Backstage AEW News On CM Punk Release, Internal Investigation, & More

Six days ago, All Elite Wrestling and Tony Khan announced that they had terminated all their contracts with CM Punk, real name Phil Brooks. His termination follows an internal investigation into a backstage altercation at AEW: All In London involving Punk and Jack Perry. Khan addressed the AEW fans in person and in video form hours after the announcement, facing a rowdy Chicago crowd moments before AEW: Collision hit the air. A few days later, Punk’s good friend Ace Steel was also released from the company; he had been serving remotely as a consultant on Collision and had previously been released for his involvement in the AEW: All Out brawl before being re-hired.

Earlier today, The Wrestling Observer Newsletter released its summary of Punk’s time in AEW, along with a detailed look at all the events that led to his termination. In the report, they reiterated that the relationship between Punk and The Elite began to deteriorate in early 2022 when Colt Cabana’s AEW contract was coming up. Cabana had apparently been offered a new deal, but just before he was going to sign, it was taken off the table.

Some speculated that Punk had something to do with Cabana’s deal being pulled, but The Second City Savior has adamantly denied that allegation. When I pressed Khan about Cabana being moved to ROH at the AEW: Full Gear media scrum at the end of last year, two months after Punk’s infamous AEW: All Out tirade, the AEW President took full responsibility for the decision.

Following Cabana’s deal being pulled, it looks like The Young Bucks and Chris Jericho approached Khan about keeping the fun-loving ROH star with the company. Khan went back to Cabana with a deal for similar money to what he was making before but would see him working largely as an ROH producer, not involved with AEW tapings. At the time, the hope was to tape ROH shows separately from AEW.

Haus of Wrestling reported that a meeting had been scheduled between Punk, The Elite, Tony Khan, and others the week before AEW: All In London to smooth things over. We know that Punk’s travel was altered to accommodate the meeting and was called off shortly before it was set to take place in Georgia. The Observer says that the Punk-related situations with Ryan Nemeth, Christopher Daniels, and Jack Perry led to The Elite turning down the offer. A source stated that The Young Bucks believed that if six months could go by without a Punk-related incident, they would meet with him, but that never happened.

One of the reasons for the meeting not happening was apparently due to AEW informing The Elite of a legal letter Punk’s lawyer sent them in regard to a Being The Elite sketch, which happened around the same time the meeting was being discussed. When Punk returned to the AEW fold, an agreement was reached between his camp and The Elite’s that no one would publicly speak negatively about the other. Punk interpreted the BTE sketch, which was about Matt Jackson blowing a sponsorship deal, as a shot at him.

As for the internal investigation that led to Punk’s termination, it was noted that Khan worked with the Jackson Jaguar and AEW legal teams, as well as an outside legal firm that does not have ties to the company or anyone involved. Security camera footage of the incident was reviewed, as well as witness testimony. Khan also consulted with some of the top talent in the company about how to handle the situation with the bigger picture in mind. Apparently, the unanimous decision handed down to Khan from all sides was to terminate Punk, which the AEW President did.