CM Punk should return as a paid fan while he plans his future
From reading reports, it seems that Vince/Punk have a good relationship. Vince believes Punk can make money, Punk knows he can be the most succesful while in WWE (as opposed to going to TNA or elsewhere). Obviously, Punk left, is burnt out, pissed off, his contract is expiring in a few months, we're on the road to WM and it's almost getting too late for him to be put in a main program heading into the show now should he return soon....so what do you do with all of this?
Have CM Punk "troll" the WWE.
On March 3rd, the Raw in Chicago - have him Show up in the audience, as a paid ticket holder.
A. It'll keep the fans in Chicago from rioting, him being there
B. It doesn't cost him anything to be there (literally, just show up in the fans, and play to the crowd a bit), etc.
C. It allows WWE announcers to mention him on-air without so much knowing what's going on.
After that RAW, CM Punk goes away again. But have him again show up in the crowd at Mania. Have people build up anticipation to wth he's doing.
It doesn't seem like he's ready to return to WWE anytime soon. What's the downside? Plant some seeds for his eventual return, should that day come, by doing something different and unexpected. Fans will be wondering is it a work? a shoot? are they planning a major angle? I can see Punk being ok doing that - it certainly doesn't hurt him in anyway, and gives him the ability to plan a major return down the road should he decide to.
My argument is - have him show up in the crowd those 2x without Vince/Punk even having an established idea of where it would lead. Take a few months off if needed, work it out in the spring/summer, or even leading to WM31 only..but in case they come up with a "Summer of Punk 2" Angle, this could be a good way to get it started early.
If Punk and WWE can't come to terms on a contract and he eventually leaves for good? No big loss. Him showing up in the crowds won't hurt the product by giving him exposure - the fans want and chant for Punk anyways, so it's not like WWE would be harming himself by doing this.