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CM Punk on Collision going against SummerSlam, and being on a bad night for TV

All Elite Wrestling

Top Collider CM Punk spoke to Sports Illustrated’s Justin Barrasso on the eve of AEW’s first Saturday night head-to-head with a WWE premium live event.

On Aug. 5, the eighth-ever episode of Collision will air opposite the first two hours of SummerSlam. AEW didn’t shy away from the fight, booking three title matches — including Punk’s first defense of what he calls the “Real” World title (he was forced to vacate AEW’s top belt after suffering an injury while winning it from Jon Moxley at All Out last September, and getting into an infamous brawl with The Elite backstage after that PPV).

Punk pushed back on the notion his show is competing with the WWE “Big Four” event, however. He points out that Collision’s already faced tough competition in its brief history, and has tougher competition ahead. None of it changes their approach, which he ties into his overall comeback story:

“We are not competing with SummerSlam. We are going to go up against college football soon. We have already been up against monster UFC cards every single Saturday. We are not competing with them. We are competing with what we did last Saturday. I am competing with who I was yesterday as a human being and a pro wrestler, and we, as the Collision team, are competing with what we did last Saturday. That’s always going to be what we are striving to do, and I think that’s an important message for the fans to understand.”

Despite the other live sports entertainment options, Punk sees a bright side to Saturday nights:

Collision is on a bad night for television, but the trade off is that I think it’s a lot easier to sell a ticket to a Saturday night show than it is on a Wednesday or Monday or Friday,” says Punk. “I knew it was going to be an uphill battle, but we absolutely love the challenge. I think we’ve outdone ourselves so far.”

It’s been reported that Punk has a lot of say in Collision’s line-up and booking, and this interview makes that clear. He discussed his approach to the show while praising the team he’s assembled around him to make the show a success:

“It’s a team effort. FTR is a big part of it. There is a group of people I want highlighted on Collision almost every Saturday. It’s a lot of people and it’s hard to get them in there, but it’s FTR, Samoa Joe, Jay White and Juice, the Gunns, Ricky Starks, all three members of House of Black, Andrade, and we just got Rush–that guy is f------ awesome, I want him on Collision, too–Hobbs, Miro, and I don’t want to forget anyone else.

“Give me a Statlander every week, give me a Toni Storm every week. That’s what is going to drive repeat viewers, knowing they’ll see these people every Saturday. That’s how we’ll hold a rating. It’s 100 percent a team effort.

“We want to bring new people up. That’s the rub. People recognize that. A perfect example is Gunn Club. They’re right there, and they need to associate with people who are perceived to be top guys.”

We also get some insight into Coach Punk’s message to his squad. The former WWE champion may be Collision’s star, but...

“It’s not about me at all, it’s about us. It’s not just me on Collision. It’s not one single person. Sure, there is numerical evidence that points to people selling the most merchandise and doing everything else, but all that stuff is garbage if you’re not trying to bring people up into our orbit.

“From my perspective, I have to go out there and be excellent because I expect excellence out of everybody else. Dax expects that out of me, and I expect it out of Ricky, who expects it out of Hobbs, who expects it out of Miro. We’re trying to build something out of this show. I’m pleasantly surprised so far that we are doing just that.”

Check out Barrasso’s full piece on his chat with Punk here, and follow the Real World champ as he leads his team into not-battle tonight in our live blog here.

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