Let’s Talk About CM Punk

In my time as a fan of professional wrestling, there’s many cool moments I have had the pleasure of seeing unfold. And a few less that I will never ever forget for as long as I live. At the very top of that list, August 20th 2021, the AEW debut of one of the biggest cultural influences on the entire wrestling business in the last two decades. We all knew it was coming, but the moment itself was nonetheless absolutely incredible.

As I said in my blog just before he won the AEW World Championship (for the first time), the early part of the CM Punk AEW run saw him have a great number of matches against names you would necessarily of put him against when you were putting together your list of dream matches prior to his AEW career beginning… Punk faced the likes of Powerhouse Hobbs, Daniel Garcia, QT Marshall, Lee Moriarty and Shawn Spears all within his first 5 months in the company. Business was booming in AEW with Punk as its main attraction, but… maybe all was not as it seemed. Maybe their was trouble in paradise?

Whilst Punk’s introduction to All Elite Wrestling saw him face off with Darby Allin, his first real ‘feud’ was with the ever-passionate Eddie Kingston. Kingston, much like Punk, is an expert at blurring the lines between performance and reality. He is someone whose every word he says as a professional wrestling character, you could very much believe that Edward Moore the man would 100% say with just as much sincerity.

Hindsight is indeed a wonderful thing, but after the events of recent months, I can’t help but keep going back to the words said by Mr Kingston during an in-ring segment with the aforementioned CM Punk…

“Nobody wants you here, they never wanted you here. That whole locker room is afraid to say it, not me, so get out!”

Maybe Eddie was just speaking for his character, maybe he was speaking for himself but as his character. Maybe he was telling the truth. And with what Punk said back to Eddie, even if it was in character, you could understand why there may be some resentment on both sides.

But it is funny… How Eddie Kingston has some level of dislike towards CM Punk, yet they still went and had a feud together, and still worked together and had a Pay Per View match. One that served both as performers well, and helped AEW as a company with a feud that people really brought into. They put aside whatever personal differences they had, in order to do business.

Remember that.

After that, Punk’s next major AEW feud was with MJF. It was without question one of the best rivalries in AEW’s history, one that perfectly mixed real life with pro-wrestling storytelling. With the blow off being a quite unforgettable Dog Collar match. I like to tell my brain sometimes that this is where CM Punk’s AEW run came to an end, as it was all sunshine and roses (seemingly) up to this point. What followed in the months after was… something…

After this, Punk set his sight on gold… And we didn’t know it then, but Tony Khan’s decision to put his World Championship on his biggest name and biggest draw (which on the basis of those facts alone, doesn’t sound like a bad idea) would set the wheels in motion for a series of events that would culminate in one of the darkest days in the history of AEW.

Adam Page represents everything that AEW was originally all about. Since day one of the company, he seemed destined to be its world champion, he said as much at the press conference to announce the company as long ago as January 2019. He eventually got to the top of the mountain at Full Gear 2021 in an incredible match against Kenny Omega that concluded one of the best stories AEW have told thus far. Page would immediately go into 2 more all-time classic matches with Bryan Danielson to further cement his spot as World Champion. He then main evented Revolution 2022 with a win over Adam Cole, before finding himself feuding with CM Punk leading up to Double or Nothing in May of the same year.

Looking back at my blog on Punk, I said the following after a surprisingly strongly-worded Page promo:

“Well, we all like Page because he does have that babyface fire within him… but this is CM PUNK he’s referring to. Saying stuff like there wont be a handshake, and that he wants to ‘DESTROY’ him… not exactly friendly and respectful is it? And what about the ‘mastubatory Bret Hart tribute match’ line… yikes… An interesting element to this ongoing story, we have a little bit of needle between these two ‘faces’ now…

Like I said before, Hindsight is a wonderful thing… with that in mind and what we know now… lets take a look at the go-home AEW Dynamite leading up to the big title match between the two…

Did CM Punk need the World Championship? Did Hangman Page need a win over Punk in a PPV main event? Did it make simple business sense to put the biggest prize on the biggest name? All very good questions. But like it or not, after Double Or Nothing 2022, CM Punk was indeed the AEW World Champion.

If in character or not, it very much appeared that Hangman Page didn’t like CM Punk, and CM Punk didn’t care one way or the other, but took increasing offence to the remarks made in the lead up to their title match. But now everything that Page said aside, Punk was the champion and the leader of the company.

A lot happened in the following few months, pretty much everything that could go wrong went wrong, and as I think about it all now it doesn’t quite seem real, but let me try and summarise: Punk got injured jumping into the crowd on his way to the ring for a match on the Dynamite that followed the PPV, Punk announced he was hurt and relinquishing the title just 5 days after winning it, Jon Moxley was crowned interim champion to face Punk once he was healthy again, Punk returned on August 10th to confront Moxley and a title unification match was set for All Out 2022, the match instead took place on the August 24th Dynamite, Moxley won the match in just 3 minutes after Punk (in storyline) appeared to re-injure his foot, Moxley (now as the undisputed AEW Champion) faced Punk again at the PPV as was originally planned with the story going in that Punk would enter the match hampered by his ongoing injury to try and win back the World Championship in his hometown, in the match Punk got injured AGAIN (for real) and it would later emerge he had torn a muscle in his arm and the subsequent surgery would see him out of action for a number of months, but despite the injury Punk won the title back. MJF then returned from his absence from the company, confronting the new World Champion to set up a match down the line between the two former rivals. A match of course that would not of been possible anytime soon after with Punk’s injury in mind, even that wouldn’t be the main story of the night.

There is a sick irony that (as of this current time) Punk’s final words on AEW TV would be a video of an old promo of his where he said “The greatest trick the devil ever did, was to make you people believe he didn’t exist”. And that the final image of CM Punk we saw on AEW TV… was him holding the World Championship. I went to sleep after that show with excited thoughts of an upcoming feud between a returning MJF, and the newly crowned World Champion. I woke up to an absolute shit storm.

Following the PPV, as is customary , a post-show press conference took place. The new World Champion was one of those that spoke. And well… he did indeed speak…

I’m sure you all know by now what happened after this, but for those few who don’t… well… a great man once said “chat shit, get banged”, and so Omega, and Matt and Nick Jackson went looking for Punk, and Punk’s friend Ace Steel, and they had a legitimate fight. On the Dynamite that followed, Tony Khan announced that the World Championship and the Trios titles won by The Elite at the PPV were all now vacated. Everyone involved in the brawl was suspended. Ace Steel was fired, Brandon Cutler and Michael Nakazawa (witnesses to the brawl) were also suspended, but returned not long after. The Elite returned at the next PPV, CM Punk was injured and so there was no issue of his return to be had anyway… Until now…

Rumours have been abound for months and months ever since the brawl happened about who did and said what. What this and that person thought of what happened and of CM Punk in general. Punk has stayed relatively quiet on the topic, but recently the odd remark, instagram post or comment, and the various comments from both sides via the likes of Dax Harwood, Chris Jericho or even Dave Meltzer have made the waters pretty murky with regards to who thinks what and what may happen in the future. But things appear to be coming to a head. It as recently announced that AEW would be heading to Chicago’s Wintrust Arena for the June 21st Dynamite and Rampage tapings, the final show before the Forbidden Door Pay Per View. It was also announced recently that AEW would be doing a show in August in London at a little venue called Wembley Stadium. And to top it all off, a report from Fightful emerged this past week, which can be summarised by simply saying…

He wants to come back.

Naturally, this has caused much debate on all sides. There have been other rumours about AEW’s potential new Saturday evening show being a way for a soft roster split, and that this would be the new home of CM Punk as the flagship star to lead the new show forward. Many people have also said that if AEW want to fill the 90,000 seats that Wembley Stadium has, then one man is the way they can do it.

Today alone, or in the last few hours, two posts have emerged. Well, actually 3, but two that made me so fired up that I wanted to write this post for you all… One from a wrestling media site, the other from Brandon Cutler himself (who has since privatised his twitter account by the way):

So that’s what they have to say. Here’s what you all came for… here’s what I think…

So I’m gonna start this by saying that I am a fan of everyone who was involved in the whole ‘Brawl Out’ thing, I am a fan of the Young Bucks, I have met them, watched a tonne of their matches, greatly admire their work, I am a huge fan of Kenny Omega. I think he is, in the ring one of the best in the world and one of the best of all-time. I’m also a massive fan of CM Punk, to my right is his t shirt from AEW from when he first came back, which I brought when he first came back along with many, many others pretty much as soon as he came out. I am a fan of a lot of his work in the past, quite liked his AEW run, obviously the last few months of it were… different… but, I am a fan of both of these sides.

The thing that I’ve said to everyone from the start of this is… I am a fan of All Elite Wrestling first and foremost. People will come and people will go, but I quite like the company in general. I am a fan of WWE, and I quite like most companies in Wrestling to a certain degree, but I think they should all… GROW THE FUCK UP, MAN THE FUCK UP, and get together, and if they all love AEW just as much as they claim, and I mean people like Chris Jericho talking shit saying ‘AEW will be fine with or without CM Punk’, and I know he had some words to say privately about it as well… whatever, have your opinions, but… do what’s best for the company! Do what’s best for the fans! For me, CM Punk… MASSIVE draw, get him on your card! If you want to fill 90,000 seats at Wembley, get him on the card, get him on the show, bring him back, if you want one of the hottest angles in professional wrestling HISTORY, you book CM Punk and FTR and put them against The Elite, you do CM Punk – Adam Page, you do CM Punk – Chris Jericho, you do CM Punk – MJF, there is SO MUCH MONEY on the table for everybody!

Now, I understand that money isn’t everything, and it’s certainly not for people who have already got an awful lot of it, I totally understand that. I think every single person who reads this has differences with people that they work with, they have to get on with it! Most of us have to get on with it anyway, we are not all in a privileged position where we can pick who we work with. Now, as I mentioned previously Eddie Kingston had problems with CM Punk, and still did business. That for me… think of Matt Hardy and Edge in the past, think of Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, all have had pretty big differences with one another, all have done business. For me, I would like to think EVPs and co-founders of the company would do what is best for AEW, that they would be willing to put this company that they love above personal opinions. If they do split the rosters like they might do with this Saturday show, fine. I have floated around the idea to some people that CM Punk could just work Ring Of Honor, and do their tapings once a month and the PPVs, has some matches down there… great. But I also understand that you would want your top star on your top show, or if you’re doing this Saturday show that you may want CM Punk to headline that, I totally get that.

The article that really pissed me off was the one that said CM Punk is gaslighting AEW. As someone who has suffered from gaslighting from different people in the past, this is not what CM Punk is doing. This is two sides who don’t get along because of some feelings but largely because of an incident. That’s not what gaslighting is. He’s willing to let bygones be bygones (apparently), Dax and Cash seem to suggest similar, will everybody else? I don’t know. I hope and I pray that Tony Khan can get everyone sat around a table, they can hash out their differences, they don’t have to be friends, but… do what’s best for everyone! Do what’s best for the business of professional wrestling! Do what’s best for the fans of AEW! GROW THE FUCK UP basically… It is PISSING ME OFF all this back and forth bullshit, you don’t have to talk to CM Punk… is he going to be bad for the locker room? I don’t know… A lot of people have come out and spoken positively about CM Punk and his influences and advice he has given, Jade Cargill being one of them.

I just think that everyone involved should just do what’s best for business. And I would like to think that, like I have said if everyone involved loves All Elite Wrestling as much as they say they do, they would create one of the hottest angles in YEARS with CM Punk against The Elite. Because that, for me, would certainly fill Wembley, it would do a record buyrate for All Out in Chicago, if you headline that with say… CM Punk against Omega and do FTR vs The Bucks? And maybe do the 6 man tag at Wembley? Whatever… but… we don’t need people like Brandon Cutler saying how ‘someone gets it’ referring to the gaslighting article… Not helpful at all. And that shows me an unwillingness to cooperate, and that’s not being a professional in my opinion.

Was what CM Punk said at the scrum after All Out bang out of order? ABSO-FUCKING-LUTELY! It was counterproductive to say the very least. Was CM Punk calling out Adam Page live on TV when he couldn’t respond unprofessional? Yes, absolutely it was and I wont deny that. Was it professional of The Elite going to a locker room and starting a fight? no, that’s not good AT ALL! Would the fight of happened as it supposedly did if Ace Steel was there? Who knows… none of us where there. The only people who know what happened and what could’ve happened where the people involved. Will that ever come out? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not… Probably not, and I think it’s best if it doesn’t. But I do think that Tony Khan will want to do what is best for his company, I just don’t see the benefit of leaving everything they could do now on the table… Brining in CM Punk and it ending like this… So, if he comes back on June 21st, if he does something at Wembley, if he does something at All Out, we shall see…




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