For pro wrestling fans living under a rock, CM Punk has returned to pro wrestling again, but this time for the WWE. It may seem like deja vu for many, as it was just a little over two years ago that The Second City Savior was returning to the business after an eight-year hiatus. Punk’s debut for AEW was the worst-kept secret in pro wrestling as it was widely known he would be the centerpiece of the second episode of AEW Rampage, better known as The First Dance, at the United Center.
Backstage drama engulfed Punk’s time with the promotion in the following months and years. It began with reports that he had requested his former friend Colt Cabana be fired or relegated to Ring of Honor, something he has repeatedly denied. From there, tense in-ring exchanges with fellow talents like Eddie Kingston and Adam Page escalated the animosity until it spilled into the open at AEW All Out 2022. The opening of the press conference featured Punk, alongside Khan, deriding The Elite and making clear his issues with Cabana. Following his tirade, a backstage brawl broke out in his locker room.
In an interview with The New York Post, Khan was asked what he thought were the positive contributions Punk made to AEW.
“The First Dance was an incredible moment in wrestling and was part of a very important time in AEW,” he said. “All Out 2021, along with All In, are our biggest pay-per-views of all time, and we’ve had a lot of great success as a company as a team and in some of the most exciting times, CM Punk has been a big part of that team.”
Punk’s issues, of course, did not end with the backstage altercation at AEW All Out 2022. Upon returning to the promotion as the central focus of AEW Collision, issues began to emerge with Ryan Nemeth, Jack Perry, and others. Problems between Punk and Perry resulted in violence in the Gorilla position at AEW All In, when after Perry used “real glass” during his pre-show match, something he called out, knowing Punk hated it, the two got aggressive. Khan was present for the incident and said in a public address about Punk’s termination that he felt his life was in danger.