If you asked me what the best match was during All Elite Wrestling’s All Out pay-per-view on Sunday, I’d say it was the Acclaimed vs Swerve In Our Glory match. But if you were to ask me whether the returning MJF was the biggest surprise to come out of the five-hour long wrestling show, I’d respectfully disagree. Rather, the post-show fallout, where CM Punk and AEW’s executive vice presidents reportedly engaged in a violent, physical altercation, was the main event. Unfortunately, it wasn’t best for business nor was it entertaining. It was messy AF.
According to Cultaholic, Kenny Omega and Nick and Matt Jackson confronted CM Punk after comments of his ruffled a few feathers. During his post-match interview, Punk accused Omega and the Jacksons of spreading misinformation, suggesting that he was the reason fellow wrestler Colt Cabana was moved from AEW to Ring of Honor, a wrestling promotion AEW’s CEO Tony Khan recently acquired. This rumor was refuted by Khan himself in a recent interview with Forbes. After the interview, things escalated quickly. Fightful Select (which is paywalled, but the story was shared by Cultaholic) reports that Punk allegedly punched Matt Jackson, while Ace Steel, Punk’s trainer, bit Omega before throwing a chair at Nick Jackson, giving him a black eye.
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According to a report from Sports Illustrated, Kenny Omega, Matt and Nick Jackson, Pat Buck, Christopher Daniels, Michael Nakazawa, and Brandon Cutler have been suspended from the company for their involvement in the backstage brawl. If you’re wondering what has become of CM Punk and Steele, multiple sources told Sports Illustrated they’ll either be added to the list of suspensions or will no longer be working with the company after tonight’s episode of AEW Dynamite. The glaring issue with this recent development is that CM Punk is AEW’s current world champion and Omega and the Jacksons are the company’s newly-crowned trios champions. So yeah, awkward.
The drama arguably started a couple of weeks ago, when CM Punk opened AEW Dynamite by cutting a promo to further his feud with the interim champion, Jon Moxley. However, before laying into Moxley, Punk curiously went off script and called out wrestler Hangman Adam Page for a rematch despite there not being any plans for the two to reignite their onscreen feud. It all had to do with Page’s previous promo, where it was suggested that Punk was the reason Colt Cobana moved on to Ring of Honor. After the crowd confusingly cheered for Page, Punk laid into him in a bizarrely heelish manner, demanding an “apology […] as loud and as public as the disrespect” Punk claims he suffered when he was not-so-subtly blamed for Cobana’s departure.
Sitting next to Punk during his rant was Tony Kahn, AEW’s CEO, who looked very uncomfortable and facially expressive as the world-famous wrestler went off script in front of the company’s executive vice presidents, while treating the CEO like a child. But it’s hard not to fault Khan for the situation he’s in.
During AEW’s Double or Nothing media scrum in May, Khan unabashedly placed Punk on a pedestal higher than any other wrestler in the company, saying “no one person has made a more positive impact” on AEW in terms of ticket sales and viewership. While Khan’s adulation might be true, it also gave credence to why Punk could so freely make a mockery of Khan’s status as the head honcho of the company by bull dogging him whenever he tried to defuse tension during the media scrum. Khan already said Punk is the lifeblood of the company with his whole chest, so now eyes are on Khan for whether he’ll issue Punk a suspension, let him slide for the sake of AEW’s TV ratings, or cut him loose.
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While AEW’s house is in shambles, things over at WWE are looking better than ever. During Punk’s media scrum which led to the alleged brawl, bite, and subsequent chair throwing, Punk was asked about MJF’s return to WWE. He responded by saying the “grass [is] not greener on the other side” (the other side being WWE). While Punk’s dismissal of WWE might’ve once made sense , it’s hard not to look at WWE and feel like the grass is in fact looking rather pristine. Vince McMahon has retired and the company is currently under the leadership of Paul “Triple H” Levesque. And the changes are clear.
Unlike AEW, women in WWE are now being booked properly by opening the show, with matches that last longer than a bathroom break. Former NXT wrestlers are experiencing an Uno-reverse renaissance of their own by having the stink from McMahon’s myopic creative decisions over their characters now removed. It’s ironic how four months ago WWE was on the decline while AEW was on the rise as far as public sentiment goes. Oh, how the “I am the table” have turned.
While returning WWE fans find themselves tuning in each week to see what new wrong Triple H will make right from McMahon’s many faults, AEW fans will have all eyes on AEW Dynamite tonight to see how the company handles the suspension of its newly-crowned trios champions and EVPs. And whether CM Punk will show up or not. Punk just reached his one year anniversary with the company and now he might be on the way out.
Although Khan attempted to spin Punk’s on-the-rails media scrum as a positive, saying real life beefs generate interest for future storylines during Punk’s media scrum. My man, no one is trying to see glorified theater performers try to actually murder one another in the ring. Maybe save for The Undertaker, who has a real nostalgia for the wild-west way locker room brawls used to be handled. Time will tell whether AEW rises to the occasion and runs a tighter ship where action behind the scenes won’t eclipse action inside the ring. But for now, this company is looking messy as hell.