Folks, I just want to relax at the “Retirement Home for Internet Columnists” in peace but the wrestling world keeps pulling me in… Case in point, CM Punk.
And because other content providers and writers just aren’t making sense on the CM Punk stories that are out there, I have to once again step up. After all, I was 100% right on the 2011 analysis of CM Punk where I declared that CM Punk was being “buried” by WWE management and I was attacked by many marks, including fellow writers on the same staff, about my position. CM Punk even responded to me on Twitter that he was being “buried in money” after hearing about what I wrote. 3 years later, he’s on Colt Cabana’s podcast and 100% verifying what I said about WWE burying him.
Once again, I have to step up and provide my educated analysis on the man known as CM Punk, who is appearing to be one of the most controversial figures in Pro Wrestling history. Say what you will about his in-ring abilities or character, but he is a pure lightning rod within the Internet Wrestling Community. The debates range from his issues with his current promotions or whether he’s legitimately great or not.
Recent CM Punk headlines:
– Chris Jericho allegedly called him a “cancer” to the AEW locker room.
– Larry, who is CM Punk’s dog, was allegedly injured when the EVPs allegedly kicked in CM Punk’s locker room door following the AEW All Out 2022 media scrum.
– CM Punk and Triple H may be comfortable in working together again, if these recent events can get CM Punk out of his AEW contract.
The funniest part is how Wrestling Observer‘s owner and writer Dave Meltzer is actually reporting inside AEW stories now. What took you so long? You have allowed other outlets and people, like Sean Ross Sapp, beat you to the punch on breaking AEW stories. But now that your BOYZ Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks have been suspended, now you have inside stories to tell? And now you are critical of Tony Khan? What took you so long on that? Oh my bad, you were too busy handing him “Booker of the Year” for consecutive years like the biased mark that you truly are. That said, Dave is heavily refuting the Larry stories, probably on marching orders by either the Bucks or Omega to retain his role as their spokesperson.
Speaking of Meltzer, he added to the story that Fightful broke about Chris Jericho calling CM Punk a “cancer” to the locker room and a “detriment” to the company. Another AEW “top star” told Meltzer that CM Punk’s value “isn’t worth the hassle” or “black cloud” he causes backstage.
I’ve said it in a prior column… CM Punk’s comments at the AEW All Out 2022 Media Scrum were highly unprofessional and he should see serious punishment by the company. He trashed the company right in the face of the CEO/President who signed him to his lavish deal. That said, the EVPs that Tony put in place have been unprofessional themselves behind the scenes and online while making poor company decisions that have costs AEW millions from potential fans lost due to their talent and creative contributions. I can understand Jericho’s take, though, from attacking the entire AEW promotion at AEW All Out Media Scrum.
But I don’t believe that he’s been a “cancer” or a “black cloud”. Only perceived that way to Omega/Young Bucks and their California Indy/New Japan clique that is throughout All Elite Wrestling. The performers who have wrestled CM Punk for the past year have PRAISED him while some of the younger stars have openly praised him as a mentor. Chris Jericho is towing the company line now with his new contract and we know that the “top star” that Meltzer spoke to was probably one of the Young Bucks, Omega, Page, or someone close to them. Obviously biased news outlet is obviously biased.
Now, as for Larry the Dog… Story broke yesterday from Wrestling Inc., as one of their reporters reached out to CM Punk’s “camp” and it was indicated that CM Punk’s dog, Larry, was injured due to being around CM Punk’s locker room door as the Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, and 2 flunkies kicked in the door! If that’s really true (Dave Meltzer is reporting that it’s not), an injured dog is certainly a reason to immediately start throwing punches as CM Punk reportedly did to one of the Bucks as they entered the room. Larry reportedly had teeth loosened and later removed because of the door being kicked by the EVPs. That is CRAZY. For one, kicking in the door is a show of force and as Wrestling Inc. reported, Punk felt threated by that action alone… But to harm someone’s animal, which is considered property to them? Yikes…
The bigger thing here, though, is that the AEW Executive Vice Presidents Young Bucks and Kenny Omega should have (a) joined the Media Scrum for a response and/or (b) have an immediate discussion with Tony Khan. Violence is never the answer unless you are being violently attacked or threatened yourself, which will be CM Punk’s defense. Those guys are EVPs of a corporation and they caused a confrontation with an employee of the company. That has “LIABILITY” written all over it, especially with CM Punk getting injured on the job with a torn triceps injury that needed to be surgically repaired. On top of that, Ace Steel’s wife with an injured leg was in that locker room, too, and that’s more liability.
Because Omega/Bucks felt that they had to be macho and confront CM Punk instead, they have allowed CM Punk to get away with openly and publicly attacking the company. Instead of the story being about the highly negative comments made by CM Punk, which would validate Chris Jericho’s “cancer” quote and Dave Meltzer’s “black cloud” quote from a top star, the story shifted from the Media Scrum to the fight in CM Punk’s locker room. The EVP’s actions caused the story to change completely and then place a spotlight on them. With that, the spotlight extends to what the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega have done in the past… Their past interactions, their creative/talent decisions, online activity, etc. are all now in the spotlight and piling on. Had they NOT attempted to confront CM Punk, the story would have been 100% on how unprofessional CM Punk was and why Tony Khan just sat there and “took it” like the weakling that he truly is.
Whether they kicked in the door or not, the EVPs created a situation where AEW could now be found liable for their actions. Whether a dog was injured, CM Punk felt threated, or Ace Steel’s wife felt threatened actually happened, the fact is that the EVPs invaded a private space without an invitation AND they brought 2 flunkies with them (Brandon Cutler, Michael Nakazawa), it makes them liable and a jury may indicate that CM Punk was defending himself. BIG MISTAKE made by guys who probably shouldn’t have been EVPs in the first place. Instead of letting CM Punk “hang himself” with paranoia or his public attacks made on the entire AEW company at the Media Scrum, EVPs showed their lack of patience and respect for the corporate process by “going into business for themselves”. Now, they are suspended and have yet to return.
I believe that CM Punk can utilize this situation, especially since he was just injured on the job, to his advantage to leverage AEW to get out of his contract without any No Compete consequences. His private space was invaded by company executives looking to aggressively confront him over words that he said. CM Punk being injured on the job will almost guarantee liability for AEW for this incident, if CM Punk choose to pursue it. If a dog was really injured, things are exponentially worse.
But would he leave AEW and rejoin WWE?
In my mind, actual ADULTS need to get together and realize that CM Punk vs. the Elite could help AEW draw money. That’s a given, but I’m guessing that after the Adam Page incident where he went unscripted, CM Punk doesn’t trust anybody from that clique whatsoever inside the ring. And you cannot undo those words said at the Media Scrum, either… But if there was a chance that Punk, Bucks, and Omega would work fans and portray their “heat” on television, it could draw some serious money.
We know how immature that the Bucks/Omega are and CM Punk is stubborn and highly sensitive… They could initially work together, but then the fuse could get re-lit by Punk.
If I were Tony, I’d just send CM Punk home and let him sit out for the entirety of the contract while taking a chance that AEW could possibly sue CM Punk for defamation due to Punk’s unscripted words at the Media Scrum. Punk would just agree to sit home for his contract rather than slinging in a legal fight, as he has experience with that pain due to the one he and with WWE after his departure from there. The “real punishment” would be letting Father Time take a few more years off of CM Punk’s body to ever perform at a higher level again, thus negating him of future opportunities.
But let’s say that CM Punk does have a stronger case against AEW and utilizes the threat of liability to GET OUT of his AEW contract…
Would the WWE actually take him back?
And don’t say “WWE already took him back”. No, he was a FOX Sports employee for that WWE show. He was not scripted by the WWE, nor did he ever appear on WWE’s behalf.
The big hurdle that is in place is Triple H, the EVP of Creative and Talent now for the WWE since Vince McMahon retired. If Vince was still around, I’d suggest it would be a distinct possibility that CM Punk could return because Triple H’s role has been diminished since 2020. With Vince retired, Triple H has regained his prior roles and his wife, Stephanie, is now a Co-CEO.
While Vince McMahon disappointed CM Punk with repeat promises that were broken, the personal issues are with Triple H. Part of the resistance of the WWE even employing and using CM Punk are due to Triple H’s influence backstage. According to Jim Ross, Triple H was constantly mocking CM Punk’s physique by calling him “Skinny Fatass”. HHH was mocking punk because he didn’t have washboard abs or veins bulging out of his biceps. Punk has a more natural look to him and as a straight edge person, he’s not taking any steroids, human growth hormones, or other muscle building or defining performance enhancers. Unlike Punk, there are no allegations of said use made unlike what Scott Steiner once said about Triple H when the WWE wanted Scott Steiner to be tested: “I told WWE to have Triple H pick me up in a limo, then we could go test together”, to which the WWE never inquired Scott Steiner to test ever again.
Then, when CM Punk dropped that infamous “Pipe Bomb” speech before the Money in the Bank 2011 Pay Per View, he referred to Triple H as a “doofus son in law” and in the contract signing promo with Vince McMahon, CM Punk further ripped Triple H by mocking his movie career. Then, Triple H suddenly became an on-screen authority figure after Money in the Bank 2011 things got worse from there. While everyone was storyline driven at SummerSlam 2011, Punk and Triple H feuded after that show. This resulted in on-screen promos where CM Punk was scripted and Triple H was totally unscripted and was shooting on CM Punk (the clip that all of you have seen on Twitter lately). Funny thing is that unlike the situation with Adam Page 11 years later, CM Punk didn’t retaliate verbally or physically with Triple or even Kevin Nash (“Waffle House chef” comments). Goes to show you the difference in how Punk assessed Triple H/Vince McMahon versus Tony Khan/EVP & Clique years later. Quite stunning, actually.
Following SummerSlam 2011, here is how CM Punk’s Pay Per View record went following that hot “Summer of Punk” run:
Night of Champions 2011: Lost to Triple H
Hell in a Cell 2011: Took the pin to lose in the Triple Threat with Alberto Del Rio and John Cena
Vengeance 2011: Teamed up with Triple H and took the pin to lose to Miz/R-Truth
Go ahead and tell me that CM Punk won the WWE Title at Survivor Series 2011. That was more of an indictment of Alberto Del Rio FAILING as WWE Champion more than it was to push CM Punk again. By then, too, WWE’s full merchandise sales numbers came in and CM Punk’s numbers were really strong. It was a course correction in multiple ways.
As WWE Champ, CM Punk rarely was allowed to win clean matches as the top star, he barely headlined Monday Night RAW, and wasn’t headlining Pay Per Views. Then midway through his WWE Title run, he turned HEEL with Paul Heyman joining his side. Do you remember anytime a babyface World Champion changed sides? He was set to lose the title during late Fall 2012, but an injury derailed those plans and the title was kept on Punk for him to lose to the Rock at Royal Rumble 2013 instead. Punk would spend most of his 2013 putting over other top stars such as John Cena, Kane, Undertaker, and Brock Lesnar while putting over Roman Reigns on RAW to start 2014.
And here is where it gets tricky… Reportedly for Wrestlemania 30, the initial booking plans were to have the following matches:
– Randy Orton vs. Batista
– Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus (again)
– CM Punk vs. Triple H
Several crazy things happened… For one, fans were NOT happy about Batista‘s return, let alone him winning the 2014 Royal Rumble to win a WWE Title shot against Randy Orton. Fans were seething at Orton for being pushed heavily over Daniel Bryan from their post-SummerSlam 2013 feud. The idea of Orton vs. Batista headlining Wrestlemania 30 was completely rejected by WWE fans who were heavily behind Daniel Bryan at the time. Bryan was forced to join the Wyatt Family and WWE was attempting to bury him, too, until the fan reaction later changed their decisions for them (like “yes” chants happening at College Basketball games).
CM Punk reportedly had it during the night of Royal Rumble 2014 when he wasn’t going to do much in the Rumble and with Batista winning. Thus, on the following day at RAW, CM Punk announced his resignation behind closed doors to both Triple H (then EVP of Talent Relations) and Vince McMahon. Triple H reportedly suggested that CM Punk was going to “work a Main Event level match with him at Wrestlemania 30” to which Punk rejected because it wasn’t THE main event. Punk wanted to headline Wrestlemania as a personal goal and was promised it several times, only for the WWE to change plans. Then, Punk reportedly dropped the line of “I don’t need to work with you, you need to work with me”. CM Punk walked out and that ultimately changed the Wrestlemania 30 plans to now have Daniel Bryan challenge Triple H in the opening match for a chance to join the Orton vs. Batista match.
Later, the WWE would terminate CM Punk’s contract and he became aware of this via mail delivery on his wedding day with AJ Lee.
Triple H would later comment that CM Punk was the type who would tell others about him being disgruntled but suddenly become quiet whenever Triple H reached out to him about any potential issues.
And here we are today… Triple H is in charge of the WWE’s Talent Relations and Creative. Meanwhile, CM Punk has a chance to escape his AEW contract due to liability threats caused by the idiot EVPs invading his locker room.
Could all be forgiven from 2011 through 2014, and comments made thereafter?
While CM Punk and Triple H have heat, Triple H had a hand at bringing Ultimate Warrior and Bruno Sammartino back into the WWE family before both of them ultimately passed away. For Bruno, the heat was primarily with Vince McMahon due to their relations from the 1980s and WWE’s handling of Bruno’s son as a wrestler. Thus, Triple H’s actions helped mend that broken fence. For the Ultimate Warrior, however, he had heat with BOTH Vince McMahon and Triple H. Remember, Triple H and the Ultimate Warrior wrestled at Wrestlemania 12 in which HHH was squashed and his Pedigree was completely no-sold by Warrior, but Triple H also participated in that attack DVD about the Ultimate Warrior. Thus, bringing Warrior back to the WWE fold had to repair a few burned bridges… And it happened. The Ultimate Warrior came back, longtime fans were satisfied, and now the WWE has an Ultimate Warrior award in his name (Dana Warrior joined the Creative Team, too!).
Triple H needs to succeed in his returned role as EVP of Talent Relations and Creative in order to further cement himself in that role. Furthermore, the TV deals are about to expire during the Fall of 2024, Triple H needs to make a big splash to help gain the WWE new TV deals. After all, WWE is totally dependent on those TV deals for operations and WWE’s media revenue category (which includes TV and WWE Network funds) accounts for 85% of their revenues! If Triple H can keep the ship afloat and gain new 5 year deals that exceed the prior deals signed for 2019, we’ll see Triple H for many years to come backstage at WWE events as the leader.
CM Punk will need time to recover from a triceps tear, 8 months reportedly. With AEW All Out happening on September 4th, 8 month from that would push us into May 2023.
Hmmm… That would be a cool RAW-after-Wrestlemania surprise…
Can Triple H forgive? I believe that regardless of how he personally feels, he has a stronger desire to be successful as the returning EVP of Talent Relations and Creative. I believe he could, but I guarantee the conditions of Punk’s return would be discussed beforehand (hopefully, it creates opportunity for AJ Lee to return, too).
Under the right conditions, CM Punk could agree to return. As the NoDQ Review suggested recently, having CM Punk vs. Roman Reigns headline a Wrestlemania (in 2024) or any series of Pay Per Views would be HUGE. Roman needs opponents badly and Punk is a credible opponent, given how Roman’s first big singles win was over Punk at the January 2014 RAW. Plus, as the NoDQ Review crew said, what does Paul Heyman do as he has ties to CM Punk, too?
Sooooooo much money to potentially be made if CM Punk returns to the WWE.
But also, soooooo much money to be potentially made in AEW if Tony, the EVPs, and CM Punk can work together like mature adults should.
If you ask me, I believe that Punk’s relationship cannot be repaired and I don’t believe that he wants to return to a wrestling company dictated on wrestlers who snitch to wrestling newsletters about so-called drama. His words at the Media Scrum cannot be undone, nor is sharing fists in a locker room.
Triple H and CM Punk never had such a fight and did business when the cameras were on. The worst thing CM Punk did was the Colt Cabana podcast but at that point, CM Punk thought he’d never return to Pro Wrestling and was airing his dirty laundry for just 1 time. Punk had plans of trying MMA and getting away from Pro Wrestling at the time.
Plus, go back and look at what both Bruno Sammartino and Ultimate Warrior said about the WWE and its employees throughout the years. Decades of it, in fact. What Punk said was light by comparison and WWE even tried to sue Punk for the medical care comments he made.
As I keep saying… Grown adults should be able to go into a room and professionally hash out their differences. THAT should happen in AEW, but I’m afraid that the parties involves are not as forgiven and there’s a real lack of maturity with the EVPs.
On the other hand, Triple H is highly professional and his only bad trait is that he’s very competitive with an ego to bruise. However, as he gets older, he’s becoming wiser and caring for the wrestlers that he’s helped groom. Becoming a Father was probably the BEST thing that Triple H has ever done and it’s giving him care for the many wrestlers he employs. Look at all of the terminated wrestlers that he went out of his way and brought back.
If CM Punk can get out of his AEW contract, I can see him doing well in the WWE for one last run, even if it’s just for part-time appearances at big shows (ironically, the thing he used to rip other wrestling legends about in the past). I hope he likes Saudi Arabia, too.
So just chill… Till the next episode!