On August 24, 2022, Jon Moxley defeated CM Punk in a less than three-minute match to capture the AEW World Championship. The match had initially been planned for AEW All Out two weeks later but due to heated confrontations between the two, on screen, it was decided that the confrontation couldn’t wait. It was a shocking turn of events considering how prominently Punk had been booked since his debut just a little over a year later at The Last Dance.
The following week, Moxley took to the AEW ring to issue an open challenge for All Out, which Punk eventually accepted. The two once again took to the AEW ring at All Out but on that night, Punk was able to pull off the victory over Moxley and regain the AEW World Championship. Shortly after the bout, Punk arrived in the media room for the post-show press scrum and decided to cut a scathing promo about his reported issues with Colt Cabana and the way he felt AEW was being run by its management.
The press scrum comments led to a reported altercation between Punk, Ace Steel, and then-AEW Trios Champions The Elite backstage. The altercation led to The Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, and Steel being suspended, Punk being taken off TV and everyone involved being stripped of their titles. Rumors have run rampant since regarding the future of CM Punk in AEW, much of it clouded with the news that he had been injured in his All Out match and wasn’t able to return, even if he wanted to.
Today, fans were treated to some insight from Punk that seem to shed some light on what The Second City Saint is thinking. On Instagram, The Pro Wrestling Podcast shared a graphic highlighting Fightful’s interview with Dax Harwood where the FTR member stated Punk was reading Steve Kiern’s book. Punk saw the post and decided to chime in, “Great story about Gator and Koko fighting in the locker room and then lawler drags em in the office the next day and they squash it,” Punk began. “Fascinating. Best book about a fascinating man in a strange business since Bret wrote his book.”
This is not the first time Punk has seemingly alluded to the idea that things could be worked out between The Elite and Punk. Towards the end of last year, Dax Harwood made a plea for all those involved to resolve their issues, and, again, The Pro Wrestling Podcast aggregated those comments for an Instagram Post. Punk kept his response briefer in that case simply saying, “duh.”
Some took the latest musing from Punk as proof he was open to burying the hatchet and returning to AEW but that sentiment was short-lived. Punk appears to have taken to Instagram Stories, posted the following, and then deleted it a few minutes later. We should clarify that these comments are widely being shared online and Haus of Wrestling has reached out to Punk’s camp to clarify their authenticity. As of this writing, we have not received that confirmation.
“SIGH,” he begins. “I wasn’t cleared to come back and wrestle yet. The plan was to wrestle at the PPV. I sat and listened to moxleys Rocky three idea. I explained how I’d never seen a Rocky movie. I explained how I’d never seen a Rocky movie.I an thought the idea sucked but if the boss wanted to do it whatever. He said he wouldn’t lose to me. I’d never experienced someone refusing to lose to me. I just laughed. I asked Tony if this was what he wanted. He said yes. He’s the boss so I said okay but I’d need to be cleared first. The kept saying it could just be a squash so i didn’t need to be cleared. I scoffed at that. My health is more important. Dave Meltzer is a liar. Jericho is a liar and a stooge. There plans but plans always change but I’ll never put a company above my health again.”
Punk’s comments appear to be in response to a post from Dave Meltzer on the Wrestling Observer Board. “Do you know why they didn’t advertise Punk vs. Moxley longer and why it had a short build?” Meltzer posited. “Because Punk agreed to it, then AEW got a legal letter saying he wasn’t down with it and wasn’t doing it and they didn’t know if he’d come until Tony put his foot down. There are a lot of nice things I can say about him, and you can absolutely argue his position on Moxley was correct, but you can’t argue he willingly did what he was asked in that scenario.”
Punk’s response to the report obviously casts a less-than-optimistic tone regarding a potential return to AEW. In the wake of his post-All Out comments, Moxley and Jericho were two tenured names backstage that were said to step up as locker room leaders. Jericho reportedly told the locker room that Punk would never be welcomed back and a few months later The Elite returned to AEW TV. If Moxley, Jericho, and The Elite are still in positions of power, they would seem to still be at odds with a returning Punk.
The final line in Punk’s Instagram post about not putting “a company above my health ever again,” is no doubt in regard to his exit from WWE. Following his WWE exit, Punk took to his then-friend Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast and aired his grievances regarding the medical treatment he received during his tenure, notably by WWE’s Dr. Chris Amann. Punk and Cabana went on to be sued by Amann and were eventually acquitted of any wrongdoing by a Chicago jury. The friendship between Punk and Cabana, however, came to an end during the trial, something Punk made clear in his bloody, post-AEW All Out comments.