CM Punk's pseudo-return to WWE came via him signing a contract with FOX to appear on WWE Backstage. But FOX has since cut the plug on the show which leaves Punk's future in doubt.
Dave Meltzer, the editor and publisher of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, discussed Punk's possible future plans when he joined The Wrestling Inc Daily podcast.
"I don't know the nature if he had a no-cut deal or not. If he had a no-cut deal then they would probably want to get him somewhere. But if he just had a standard contract that had to do with the show and the show is cancelled, then you're out. Yeah, I don't know his deal," Meltzer said before being asked about the chance of Punk returning as a WWE talent.
"There is nothing irreparable when it comes to wrestling and when it comes to Vince, especially now. The more things go down, the more something like that becomes enticing. But then it's also up to Punk and does he wanna wrestle? I know that Vince recently, as in a couple of months ago, was pretty adamant in that no, he wouldn't bring him back. But he always changes his mind when it comes to things and as business gets worse, you're looking for answers. There are no easy answers so you go to the hard ones and that's a shot in the dark. How many times can they go back to Bill Goldberg? You know what I'm saying?"
The conversation then turned to the early days of the pandemic, when WWE often filled programming on Raw or SmackDown by using archival footage of old matches. They haven't done that recently and Meltzer discussed why they might have made this shift.
"If you remember the first couple weeks, WWE relied heavily on them but AEW didn't do it at all. I talked to Tony Khan and there were definitely ideas as far as if worst comes to worst, they would do it. But for him that was the last resort," revealed Meltzer. "But WWE went with it right away – airing PPV matches and things like that. I think that Vince McMahon probably made the call that this is not gonna work for the long term and it probably wouldn't. They're concerned about ratings and I think as much as ratings, they're concerned about the nature of their contracts that if it's not new programming, perhaps FOX… I mean they were real concerned about FOX and NBCU trying to get out of these contracts right now. So that's one of the reasons why both companies are continually putting out new product was to preserve their contracts."
With more and more companies going to streaming, Meltzer was then asked if NBC could ever decide to eliminate USA Network and move their programming to their streaming service, Peacock.
"I don't see it soon but as far as 10 years from now, all bets are off. When it comes to TV, anyone that predicts anything more than 2-3 years ahead doesn't know what they're talking about because things are gonna change. The next 2-3 years, they are not getting rid of USA Network but 10 years from now who knows," asked Meltzer.
"It depends how many people cut the cord and the economics of a cable station. Obviously, the priority when it comes to the USA Network in the NBC portfolio is way down from what it was 5, 6, 7 years ago. That was the biggest money maker they had in the USA Network but now that's no longer the case. Where WWE and where AEW and where everything's gonna be in 5, 6, 7, 8 years – there's so many changes that are gonna happen that there's no way of knowing."
Dave Meltzer can be found on Twitter @davemeltzerWON. Dave's full interview aired as part of a recent episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released Monday - Friday afternoon by clicking here.