CM Punk has returned to WWE after nine years.
The wildly popular, polarizing professional wrestling star came out at the end of the WWE Survivor Series show Saturday night in his hometown of Chicago. Punk's appearance was a complete surprise and a closely guarded secret.
Following the main event of the card, Punk's "Cult of Personality" entrance theme played and he entered the arena before the show went off the air. Punk, with the crowd roaring in disbelief, knelt down in his signature pose and shouted, "It's clobberin' time!"
In August, Punk was fired by All Elite Wrestling, WWE's top competitor, with cause after a backstage physical altercation with wrestler Jack Perry. Punk had been in AEW for two years, a stint rife with injury and behind-the-scenes drama, including several physical confrontations. Punk was a two-time AEW world champion and the biggest money-making draw in the promotion despite all of that.
It's unclear what the creative plans are for Punk, but his return to WWE will be big news in wrestling and beyond for some time. Punk is one of the greatest stars the industry has seen over the past two decades.
"This was one of those lightning-in-a-bottle moments that came together very quickly," WWE chief content officer Paul "Triple H" Levesque said in the post-event news conference. "But we are incredibly excited about it. It's been a long time. In some ways, it's been a long time coming. You can say this about CM Punk: Love him, hate him, positive, negative, whatever you want to say, people talk about him all the time. He is a magnet for that. He's a conversation starter, and it's tough to look past that."
Levesque posted a photo of himself and Punk on his X account later Saturday.
Punk left WWE in 2014 on bad terms. He walked out initially due to health issues then got news of his firing on his wedding day. He signed with UFC later that year and fought twice, swearing off wrestling for seven years before returning in 2021 with AEW.
WWE doctor Chris Amann sued Punk for defamation after Punk made comments on a podcast in late 2014 about his treatment by Amann and WWE as a whole.
Punk and Levesque had personal issues with each other during Punk's time in WWE.
Levesque said Saturday that if you're the same person you were 10 years ago, "You messed up."
"Everybody grows; everybody changes," Levesque said. "I'm a different person; he's a different person. This is a different company. We're all on the same, even starting ground. What's next for CM Punk? That'll be interesting, won't it? I'm interested to see that myself."