We still don’t have resolution (let along storyline payoff) to AEW’s last big backstage drama, and now we have alleged heat between CM Punk and Hangman Page, among others.
After some pointed and reportedly off the cuff shots from Punk to Page on this week’s Dynamite, we’re hearing more and more about both men and their issues. Dave Meltzer writes in the newest Wrestling Observer Newsletter that “right now there is a ton of backstage drama involving many of the top guys that has gotten much worse in recent weeks,” which obviously includes Hangman and the reigning World champ.
“The big thing that started all this is that Colt Cabana is not in the Dark Order with no angle and stopped being brought to television. He was going to be cut but Khan signed him for ROH. This is really the catalyst of everything although different people have different stories as to why it happened, including Page and Punk. But even if that didn’t happen, it was probably going to happen for something else just given the nature of the different personalities involved. It feels like a number of people are close to their breaking point if things don’t get settle.”
Punk’s issues with Cabana stem from the defamation lawsuit filed by ex-WWE doctor Chris Amman over remarks Punk made on Colt’s The Art of Wrestling podcast about his treatment while still with WWE. The former friends had a major falling out over legal fees, and any hopes that Punk joining AEW would prompt a reconciliation have long been dashed.
Meanwhile, many of the original AEW team like Hangman — and Executive Vice-Presidents The Young Bucks — are in their current positions because of self-promotion strategies for independent wrestlers Cabana pioneered. They view Colt as a mentor. Seeing him frozen out of the company they helped build would probably ruffle some feathers.
It’s a comment Page made during one of his pre-Double or Nothing promos on Punk that many think the Best in the World was responding to this week. The then-champ said:
“I have no respect for you and what you’ve done since you’ve gotten here. You want this AEW World championship — you want it? I don’t think you understand what it means to be a champion, after all these years I don’t think you get it. Because it’s not just about what happens in this ring, it’s what happens when that red light turns off. What happens when you go back through the curtain. It’s those small, quiet moments when you think no one’s watching. That’s what makes a champion. You talk a big game about ‘worker’s rights,’ right? Well you’ve shown the exact opposite since you’ve gotten here.”
The popular interpretation is that calling Punk as a hypocrite on “worker’s rights”, and perhaps the whole speech, is about the Cabana situation.
Meltzer seems to be alluding to multiple issues among multiple people, however, so it would seem Tony Schiavone and his new talent relations team have their work cut out for them.
All this might have been avoided if Tony Khan had expanded his backstage team earlier, or at least cut down on the gossip about the Cabana situation by sitting all the parties down in advance, and explained how he planned to handle it.
Or the whole thing is an elaborate work, or shoot turned into a work. It would seem strange to launch that kind of program when there’s been no update on MJF and that situation/story, but maybe they’re the same angle?
We’ll undoubtedly hear more about this in the days and weeks to come. Heck, we might even get some actual answers.
Pro wrestliing, everybody!