For weeks, the only updates we’ve gotten on AEW’s investigation into the post-All Out brawl between CM Punk & Ace Steel and The Young Bucks & Kenny Omega have been that there were no updates. The possibility of legal action was said to be holding up progress.
But then Steel was released earlier this week, and people backstage started talking (mostly off the record) about the situation again. Now, Dave Meltzer’s sources have given him a pretty big update about what’s going on with Punk & AEW in the wake of not only the fight, but also his performance at the media scrum that preceded — and helped provoke — it.
In this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Meltzer writes that AEW and Punk are negotiating his exit, but concern about the optics of Punk’s next move seem to be a sticking point:
AEW is in talks with Punk about the future but right now it looks doubtful he will be back. Those with close knowledge of the situation said they are in talks with Punk about a buy-out of the remaining years of his contract which tells you that they are not looking to bring him back.
The hold-up right now is said to be the non-compete period. Obviously if the non-compete is an issue, it’s about interest in going to WWE because there’s no need for a non-compete otherwise because nobody else but AEW and WWE can pay him close to what he was making.
Meltzer goes on to write about why WWE would bring Punk back despite the bad blood between him & many of the folks with power at the company — namely the impression they’d lured another big name away from AEW, and Triple H’s current strategic focus on surprise debuts & returns. But he also concedes that there’s a lot of bad blood, and reminds us that WWE declined to bring Punk back even when their partners at FOX wanted them to a few years back.
Neither AEW or Punk offered the Observer a confirmation or denial when Meltzer inquired. He also reports that WWE hasn’t had “any actual contact” with Punk, before mentioning that Punk is close with Adam Pearce and has good history with Paul Heyman.
Will we see the Best in the World walk down a ramp to “Cult of Personality” on a WWE show someday soon? It’s a never say never business...