With Survivor Series officially under 24 hours away, there's one question that that is on the tip of every WWE fan, nay, every professional wrestling fan, from the most casual to the hardest of hardcore diehards: Will CM Punk make his long-awaited in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois?

Some people are absolutely sure the “Best in the World” will make his triumphant return to the United Center like a post-Space Jam Michael Jordan, with everything from the subtle commentary nods to the re-release of Cult of Personality one day before the show, while others are convinced it won't be so, as the no show of Randy Orton on RAW makes it feel like his actual return is being saved for the show in order to send fans home happy.

But what does Dave Meltzer, arguably the top reporter in professional wrestling, have to say on the matter? Has he heard that Punk is impending? Or is Punk simply phishing his fans to remain in the news even if he knows as well as Paul “Triple H” Levesque does that he has no contract to speak of? Fortunately, Meltzer addressed the situation on Wrestling Observer Radio in the lead-up to the big show, and his analysis and reporting are fascinating.

“Of course the biggest question regarding the show probably involves CM Punk. If WWE was to bring in Punk, this night or Smackdown the night before would be the place to debut him. We’ve seen no evidence this is happening and those close to the situation have denied it, but it is possible it’s a well-kept secret,” Dave Meltzer said via WrestleTalk.

“We do know that one of the key reasons they made sure Orton’s name was out and didn’t do a surprise was the idea that it would lead to people expecting Punk in that spot and they wanted that shut down. If Punk isn’t there the last thing the company wants is Punk chants during the show. From the start we were told that while there is negativity about Punk, they are not completely opposed to it if the idea is it’s something they have to do in regard to fan response. While every creative head has their plan, this creative side is not looking at being combative with the audience like Vince McMahon often was.”

Alright, so CM Punk probably isn't coming back… unless he does. No one knows if he's making his way back either because it's not happening or because it's just being held that close to the vest. Huh, in the end, I guess fans will just have to tune into Survivor Series and find out the hard way.

Santino Marella has an idea for CM Punk if he doesn't return to WWE.

So, if CM Punk doesn't return to WWE at Survivor Series, what's the next for the “Best in the World?” Well, in the humble opinion of Santino Marella, Punker would be a heck of an addition to Impact as they transition back to TNA in January.

“I just hope he wrestles, wherever it’s gonna be. If he comes to TNA, oh my god. That’d be wicked. I’ve heard that [it’s a rumor]. I don’t know, I have to talk to Scott if it’s real. He said they haven’t really been talking about it yet. But they were seen somewhere grabbing a bite to eat or something like that. But he’d be an incredible asset. TNA obviously is trying to get back to the former glory days of that next level,” Santino Marella said on the Edlow Podcast via WrestleZone.

“A lot of guys have the potential, someone like Will Ospreay and CM Punk for example, if they know that they can help take the company to the next level, that is a huge feather in their cap. Not that I went to an already established company made more money. They have lots of money, but I think it becomes about legacy sometimes. If they say, yeah, when I came there, now we’re rivaling AEW, that’s huge. That’s a huge thing to be able to say that you did that.

“So I hope that appeals to them as much as I want it to appeal to them because I would love to see what they can do. I’d love to say, ‘Hey, guys, we’re going to this stadium, and jump to the next level of arena. Instead of 2,000 people, let’s get 12,000 people. I think we can do it. We just gotta get on a bigger channel where we’re in more households. Everyone says that. You go online, like, ‘Yeah, WWE, AEW, they got the marketing machines, the superstars.’ But when you look at in-ring product, TNA is right there, if not better.”

Unfortunately for Marella, the prospect of Will Ospreay joining Impact/TNA on a full-time basis is officially over, as he signed with AEW at Full Gear and will report to the promotion when his commitments to New Japan Pro Wrestling are finished by February. Still, landing Punk would arguably be the biggest get in TNA history in darn near 20 years, as they haven't signed a star of his caliber since the likes of Hulk Hogan, Kurt Angle, and Booker T.