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Hey, Can Everybody Shut the Fuck Up About CM Punk Already?
It’s as predictable as a bad guy cheating to win or a referee conveniently and inexplicably getting distracted by shenanigans outside the ring. When something good happens in AEW, like an other-worldly Kenny Omega match with Vikingo or the surprising Blackpool Combat Club heel turn, CM Punk (or his proxies) will emerge from his hipster Chicago home, surrounded in luxury by other asshole millionaires, to shift the focus back onto him.
Like all narcissists, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
And, so, every few weeks, the internet wrestling community leaps foolishly into the fray, taking up their virtual arms to fight the same stupid, futile, battles all over again. A single Punk message on social media (deleted or otherwise) or suggestive aside on Being the Elite can spawn days of discourse, all of it awful.
The discussion is both endless and discursive, the entire conversation populated by people who have seemingly never had either a job or an actual human relationship. At this point, both sides are caricatures, digital weirdos in ones and zeroes making increasingly ludicrous points to people with no interest in hearing them.
Here’s the fact set for those who may have, blessedly, somehow missed all this. Based on the limited information we have, CM Punk and the Elite were engaged in a standard pro wrestling Forever War behind-the-scenes for influence and power within the promotion. Punk, enraged by a media report that he wanted his mortal enemy Colt Cabana removed from the promotion, lashed out at his rivals at a press conference last September following an AEW event. He belittled his boss Tony Khan, explicitly insulted Omega, the Young Bucks and Adam Page (none of whom he was working with in the ring), and generally acted like a completely insane person—which, as a popular pro wrestler, he almost certainly is.
Following his bizarre display at the press conference, the Elite, accompanied by AEW’s legal counsel and head of talent relations, went to discuss the outburst with Punk. Here the story gets sketchy, but most accounts I’ve been given say Punk punched Matt Jackson of the Young Bucks several times to no effect, there was a scrum trying to separate everyone, Kenny Omega may have been bitten by Punk’s sidekick Ace Steel and a small dog was rescued from harm.
Many mean things were said.
This is all conjecture and innuendo. No one has spoken publicly in any detail about the incident and AEW is pretending it can’t address the issue at all for nebulous “legal reasons.” The Elite were off television for several weeks. Punk and Steel have not returned to the promotion at all.
Was CM Punk just exercising his legal right to slug anyone who came into his presence at an inopportune time?
Could the Bucks and Omega be “re-traumatized” by having to face their “abuser” again in the work place? Might PTSD be a potential issue?
These are the questions of the day, at least on the internet, and, buddy, allow me to tell you that they are dumb and you are dumb for asking them.
Punk fans, mad that the Young Bucks do flips in their matches among other perceived short comings, believe the Elite should just suck it up and “do business” with the deposed king. He is, the case goes, the biggest star in the promotion, a status that demands others overlook his harmful behavior in the name of the almighty dollar.
Fans of the Elite, believing Punk spews a toxic cloud everywhere he goes in wrestling, would prefer he just stay away from a locker room that mostly got along splendidly before his arrival. He is, the case goes, perpetually injured, difficult to deal with and a step too slow to work the fast-paced modern style. Putting Omega in the ring with Phil’s decaying cadaver would be like racing a Ferrari in third gear—you might still hit 85 mph, but the engine would do better at full throttle.
Other uninvolved parties in the business have also raised their banners in support of both parties. Chris Jericho and Matt Hardy inserted themselves on the side of the Elite, a wise carnie machination that might earn them a big match opposite Punk should he return. On the other end of the battlefield, FTR Bald (Dax Harwood) has emerged as Punk’s most vocal spokesman, continuing his own passive aggressive media war with the Young Bucks and explicitly looking to be part of any match that might come from the dispute.
Much of the discourse centers around how much money AEW would make by putting the rivals on opposite sides of the ring. In wrestling fan circles, how much money a match might “draw” is an obsession for many, despite the fact that WWE sells its cards almost entirely on brand power alone and AEW is so opaque that no one even pretends to know if the upstart company is in the black or mired in the blood red.
None of these fans, of course, will see a penny of that profit. Nor would the wrestlers, most of whom operate under guaranteed money deals (thanks Hall and Nash!). The only one who would benefit from that sort of windfall would be AEW owner Tony Khan, the son of a billionaire many times over.
There are plenty of solid reasons to welcome Punk back for a match with the Elite. It would elevate the ridiculous and sordid affair into something more, making a memorable wrestling moment out of what is currently little more than tawdry gossip. Forget about money—this is potentially a legacy moment, a chance to main event a stadium show and create AEW’s first legendary feud.
But only if Omega and friends want it.
The Punk contingent believes strongly that the Elite should put their feelings aside for the sake of capitalism. Despite Punk being the aggressor, the onus has been put on Omega and the Bucks to be the bigger people and support his return to the fold. But why? They are people, after all not detached automatons. People who spend chunks of every week away from their homes to put on pro wrestling shows. Why would they want to spend that time with an unrepentant jackass, let alone work dangerous wrestling matches with someone they may not trust? To make more money for a boss who couldn’t count his Scrooge McDuck riches if he devoted the rest of his life to it?
Ultimately, what happened backstage was an incredibly personal event and the people who deserve a voice in how it is rectified are the participants and the participants alone. Your opinion about ratings and what draws casuals and who can fill up a stadium or sell a pay-per-view is less than worthless. It’s noise, the kind of go-away heat that actually makes the program less valuable with each and every tweet or podcast.
I’m tired of hearing about CM Punk and the Elite. And I know I’m not alone.
It does no one any good to try to solve this problem through strategic media leaks. It works as a feud because people believe it’s real. Sorting through every detail in the dirt sheets blows all that out of the water and renders it moot. If were all told things have been worked out between the various sides, everything that makes it feel different is gone.
We don’t need to know the nuts and bolts here. That can come later, if at all. If Punk’s coming on, let him come on, even if it’s to headline his own vanity show on a Saturday. But he shouldn’t explain himself to the baying masses until he actually steps into the ring and faces the music from the crowd.
In other words, shut the fuck up. Everyone. For the love of all that is holy, shut the fuck up.