Several wrestlers joined Tony Khan during AEW’s post-Revolution media scrum early this morning (Mar. 7), including CM Punk.
Coming off a bloody war with Maxwell Jacob Freidman, the capper of a personal rivalry with one of the company’s brightest young stars, Punk was in a reflective mood. So when he was asked about things like Khan’s purchase of Ring of Honor, the company he was a keystone of during its early years, and that his history from was integral to the MJF feud, Punk spoke passionately:
“I was relieved. Let’s be honest. Either Tony was gonna buy it, or Vince [McMahon] was gonna buy it. And I don’t want Vince to own my footage. He owns enough of it and I don’t get paid off it.
“People need to understand that when I left, I was asking questions about the [streaming WWE] Network, which had not been launched yet. I was saying, ‘How am I going to paid off this? We don’t even understand what the pay scale is. I don’t know if I get paid off the date of a pay-per-view, off a buy rate, you guys already throw darts at an imaginary board and pay me whatever you want. I still get royalties, that’s the only hardcopy thing I see, DVD sales. Once all the DVDs go away and you’re putting stuff on the Network, I’m not getting paid. Or am I? Tell me. Let’s talk about it.’
“‘My guy, you’re good. Don’t worry about it.’ They couldn’t tell me. Now, I watch my royalty checks, which I still get, dwindle to nothing, because they put everything on the Network and the boys don’t get paid. That’s not just me. That’s everybody. That’s criminal.
“I loved ROH so much, and I can’t explain how happy that I am that my footage, it’s in good hands. It’s just good to know it’s in the hands of somebody who will treat it well. I literally feel like my baby is in someone’s hands who will raise the child the right way and do good things with it. And it won’t get made into just some tab on a shitty, confusing app that’s hard to navigate and the boys don’t get paid anything off it.”
Punk also reflected on his AEW run to date, seven months of wrestling after seven years off. That time off, and what it said about his love of the business/artform, were also a major plot point in the program with MJF. It’s made him grateful for the situation he finds himself in:
“I didn’t get to do this for seven years. This didn’t exist for seven years. Obviously, the truth is that i love professional wrestling very much. So to come back and to be able to, for six months, it’s not just do whatever the fuck you want, it’s doing whatever the fuck you want and being cocky enough to know that your way is, not the right way, there’s never only one right way, but to have somebody who listens to you, and can take an idea and make it even better, and just to have an open dialogue.”
It also led Punk to getting emotional about Bret Hart, one of his heroes who didn’t have an AEW waiting for them after getting put through the pro wrestling ringer. And a not-so-veiled shot at the man who played a role in ending Hart’s legendary career:
“I love Bret Hart. Bret Hart’s career got cut short. And it’s a goddamn tragedy. And there’s people who go over to Saudi Arabia and get paid millions of dollars, and it should’ve been Bret.
“And I’m just super grateful that I got a second chance. And I’d give it up in a heartbeat to give it to Bret.
“He’s the greatest. And he was right. Bret Hart was right. Bret Hart is always right.”