MR. TITO: Time for Wrestling Fans to Admit that CM Punk is a Legitimate Draw
Right now, we are witnessing complete STUPIDITY spreading throughout the internet from wrestling fans and companies. On one side, you have anti-AEW fans trying to insist that selling tickets to 43,000 fans in England as a “failure”. On the other hand, you have AEW’s President, Tony Khan, and AEW’s Public Relations firm, the Wrestling Observer led by Dave Meltzer, getting into the trenches and fighting people on social media to defend drawing 43,000 wrestling fans during 2023.
FACT is that Tony & Dave should just let the 43,000 sold tickets speak for itself and STAY OFF of Social Media like GROWN ADULTS SHOULD… But the hating wrestling fans online need to recognize that 43,000 fans is 43,000 fans.
Since the late 2000s, drawing 10,000 paid fans to see a wrestling event has become an achievement, particularly since 2015 with HALF of the North American audience retiring as wrestling fans. Drawing 43,000 during 2023 is an achievement, brother, and nobody can deny that. Sure, Wembley Stadium can draw, what, 80,000 paid fans… But what, besides a top musical artist in a concert, has packed that place? You can give me SummerSlam 1992 all day, but that show was drawn with a hometown boy, Davey Boy Smith, going for a title. Oh, and that was THIRTY YEARS AGO…
Good lord… Can’t we celebrate that a competitive wrestling company is drawing somewhere? Sure, if AEW returns to England soon, they’ll probably draw less because it’s the novelty of hosting one of their top Pay Per Views there in England and it’s rare that North American wrestling companies hold major televised events in that country.
But let’s be totally honest about this 43,000 number for Wembley Stadium for AEW’s All In event… It would probably be 30,000 tickets sold if CM Punk wasn’t suggested to appear there.
Can we all finally admit that CM Punk is a legitimate draw? I’ve been in this fight with online marks since 2011 when the “Summer of Punk” erupted and have been a CM Punk defender ever since.
NOBODY and I mean NOBODY causes wrestling fans to react like CM Punk. EVERYBODY has an opinion about the man, good or bad. He’s the most polarizing figure in wrestling, which means that he’s a major draw. The man shows up backstage to visit friends at a Monday Night RAW and literally breaks the internet. Who else cared about Impact lately other than CM Punk also showing up backstage there?
Our NoDQ chief, Aaron Rift, has repeatedly said that CM Punk has “broke his website” due to incoming traffic following his antics during 2011 (I’m assuming his Pipebomb or Money in the Bank 2011 win) and for his return during 2021 to AEW. You, as wrestling fans, were scouring wrestling sites heavily due to CM Punk related events… I’ll take it further… My columns written about CM Punk from 2011-2014 and then 2021-2023 have been my highest viewed at LordsofPain & NoDQ . My infamous “I Told You So – Triple H Just Buried CM Punk” following the September 2011 WWE Pay Per View was among my highest viewed columns ever and I was writing during the PEAK of the Monday Night Wars and WWE Attitude Era.
But let’s look at some real facts for you…
(1) Viewership increased during the “Summer of Punk” for the WWE during 2011. At first, WWE was going to let his contract expire but they then re-signed him for a major deal and even agreed to pay royalty fees for “Cult of Personality”.
(2) CM Punk merchandise following his Money in the Bank 2011 win shot up, as his was tops in merchandise sales to adults for a brief period of time. Punk’s WWE merch was the only one to rival John Cena’s sales back then.
(3) As Virtue has repeatedly said on the NoDQ review lately, look at all of the top names that CM Punk wrestled during his last few years in the WWE. Hell, for 2013, he wrestled against John Cena, the Rock, the Undertaker, Kane, and Brock Lesnar. Heck, he was able to even wrestle all 3 members of the Shield at once!
(4) Able to walk away from wrestling during 2014 and make a sustained living based on his celebrity for over 7 straight years. Then, returns to AEW to become the highest paid wrestler.
(5) Attracted the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to sign him to a deal. He performed on 2 shows… Sure, he lost both fights, but who else gets elevated that quickly to appear on a UFC card and at that age?
(6) Draws really well with AJ Lee. Ohhhhhhh yeah!
(7) Since 2014, WWE fans have repeatedly chanted for “CM Punk” at various events.
(8) FOX Sports signs him to a deal to appear on their WWE themed show.
(9) Joins AEW, makes Chicago and surrounding Midwest territories viable as drawing live events.
(10) Smashes AEW merchandise sales records upon joining the company.
(11) First million dollar gate for AEW was with CM Punk on the show.
(12) AEW went from struggling to be above 900,000 viewers for AEW dynamite to repeatedly breaking through 1,000,000 with CM Punk on the show.
(13) Since CM Punk left AEW, they’ve been consistently under 1 million, if not consistently under 900,000 viewers.
(14) Discovery Warner Bros. executives are willing to give AEW a Saturday timeslot on TNT just to have a show with CM Punk on it. Willing to pay the company any extra $50 million annually for that show as long as CM Punk is on it.
(15) Despite badmouthing AEW at the Media Scrum following All In 2022 and then apparently delivering the first punch across an EVP’s head, CM Punk is allowed to return to his job. Why? Because he draws, baby.
And I could list more, if I needed to… CM Punk is a legitimate draw to Pro Wrestling, period.
Now, you could argue he’s polarizing or controversial and that’s what drives the numbers. So? This is PRO WRESTLING where being polarizing and controversial DRAWS MONEY. John Cena was polarizing with younger fans loving him, but adult fans hating him. Yet, BOTH demographics attended to either support Cena or to see him get his arse kicked. Remember how much joy the adult fans had when they saw John Cena being taken to “Suplex City” at SummerSlam 2014? Being controversial gets people talking about pro wrestling, whether it is for real or a wrestling angle.
Look at who is polarizing in society… Donald Trump, Kanye West, the Dallas Cowboys, Lebron James (those damn Jordan GOAT debates), or literally anyone trying to inject politics into any forms or entertainment or sport. With Donald Trump, you either support him or you vote against him… Either way, everyone has an opinion on him… But that sells in the wrestling business, bigtime, because you have the ability see them triumph or get their arse kicked inside a wrestling ring.
If I were the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega, I’d recognize this gravy train and do my best to get on it. Seriously… Bucks and Omega are so proud at EVPs and believe in their own hype because people in California or Japan might like them… But the rest of the world struggles with ya… Yet, this golden opportunity has arrived to draw serious money by being villains against CM Punk. Apparently, the EVPs aren’t willing to play ball and hence why we have this Saturday show situation.
Again – If CM Punk wasn’t a draw, then he’d be let out of his AEW contract already for the “mess” that occurred during last year before and after All In 2022. Many of you criticize Tony for being stupid, but he’s not that stupid… He knows that CM Punk is his top draw and he’ll try to make things work. Yet, where Tony’s stupidity kicks in is with having the Young Bucks, in particular, as EVPs because they’ve created a very sloppy tag team division at a time when it could have been truly elite. The Dark Order is seriously the worst thing ever and the Bucks were the ones who brought them in and have been pushing them hard for 4 years now.
Of course, many will attempt to point to CM Punk’s November 2011 through January 2013 title reign as a “failure”. Several facts for you to review and consider.
(a) As WWE Champion, CM Punk rarely headlined RAW.
(b) As WWE Champion, CM Punk rarely headlined Pay Per Views.
(c) In the middle of his WWE Title reign, CM Punk was turned into a heel. Has that ever happened, where an existing World Champion changed sides?!?
Then, when he was just wrestling for the sake of in-ring performances without the WWE Title during 2013, his matches with the Undertaker and CM Punk are among the all-time great WWE matches. Punk stole the show at Wrestlemania and then had Lesnar’s best ever match at SummerSlam.
These are just simple facts, folks… CM Punk is a draw and in my view, BOTH the WWE and AEW squandered him.
WWE in 2011 had a long-term plan of pushing Alberto Del Rio to the WWE Title at SummerSlam 2011 and refused to break it. Then, Triple H wanted to push his “Chief Operating Officer” character from the Authority and his poor ego got bruised when Punk mocked him as the “doofus son-in-law” during the Pipebomb speech and making fun of his movie roles during Punk’s promo with Vince. WWE buried him and then kept him from any major wins following 2011, even as WWE Champion and then putting over everybody during 2013.
Tony Khan is at the mercy of his Executive Vice Presidents, even when the leak information to the Wrestling Observer Public Relations Firm and convince Adam Hangman Page to shoot on CM Punk about Colt Cabana. Tony is such a weak leader that he did NOT stop CM Punk from mocking his company at that 2022 All In Media Scrum. Had CM Punk did that in the WWE with either Triple H or Vince McMahon sitting there at the table, he’d be a dead man for trying to publicly humiliate the WWE brand or its management. Instead, Tony just sat there and took it like the chump that he is.
Let me give you these alternate scenarios on what COULD HAVE BEEN for CM Punk…
Hypothetically during 2011, CM Punk cleanly defeats Triple H at the September 2011 Pay Per View and then immediately challenges Alberto Del Rio at the October 2011 Pay Per View. Back on track as WWE Champion and then proceeds to headline most RAW/Pay Per Views for the next year. Punk would have been HUGE if the WWE Creative Team, Vince, and Triple H would have embraced Punk instead of trying to bury him. He should still be with the WWE had that plan been put in place.
Alternatively in AEW, if Tony Khan would have raised hell over Adam Page’s promo and punished Page plus the Bucks for setting him up, then things would be OK in the WWE locker room and that 1 page promo incident would have been isolated. Punk wouldn’t have went home. Furthermore, I’d argue that being pissed off at your own company due to Page/Bucks may have caused some of the injuries to Punk… When you’re thinking about other things, you take your mind off the performance. Think about driving a car when you’re really pissed off…
FACT is that both WWE and AEW have mishandled CM Punk and could have had an elite draw on their hands if they promoted him instead of trying to bury or attack him. It’s also a FACT that CM Punk has draw despite this resistance from both WWE and AEW to push him hard as the top guy.
Hopefully, the AEW EVPs can cool down and realize that they could make serious money working with CM Punk. If not, the WWE appears like they’d entertain taking him back. All CM Punk has to do is smooth over his relations with Triple H and he’ll be back.
Let’s STOP, however, insisting that CM Punk isn’t a draw. He appeared in a locker room to say “hi” to a few old friends and it headlined news stories for an entire week!
CM Punk = MAJOR DRAW, period, end of story.
So just chill… till the next episode!