CM Punk Doesn't Think The Elite Ever Wanted Him In AEW, Says AEW Is 'Not About Making Money'

CM Punk gives a long commentary on AEW's business model.

CM Punk returned to the world of wrestling at AEW Rampage: The First Dance in August 2021. Punk's return was a celebratory moment for AEW, Punk and the wrestling world, but things turned sour less than a year into the relationship.

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According to Punk, things started to go downhill ahead of AEW Double or Nothing 2022 when he alleges that Hangman Page went off-script during their promo ahead of the event. Punk said that trust was broken and things weren't repaired, which led to his post-show comments at AEW All Out 2022 and what has been dubbed Brawl Out due to a backstage altercation between Punk and The Elite (Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson, & Nick Jackson).

Punk was subsequently suspended, but returned with AEW Collision in June 2023. He lasted to AEW All In 2023 when he got into a backstage altercation with Jack Perry, leading to him being fired.

Speaking to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, CM Punk was asked if he had positive memories from AEW, which he initially did, but then levied criticisms at the company.

"Yeah. I think people expect me to be like, ‘Blah, burn it all down.’ I made a lot of great friends there, which is ironic. The people you work with, you wind up becoming friends with. I did cool stuff. I got to work with Sting. Talk about a weird thing. It’s not even on the bucket list because it’s something you don’t consider as a possibility. I worked with Sting in the Greensboro Coliseum. It’s wild. I think the positives outweigh the negatives.

"I thought I was coming in to help. To help business. If I could teach something, great. I think I was brought in for other reasons. Their business, I know a lot of people are going to be upset, it’s not a real business. It’s not about selling tickets or drawing money. It’s not about making money. It’s just not."

Asked what AEW's business is about, Punk replied, "I don’t know. I think having good matches, maybe? There’s nothing wrong with that. I was recently at an Indie show and somebody asked me, ‘Did you watch my match?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Can you give me anything?’ I was almost faced with this dilemma where I was like, I looked at her and said, ‘What do you think I’m going to say?’ ‘You’re going to tell me I need to sell more and not do as many moves.’ ‘Yeah, okay.’ It’s a preference. It’s a flavor of ice cream. I asked, ‘What’s the house here tonight?’ ‘It’s sold out.’ Some arcade bar in Chicago. ‘What can I tell you? You sold the place out. At this level. You’re doing everything you can.’ That shit does not fly on national television. I think that’s being proven right now. Maybe sometimes. Maybe bites here and there. It’s not a sustainable business."

Asked if AEW would always be around, Punk said, "It’s always going to exist as long as Tony wants to put money into it."

Asked if they could be successful, he replied, "What’s successful? I started on the Indies. To me, successful was, ‘I can eat tonight. I have gas money to get to where I was going, and I had a good match.’ You get to television, and as somebody coming in who doesn’t know shit about television, I have to lean on people, ask questions, learn, watch grow. A lot of people are still stuff in the Indie mindset. It’s where I came from. There is nothing wrong with it. If you are more happy with some goof saying you had a five-star match and the building is a quarter full, we’re not in the same business.

"I think maybe if I looked at it that way, at the time, I maybe would have handled things differently. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I wasn’t hired to just be a wrestler. I very much had two contracts. I was a consultant to Tony or whatever the hell it was. If you’re going to tell me, ‘You can’t tell wrestlers to do it.’ Okay, great. We give away too much, so there is that small niche audience that is more consumed about what is going on in my life and this backstage stuff. I’m just glad to be out. They obviously didn’t want me there."

Punk stated he "100%" believed that The Elite didn't want him there and that they never wanted him there based on interactions and how things were handled.

"I’m sure Tony probably still wishes I was there," he said. "I don’t want to get anybody in trouble, but the whole, ‘the entire locker room hates him.’ All that stuff. Get the fuck out of here with that. That’s projection to the nth degree. ‘How are we going to hurt someone’s feelings? Everyone hates you!’ That’s fucking high school shit."

Fans can read Punk's comments on what happened at and after AEW All In by clicking here.

Fans can read Cody Rhodes' assessment of AEW by clicking here.

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