WWE Signing CM Punk Reportedly Opens Up Avenues With WBD

CM Punk's return to WWE has already affected the company's business, with Punk moving a great deal of merch in the wake of his comeback. However, according to Dave Meltzer in this week's Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Punk's return may have even larger ramifications. Meltzer shared his belief that Punk opened the doors for a deal between WWE and Warner Bros. Discovery, currently the home of AEW programming.

WWE's Paul Levesque and Nick Khan, along with Mark Shapiro from Endeavor, reportedly traveled to meet with WBD over the last week to discuss "WWE Raw" rights, after talks between the two sides were said to have stalled out in October. Meltzer was told by one source that Punk was a big part of WWE's pitch to WBD, with the company citing TV ratings, merch sales, and social media engagement as metrics supporting Punk's impact on business.

Earlier this year, appearing on an episode of "AEW Collision," Punk cut a promo referencing WBD CEO David Zaslav. In the promo, Punk said Zaslav had called him "One Bil' Phil," referencing seemingly false rumors of a billion-dollar TV rights deal between AEW and WBD.

No deal has been announced yet, and companies like Amazon, Disney, and NBCUniversal are still in play as well. However, if WWE and WBD were to reach an agreement to air "Raw" starting in 2024, it would be a monumental blow to AEW. The promotion's deal with WBD expires next year, and a contract between WBD and WWE would likely force the smaller promotion to look for a new home.

Meltzer also noted that it's possible that WBD owns a small stake in AEW. When asked about the possibility in the past, AEW co-owner Tony Khan avoided answering the question directly, instead simply stating that he maintained all voting and decision-making power within the company.