Ricky Steamboat Complimented Tony Khan After CM Punk Address

Shortly before the September 2 episode of AEW: Collision, Tony Khan walked out onto the entrance stage armed only with a microphone and folding chair to address a rabid Chicago crowd. The audience in attendance was particularly rambunctious because just hours earlier, All Elite Wrestling put out a statement announcing CM Punk had been terminated by the promotion. Punk is, of course, from Chicago, and his hometown fanbase can be particularly rowdy, so it was a bit of a surprising decision that the AEW President would allow himself to be exposed to such a hostile environment.

“Chicago is home to my family,” Khan told Insider. “I grew up in Champaign. I’ve been going to the United Center since it was first built when I was 11. My family was at the show, countless friends, everyone I grew up with. It meant a lot to go out and speak to the fans and be able to put on a great show.”

“You can’t see everybody’s face from the center of the ring. You have to choose one side of the crowd to face when you’re in the ring. And I wanted to be able to see everybody. I felt like, I’m not a wrestler and I don’t need to be in the ring, and for this moment, I thought I would just sit down and talk to everybody. That’s why I brought out a chair.”

Terminating Punk was not an easy decision for Khan to make, and it was one that he declined to comment on when pressed. He did, however, give some insight into how the vibe was backstage after his address.

“When I was done and walked backstage, the first person I saw was Ricky Steamboat, and he said, ‘That was great, you turned the crowd. You turned them around. That’s so hard to do, and you did it,'” Khan revealed. “I felt I at least owed that much to the wrestlers and the fans, to go out there and talk to everybody.”