NJPW star KENTA has wanted to put CM Punk to sleep for years. This potential dream match is now possible thanks to the joint pay-per-view event AEW x NJPW: Forbidden Door, which takes place on June 26.
KENTA has once again been gunning for a match with Punk ever since the show was announced, but it doesn’t appear the feeling is mutual. Here is the very brief exchange Punk had with ComicBook.com’s Connor Casey about the match:
Casey: There’s a guy over in New Japan that keeps calling you out on Twitter every chance he gets and that’s KENTA. Does that match interest you at all?
I don’t think Punk’s dismissal of KENTA is a work. Given that Forbidden Door takes place in the United Center in Punk’s hometown of Chicago, combined with the real possibility that Punk may walk into the show as AEW world champion, I expect Punk will main event the card. In order for that to happen, he’d likely have to get paired up with Kazuchika Okada or someone higher in the NJPW pecking order than KENTA.
Elsewhere in the interview with Casey, Punk described how his return to pro wrestling with AEW has far surpassed his initial high expectations:
This run has been more than what I expected. I had expectations. They were pretty high. So far, they’ve pretty much shattered all that, and that’s just based on analytics and numbers of how well we’re doing. I’ve long said that I’m there for the fans in the building. Nowadays everybody is still focused on ratings numbers when cable is absolutely — I canceled DirecTV months ago. I just, I couldn’t do it anymore. It’s too convoluted. It’s too expensive. Streaming services are, I feel like, are the future. So when people look at ratings and say that wrestling is dying, I say, “Well look at our buildings. We’re selling out and we’re doing our first million-dollar gate.” So I don’t attribute that just to me. I attribute that to the spirit of AEW and everybody behind the scenes that makes it all work and makes it all click.
But the run, my run specifically, my stuff as a whole, I’ve never been happier in a wrestling ring. I’ve never, to me, been telling more fluid, better, reality-based stories. It’s been a real treat.
Punk is absolutely correct that people who think pro wrestling is dying aren’t paying attention to reality. But it’s misguided to dismiss the current importance of the television medium to pro wrestling.
WWE and AEW are the top two pro wrestling companies in the USA, and each company’s number one revenue stream by far comes from their television deals. Doing well on television is still very important to both companies. That’s one of the reasons why WWE and AEW still made a bunch of money even without live ticketed fans in buildings for roughly a full year due to COVID. It’s also why AEW President Tony Khan frequently discusses and brags about AEW ratings on Twitter.
More importantly, though, it’s great to hear Punk say he’s never been happier in a wrestling ring.
Who do you think CM Punk will step foot in the ring with at AEW x NJPW: Forbidden Door? Let us know in the comments below, Cagesiders.