MR. TITO: News and Notes from CM Punk’s Interview with Ariel Helwani (AEW, WWE Return, Vince, & More)

As the WWE heads into Wrestlemania 40, AEW‘s top headline is, once again, how they handled CM Punk. Punk was recently on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour video podcast and the gloves came off… We heard mostly about everything that went down with CM Punk and AEW, and it just doesn’t paint Tony Khan, the EVPs, or the promotion in a good light at all.

Certainly, what CM Punk said on this podcast was his opinion… But when the AEW folks REFUSE to address what happened both at All Out 2022 after the media scrum and what truly happened at Wembley Stadium, Punk’s message is going to be heard loud and clear. Tony Khan, like a coward, has avoided any discussions on what happened during the backstage brawl following All Out 2022 and tried to paint himself as the victim of the Wembley stuff. YET, in turn, Tony doesn’t take any accountability for the mismanagement of talent in his company.

Let’s get right to brass tax here… CM Punk said he was initially excited about his AEW run, liked his return, and for the most part, enjoyed his 2021 through Spring 2022 run. That said, CM Punk said he got the feeling that he was NOT welcomed there by some. Of course, those “some” were likely to be the Elite EVPs and their stooges. Crazy thing, again, is that CM Punk boosted AEW’s numbers and yet EVPs, who could receive nice bonuses off of that success, are just jealous. Why? Punk is just a performing talent and you’re co-managers of the company he works in… Makes zero sense for the EVPs to be so professionally jealous unless they figured CM Punk would prove them irrelevant (which he did).

Then, Adam “Hangman” Page went off scripted during AEW Dynamite just before AEW’s Double or Nothing 2022 Pay Per View. From Punk’s side, they agreed on the promos and responses backstage but when they got to the ring, Page went unscripted and began shooting about Colt Cabana. Cabana was CM Punk’s close buddy and was the host of the big podcast from November 2014 where Punk had scathing things to say about the WWE. In the years that followed, the pair of friends grew apart during the WWE lawsuit that claimed defamation about that very podcast. Things were made personal when Colt went public about Punk refusing to help him pay his legal costs. Punk said he spoke with Page backstage, who was fluttering when Punk confronted him, and then Punk went to Tony.

In the weeks that followed, those same stories about “Punk causing Cabana to lose his AEW job or get demoted to Ring of Honor” kept leaking in the dirt sheets… That set the stage for CM Punk being pissed off heading into AEW All Out 2022 and Punk said, during the Ariel Helwani that he saw some of those very insiders who helped enable the Elite EVPs and their stooges at All Out 2022. See that, it pissed Punk off and that caused him to go off during the famous media scrum.

Then for the brawl after the All Out 2022 media scrum, Punk said he could not give specific details about that brawl due to the Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) that were legitimately in place. HOWEVER, and this is a big point, Punk said that none of the NDAs that he signed were about something HE did… In other words, he was agreeing not to say anything about what OTHERS did during that brawl. Wow… Thus, the NDAs are protecting the actions of Executive Vice Presidents coming to intimidate and/or get physical with a signed talent. Punk and Ariel joked about Punk’s dog Larry, which confirmed he in the middle of it all.

Interesting thing that CM Punk did was that he did not reveal how he got the Triceps injury, whether it was during his match with Moxley at All Out 2022 or during the backstage brawl following the media scrum. Sounds like someone has been talking to the legal offices of Stephen P. New. Very slick, because if I recall from the media scrum, CM Punk did NOT indicate that he was injured but it was revealed that he was injured after that night. Maybe that is what the NDAs are about, as the EVPs got into a fight that allegedly injured CM Punk? Interesting…

Punk said that he thought it was over between he and AEW, but then Warner Bros. Discovery wanted him on the Saturday show. CM Punk said that he told Tony Khan that having separate rosters, one working on Wednesday and another working Saturday, would be a bad idea but Tony wanted it anyway. This proves that Tony is just a chickensh** when it comes to anything Human Resources related and just being a manager of human beings. He avoids confrontation at all costs! So thus, it was agreed that the rosters were separate and Punk said he didn’t want the EVP stooges on his show… Which leads to the Jack Perry problems, as he at the AEW Collision show where he wanted to break the windshield of a rental car.

This gets into the most scathing thing that CM Punk said… He ripped many in AEW for not wanting to work ONCE a week for a television show, and often wanted to film backstage segments in advance to allow themselves to have like 3 weeks off. And you thing to yourself, “is that the truth” but then you realize that many talents appear like once a month to actually wrestle for AEW. He’s not lying… Much of that talent roster, assembled by the Young Bucks, are doing what they please because the EVP Bucks are NOT holding them accountable.

For this backstage segment where Perry wanted to destroy a rental car’s windshield, he apparently argued with multiple AEW backstage agents and Tony Shiavone about the spot. Punk said he cursed all of them out, according to Tony Shiavone and Tony (Shiavone) inquired Punk to talk with him instead. In Punk’s words, the conversation was professional and reasonable, even to the point that if a wrestler trashes a rental car and returns it, it will look bad for other wrestlers wanting to rent cars. He thought things were calmed down, but then Wembley Stadium happens.

Jack Perry then calls out CM Punk during All In 2023 at Wembley and on his way back to the locker room, Punk is waiting at Gorilla for his upcoming match with Samoa Joe. Punk said he advised Tony to handle his talent because if he didn’t, he wasn’t going to like the way Punk would handle the situation. As Perry comes back, they both have words and Punk locks Perry into some kind of chokehold. Samoa Joe gets Punk to break the hold, and that’s when CM Punk yells at a Tony Khan for poorly managing his talent and not holding them accountable. In Punk’s words, he claimed that he told Tony “I Quit” and walked away. Punk said that Jerry Lynn (backstage agent) and Samoa Joe talked him into doing the Punk vs. Joe match. When Punk returned backstage after the match, Perry was reportedly sent home and Punk opted to stay to keep watching the show. Later, security asked him to leave.

After CM Punk was terminated by Tony Khan during the next week and it was done in front of the wrestling crowd, this made CM Punk a complete free agent without any non-compete. THINK ABOUT HOW CRAZY THAT IS!!! One would think that you’d at least want some time for the WWE to sign him, but they could have obtained him as early as September 3rd after Punk was terminated on September 2nd. Unbelievable, but I believe this lack of non-compete was Tony thinking WWE wouldn’t sign him but also to be a peace offering due to the NDAs signed about the EVPs actions. Just let him walk away…

The big winner for the past 5 years is Nick Khan. Through his work as an agent, he probably became friendly with CM Punk since Punk was represented by his agency. Then, it was Nick who was initially reaching out to CM Punk on the MONDAY before Saturday’s Survivor Series 2023. This guy is so smooth, as he apparently arranged the FOX deal for the WWE and Punk confirmed there were SOME talks between them during 2019 to join the WWE but it just never materialized.

Punk had a long facetime conversation with Triple H to clear the air, as Punk said that something that made each other mad in the past is something they laugh at now. CM Punk also revealed it was Bayley who invited him to visit the WWE roster when it was touring in Chicago, and that’s when he’d have conversations with Miz (making up with him, actually) and other talents like Bobby Lashley and Baron Corbin. Then, he briefly saw Triple H and then soon, security was called to escort Punk out (which he expected, later revealed to be Vince who wanted Punk out of there).

Regarding Roman Reigns, Punk said “it’s all business baby”. Now, Punk is here to make money and not friends, but it’s funny that he makes friends with people whom they draw money together. Punk is still close with Paul Heyman, and Punk revealed he attended a party for his daughter during the late 2010s.

Punk defended The Rock‘s recent stuff and involvement, saying that big stars (including himself) can do things that those lesser on the card can’t. Punk even suggested that having main event rematches at Wrestlemania isn’t the best idea, but the recent twists and turns on the storyline have made the rematch interesting with Cody vs. Roman.

CM Punk said he only met Vince McMahon once, as he was somewhere with a gym and Vince McMahon was finishing up a workout there. Thus, that tells me that obtaining CM Punk was all through Triple H and Nick Khan during November 2023. Vince suggested that they meet up sometime in the future, but it never happened once the lawsuit dropped and Vince resigned from TKO. Punk did openly mention the accusations about Vince, calling them “sexual assault” at one point. Then, Punk said he was baffled why Vince McMahon would “write stuff down”, and then advises that wrestling is better without him after all of the details that came out. Compared Vince McMahon’s actions to Chris Benoit, whom Punk was friendly with before the big incident. Punk said the week before, Benoit showed Punk his son taking up his fists and placing a black “X” on them to be just like Punk. He didn’t see it coming with Chris, just as he didn’t see Vince’s issues coming up… He was shocked when bad behaviors were revealed for both. Vince tried to build a father figure with many, as Punk figures that Vince was fascinated by him because of his past upbringing.

Punk also revealed that his Wrestlemania plans weren’t concrete before he got injured (“changed a lot” and Punk said to HHH he “wasn’t here to steal anybody’s spot”), but that he no longer put the Wrestlemania main event on a pedestal like he did 10 years ago. To me, he’s realized that he’s accomplished more than enough in his career and the Wrestlemania main event is a nice thing to happen, but it doesn’t define you or your career. Good to hear some growth from CM Punk there…

Mentioned AJ Lee and how supportive she has been… Didn’t reveal much if we’d see a comeback from here, but you never know.

Several jabs in there to “wrestling journalists”, including enabling the Elite EVPs and their stooges to leak stories along with mocking the stars they give matches. Seems like CM Punk has gained a ton of hatred for working at AEW because of the insiders who are enabling the talents there by spreading propaganda and lies. In my view, this is AEW’s Achilles’s heel, and that is listening more to what a handful of insiders think (*cough* Dave Meltzer *cough*) and not what the fans think. CM Punk said he was baffled at how AEW doesn’t really want to make money, but put on the product that THEY want to put on even if it doesn’t make money at all… Many of us have been thinking that for YEARS, but it was good to a talent confirm that feeling who was once there.

Cool thing was that Punk kept saying “I wish everyone in AEW well”, despite what happened. He said this multiple times and wasn’t joking about it.

So yeah, it was quite the interview and I give major props to Ariel Helwani for (a) asking hard hitting questions and (b) letting CM Punk speak… Preparation and listening are valuable skills to have. For example, Ariel asked Punk about what he said during August 2021 about the WWE and Punk said he was focusing on a specific group of fans and more or less placating them. I come out of this interview without much follow-up questions myself, which is a sign of a job well done by Ariel Helwani.

Remember, Ariel Helwani once had an interview with Tony Khan after the Media Scrum and Tony was very apprehensive about any questions involving that while also giving bizarre responses. If only Tony did a better job explaining his side of the story instead of constantly hiding behind lawyers. I think that FACT that it appears that the All Out 2022 brawl had NDAs signed for the EVPs actions is quite telling.

If you haven’t seen or heard it yet, go check out Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour video podcast with CM Punk. Best 1 hour and 50 minutes that you’ll spend as a wrestling fan.

Tony Khan needs a reality check, and you know that he can’t blame everything on CM Punk or else Jack Perry would have returned already or returned his phone calls. The FACT is that Tony Khan is MARRIED to the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega as EVPs, along with stooges that he signed to big contracts such as Hangman Page. He’s STUCK and he has to keep riding their bandwagon that he joined from late 2018 to begin forming AEW with them.

This is damaging… Mercedes, Okada, and Ospreay have NOT created the boost that Tony was expecting for AEW, and now, we’ve returned to the CM Punk stuff. NOT GOOD.

As WWE enjoys what appears to be a MASSIVE Wrestlemania 40 weekend coming up which will actually feature CM Punk as a participant, AEW is forced to relive incidents with Punk from 2022-2023 that made the company look bad.

And remember, Warner Bros. Discovery executives LIKED CM Punk and that was the emphasis of getting the Saturday night timeslot for AEW Collision. Very shortly after he returned, CM Punk was terminated by Tony. Remember, Warner Bros. Discovery became interested in obtaining the WWE’s television rights when CM Punk returned to the WWE. Now, he’s on a podcast and just destroys the inner-workings of AEW. This could be problematic for AEW’s television negotiations and deadly if they lose this Warner Bros. Discovery deal because there really isn’t much out there or demand for wrestling content drawing less than 850,000 viewers now.

This CM Punk interview was a VERY BAD DAY for Tony Khan and AEW, and shall hurt them long-term.

AEW is starting to release talent from their roster, too… Maybe more expense reductions to come, unfortunately for many talents who are there.

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