MR. TITO: Time for AEW and Tony Khan to Cut Ties with CM Punk

Multiple things can be true at the same time: Tony Khan is an immature and disorganized President, active wrestlers should NOT be Executive Vice Presidents (EVP), and CM Punk has become a bitter and jaded pro wrestler that is difficult to deal with. Thus, if you’re reading this column and thinking that it’s going to be anti-Punk, then go back and read my columns archive here at NoDQ along with my past columns from my previous place, such as the time I declared CM Punk as “buried” during September 2011 when he lost to Triple H and Punk’s actual response on Twitter was “buried in money” to my column.

Therefore, for what I’m about to write, don’t think that I’m anti-Punk because I’ve heavily supported the guy. I was hoping that AEW would sign him and give him a chance. I was delighted when they signed him and loved his return.

But the facts have changed.

And a pattern of behavior has emerged.

It’s time for All Elite Wrestling (AEW) to realize that CM Punk is no longer good for their company and is a Human Resources + Public Relations problem that won’t get resolved.


– Adam “Hangman” Page shot on CM Punk during AEW Dynamite regarding Colt Cabana being moved from the AEW roster to Ring of Honor.

PUNK’s RESPONSE: Cut an unscripted promo on Adam Page several months later, which nobody knew was coming.

– Members of the Elite kept spreading information to dirt sheets (or Meltzer) about CM Punk getting Cabana transferred to Ring of Honor. Tony Khan met with the Young Bucks in particular and released a statement to counter these rumors.

PUNK’s RESPONSE: Following the 2022 All Out Pay Per View, CM Punk went on the attack during the Media Scrum using vulgarity, attacking Adam Page, ripping the EVPs, and declaring “I work with children”. Completely unscripted.

– Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, 2 flunky wrestlers, and a few other backstage officials went into CM Punk’s locker room. Whether that entrance was forceful or not, as both sides conflict that story, CM Punk did throw the first punch on one of the Young Bucks.

– Most participants on that incident were briefly suspended, but all have been returned. Technically speaking, CM Punk was suspended as he was recovering from an injury.

– Warner Bros. Discovery gave AEW a Saturday Night timeslot under the condition that CM Punk would be brought back.

PUNK’S RESPONSE: He’ll return, but he has creative control over that show and that includes talent. Anyone associated with the Elite has been disallowed to appear on the show.

– After one such AEW Collision show, CM Punk ridiculed Adam “Hangman” Page’s inability to move action figure merchandise. Reportedly, Punk actually apologized for this incident.

– CM Punk reportedly gets into a shoving match with Jack Perry (formerly Jungle Boy) over the decision to use real glass or not for a spot at Wembley’s All In event, the biggest AEW event ever. Punk eventually had him in a chokehold before everything was broken up.

This last incident is ridiculous… For one, why are you picking fights with a midcarder? Secondly, why not let him learn his lesson by getting banged up going through a real windshield instead of a gimmicked one? Lastly, is this worth getting into a fight backstage at AEW’s biggest show ever?

Look, AEW is a hot ungoverned mess… You don’t have to tell me twice, as I quickly noticed how bad things became immediately following the 2019 Double or Nothing show. With few exceptions, active wrestlers don’t do well with managerial or creative duties given to them and are often self-serving. Plus, being a pro wrestler is HARD WORK in the first place, and focusing in on that while trying to manage a wrestling company usually doesn’t work out. Hence why Kenny has botched the women’s division and why the Bucks have a hot mess with the tag team division. Going further, look at what Cody Rhodes enabled while he was EVP…

All of the facts were there when CM Punk elected to sign an AEW contract during 2021. He still signed, and yet he’s shocked with the Elite clique backstage starts to mess with him.

HOWEVER – Rather than handling things like men and discussing things behind closed doors, we have public displays of unprofessionalism.

– Cuts unscripted promo on Adam Page
– Cuts unscripted execution of the entire AEW following 2022’s All Out PPV during the Media Scrum
– Throws first punch following that Media Scrum
– Cuts unscripted promo on Adam Page about unsold action figures
– Gets into a backstage fight at Wembley Stadium, AEW’s biggest show ever, with Jack Perry

Yes, AEW’s backstage is full of trolls and bad management. No disagreements here. But Punk is lowering to their levels and giving them the EXACT response that they want. He has fallen into their trap because the Elite wants him OUT of AEW. Instead of just letting the Elite expose themselves for pushing crap onto the dirtsheets and being unprofessional themselves, CM Punk has given them reason for their cause to want him out.

But there is more to this pattern of behavior…

– When Rock returned to WWE, reports were Punk was the one sending leaks to dirtsheets about WWE wrestlers being upset at part-timers.
– Various WWE officials, including Triple H, are documented in saying CM Punk was not open to discussion on any matters. They’d hear backstage chatter that he was upset about something, but he’d deny it when they inquired.
– Quit the WWE abruptly following Royal Rumble 2014, which changed Wrestlemania 30 plans.
– Attacked the WWE during November 2014 regarding Colt Cabana’s podcast, revealing backstage details, alleging steroid use of Triple H, and poor medical treatment (which caused a defamation lawsuit).
– Personally attacked the Miz, which he reportedly apologized recently at a WWE show personally to him.

But there were reports for years about CM Punk being sometimes difficult to work with… WWE would have released him had Paul Heyman not stood up for him. But reportedly, his in-ring style was hard to translate for WWE prospects and he was a bit stubborn to alter his style towards what WWE wanted. Once in the WWE, there was a backstage issue with the Undertaker about professionalism backstage which led to one of Punk’s early title reigns ending much earlier than planned. Then, the “Pipebomb”. As much as we love that promo, he said some rough things in that promo about WWE officials and would continue to say things on the mic about those same WWE officials for the weeks to come. This created bad relations with Triple H, who already wasn’t a fan of Punk to begin with, that would keep bubbling until CM Punk left before the RAW following Royal Rumble 2014.

There’s no denying that CM Punk is a great wrestling talent who has charisma, personality, great mic skills, etc… One of his pillars was that he was a good in-ring talent. However, that pillar is starting to crumble as he’s in his mid-40s and can’t quite work the style that he could in his 40s. He’s also becoming more injury prone, though to be fair, he was getting injured somewhat often during 2012-2013 while in the WWE, too.

If CM Punk’s in-ring ability isn’t there and he’s more prone to injuries, is he really worth the Human Resources & Public Relations troubles? Is he worth the liability issues from other wrestlers?

Sometimes, you just have to admit mistakes and move on. Look at the San Francisco 49ers. They completely botched trading up to draft quarterback Trey Lance and did so by giving up 2 future First Round draft picks and swapping another. That team is loaded and ready to win now, but not with Trey. The 49ers just traded Trey Lance to the Dallas Cowboys for a 4th round pick. Ouch…

I’m guessing that AEW probably signed CM Punk for a 3-5 year deal. We’re 2 years into it. I’m guessing that AEW is paying him around $2-3 million per year? Just let him sit at home for the remainder of the contract and use his likeness, as needed, to recoup some of the funds. For example, if AEW makes a sequel to their AWFUL Fight Forever video game, he could appear in that or if they make a mobile video game, etc.

Or just release him…

Let him return to the WWE. Why not?

WWE has a good thing going right now and the locker room is quite unified. Many wrestlers who remember Punk from 2012-2014 don’t exactly have good vibrations from him, as Seth Rollins has spoke out against him for example. And again, Punk has been dogging the Miz for years and only recently realized he needed to apologize to him.

Granted, the WWE has made-up with wrestlers in the past whom they were involved with litigation, creative disputes, or other issues. Bruno Sammartino, Ultimate Warrior, and Hulk Hogan. Guys like Randy Savage, Lex Luger, and Jeff Jarrett were 3 wrestlers where things were very personal and they never really came back. Savage began to allow his likeness to be used, Luger has been involved in documentaries, and Jarrett was a producer briefly (until Triple H returned and axed him). Jarrett was allowed into the Hall while he was alive, Savage was added after he passed away. Luger has not been added to the Hall of Fame yet.

CM Punk accused Triple H of somethings on the November 2014 podcast that are hard to forgive, along with accusing WWE of things as well which Vince McMahon would take personally. While I believe CM Punk would be more afraid to go public with things while he’s under WWE contract, as Vince still rules with an iron fist and I don’t believe Punk would swing a punch at Triple H, it’s still not a risk WWE is willing to take on a wrestler in his mid 40s. There would need to be a major mending of fences, I believe, for the WWE and CM Punk to ever do business again.

But why return to the WWE? Go prove your worth and make TNA, NWA, or other Indy promotions worth their salt? If you’re as good of a draw that many suggest that you are, any promotion can grow with you and your ice cream bars.

I think with AEW, it’s just not working out… They can just send him home or release him. The financial loss will suck, but so does having incidents during your biggest show ever. Then, let the WWE take on the baggage. Sure, AEW will be stuck with the Elite, but at least the Elite isn’t publicly slandering their own company, its members, etc. They are weasels that Tony must deal with over the next 4 years thanks to the extensions that he gave each (Page, Omega, & Bucks). However, it’s apparent that CM Punk doesn’t want to be there and could be a continuous HR nightmare for the company. Getting into a fight with Jack Perry? Really?

For CM Punk, self-reflection is needed… Why have bigtime runs in the WWE and AEW eroded so quickly? While both can be trainwrecks, not every pro wrestler shares the same experience as you. I have YET to see anyone go on a Media Scrum and attack their own company, while fights backstage are few and far between these days. Something is wrong and if nothing is pulled back, his long-term association with pro wrestling could be gone forever. He needs some trusted veterans, like Foley or Austin, to sit down with him and share experiences of brushing up with management of promotions.

That Media Scrum incident remains the most insane thing that I’ve EVER seen in pro wrestling, as I’ve never seen an existing employee shred their company and its employees like that. Honestly, it’s a miracle that he’s back for AEW Collision and had it not been for Warner Bros. Discovery, he’d still be gone. Now, thanks to fighting with Jack Perry, he’ll be gone anyway and Warner Bros. Discovery executives are going to be angry from the egg that was thrown at their faces. With Punk gone, the viewership will really tank on Saturday Nights and that will spell problems for AEW.

AEW should have cut their losses after that Media Scrum, but now, they have to deal with the consequences of being a disorganized company who cannot manage its own talent.

What a disaster and what a shame. This CM Punk/AEW run could have been great, but cooler heads just didn’t prevail.

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