The last twenty-four hours have been nothing less than a tornado of All Elite Wrestling news. Kicking things off yesterday was the Warner Brothers Discovery 2023/2024 Upfront presentation, which featured the announcement of AEW: Collision but did not include news that CM Punk was headed back to AEW TV. A surprise to many pro wrestling fans, and reportedly several within AEW, who expected The Second City Saint to be “front and center” as part of the Collision rollout.
Following Punk’s non-inclusion as part of the Collision reveal, Warner Brothers Discovery issued a statement saying “CM Punk is not affiliated with TNT’s AEW Collision.” This very direct response to a media inquiry about Punk’s Collision status caught many off-guard and kicked off a series of stories that grabbed the pro wrestling world’s attention for the rest of the day.
First, following some light online sleuthing, it was revealed that a cached version of the Collision press release did include Punk prominently as a star for the show. Bryan Alvarez, shortly after, revealed that AEW had prepared Collision graphics with Punk on them but, for whatever reason, did not use them for the Collision rollout. On this morning’s Wrestling Observer Live, it was said that MJF replaced Punk in the graphic but everyone else remained as they had previously been arranged.
Alvarez also implied that there was more to the situation and possibly a real falling out between Punk and AEW, maybe even leading to him no longer being involved with Collision. This is when Punk decided to fire up his smartphone and take to Instagram Stories to start addressing the rumors swirling around about him. Among photos of his dog Larry, who he said is now an Executive Vice President, were two text images taking aim at Alvarez.
“Bryan alvarez doesn’t like it when misinformed internet trolls make up rumors about him so please stop making up rumors and stories for clicks while Bryan makes up rumors and stories for clicks okay?” he wrote in the first image.
The second was a screenshot of an email that looks to be from around 2010 showing Alvarez trying to make amends with Punk. The email appears to be sent following Alvarez’s reporting at the time that Punk had become a threat to women in the OVW locker room, something Punk seems to be implying Alvarez wrote because the Wrestling Observer Live co-host had a crush on Maria Kanellis, who Punk had been dating.
Punk has since gone on to share more content on Instagram Stories, railing against tribalism in pro wrestling, while also sharing more light-hearted content about how Danhausen has no nipples. That’s a real video, and it features Rancid’s Lars Frederiksen calling him a cancer at the end, make of that what you will.
Among all the sound and fury, reports began to come out that Punk has been advocating for his friend, Ace Steel, to be brought back into the AEW fold. Fightful is reporting that at Punk’s recent meeting with Chris Jericho, Jericho was the one to suggest bringing Steel back into the AEW fold as a way to get everyone back on the same page. The idea seemed amenable to Punk but it appears in the past week, Punk was told that while he could work with Steel, the former AEW agent would not be allowed backstage at AEW TV tapings.
According to PWInsider, this change of plans in regard to Steel is what created the rift between Punk and AEW, leading to the former AEW Champion being removed from all Collision promotional materials. With that said, WBD remains hopeful that cooler heads can prevail and that Punk will return to AEW TV.
As of now, Fightful is saying that plans for Punk’s return have not changed but this is a situation to watch closely as things seem to be changing by the minute.