Featured Article: Is it time for AEW to move on and release CM Punk?

I came across an op-ed that suggests it is time for Tony Khan and AEW to move on and release CM Punk. Below are some of the main parts of the op-ed. We would like to hear your thoughts on this op-ed. Be sure to put your thoughts in the comments section of this article.

The op-ed notes that in just a year, Punk went from a “bullet in the chamber” for AEW to a nuclear bomb who seems to care less about how and who he hurts in the company. When he debuted back in August of 2021 in Chicago, he said all the right things about wanting to help the younger talent get over and that he wanted to be a part of AEW as it was changing the game.

Now just over one year later, after Punk wins the AEW World Title for a second time, he sits at the table during AEW’s All Out PPV media scrum that took place in Hoffman Estates, just outside of his hometown of Chicago, and tells the media and the fans “that he’s f—— tired and sore” and that he’s “working with a bunch of children”. Punk then went on to say Tony Khan has him “working with pricks” all of the time.

Following Punk’s comments, The Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, Ace Steel, Punk, and others were involved in a backstage altercation, resulting in several talents and agent suspensions that included the Bucks, Punk, and Omega. The Bucks and Omega had just won the new AEW World Trios Championship that night at All Out. The following Wednesday on Dynamite, Tony Khan announced The Elite had been stripped of the titles. A match was held that night on Dynamite with PAC and The Lucha Bros beating Best Friends and Orange Cassidy to win the AEW Trios Title. CM Punk was also stripped of the AEW World Championship.

Punk is currently out of action for up to eight months as he had surgery for torn triceps. The initial reports were that the injury occurred when Punk took swings at Omega and The Bucks during the backstage fight. However, it was later reported Punk’s injury took place during his title match with Jon Moxley at All Out.

Should Punk be released? It has been suggested it is time for Tony Khan to cut his losses with Punk and let him go. AEW doesn’t need this kind of animosity in the locker room. When AEW first began, it was new and fresh. They were a true alternative to WWE. They signed former WWE talent Chris Jericho, Cody Rhodes, and Jon Moxley. Khan even signed on Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone. It seemed to be the place where everybody wanted to work. Now, if Tony Khan wants to keep AEW as the place to be, he needs to get a way better handle on his talent. Khan has loyal talent that he needs to look to that should be his main focus for both Dynamite and Rampage.

One of Khan’s main issues is having talent as Executive Vice Presidents. Yes, anyone can develop an ego, but did former EVP Cody Rhodes see something in The Bucks and Omega that would eventually hit the fan with Punk coming in? Khan needs to really look to someone he can trust to handle talent relations. Jim Cornette said on one of his recent podcasts that Jim Ross should be the person Khan should appoint to handle talent. Ross is no stranger to talent relations, having served in that position in WWE during the mid to late 1990s.

One thing to examine is AEW’s recent ratings for its flagship show Dynamite. The last two shows leading up to All Out saw over 1 million viewers. Following the All Out PPV, the ratings have consistently gone up each week. The chart below displays increases in both the total viewers and the key 18-49 demographic, which is what advertisers look for. Could this be that fans are curious about the controversy? Or is it proof that no one really cares that much about CM Punk, The Young Bucks, and Kenny Omega, who were expected to hold title belts yet again, which happened prior to being stripped of them? While the attendance has not been as high for AEW, if the television viewing numbers for Dynamite hold for another month or so, it will show that AEW can sustain itself without cancerous talent in the locker room.

Image and data courtesy of F4WOnline

There are some fans that still believe this is all a work to generate ratings and attention. It has even been further suggested this was all an elaborate scheme by Tony Khan to have the attention taken off WWE, who had two live shows the same weekend as All Out. During the All Out media scrum, Khan stated that he was upset WWE counterprogrammed him by holding two events during what he said had been his weekend. He even went as far as comparing this to how Jim Crockett felt during the late 1980s when the then WWF would counterprogram JCP pay-per-view events.

There have been rumors the Young Bucks had sent feelers out to WWE for a possible option once their AEW contracts expire in 2024. Would Triple H want them? If Cody Rhodes indeed saw something negative in the Bucks, how much would he be in the ear of Triple H to warn him not to sign them to contracts?

Due to the ongoing third-party investigation and legal issues, AEW and Tony Khan have not yet commented on the situation.

Tell us your thoughts on this op-ed and my thoughts. Should Punk be fired? Is he worth keeping around? Is it time for AEW and Tony Khan to move on and rely more on the AEW originals and the talent within the company that is loyal and believes in the product?