014, some 2,766 days earlier as a sign in the crowd let everyone know. He went on to UFC, where he did not do well, almost surely being the worst male fighter in the organization of the last decade. During that same period, as he would note, the fans kept his name alive, almost all in WWE, with chants at shows of “C.M. Punk,” which was the term that grew to mean being unhappy with the product and sending the message to the company by chanting the name of the wrestler that they knew, more than any other would bother management.