It certainly wasn’t the top story when CM Punk debuted for AEW, ending a seven year pause in his career as a pro wrestler. But people did wonder how he’d handle working for the same company as his estranged friend Colt Cabana.
Took a while for their relationship to become a major talking point, but Punk’s feud with Cabana’s Dark Order ally Hangman Page brought it to the forefront. Now, we’re hearing that Page and others in the locker room blame Punk for Colt’s absence from AEW. Cabana’s reportedly been working with Ring of Honor, a Tony Khan move that’s seen as a compromise between Punk allegedly wanting him gone, and people like The Young Bucks wanting him to remain in the company.
Rumors and speculation about Punk’s backstage demeanor and other’s perception of it have been swirling for weeks, ever since he brought his issues with Hangman to live television. Now, in a pre-All Out interview with Forbes, Khan tackled the Punk/Cabana issue and sought to remove blame from his main event star:
“There is certainly a perception out there that I don’t think is accurate that when I purchased Ring of Honor and also [as] some of the contracts were coming up and I was starting to make moves—whether it was renewing them in most cases or not renewing them or in some cases reassigning people—there was a misconception that was perpetuated unfairly that CM Punk had anything to do with me wanting to move Colt Cabana to the Ring of Honor roster when his contract came up.”
“I will clarify that, just to take it head on, that he [Punk] had nothing to do with any of the contracts I picked up, whether I did or didn’t. But in particular, I did pick up Colt Cabana’s contract and gave him a similar contract to do different work. I don’t know if it was fair that that got perpetuated... I also didn’t think that was fair to Punk.”
It’s good that the AEW boss addressed the issue, considering how much attention’s been paid to it. But while TK may have said something behind closed doors earlier, it also may be too little, too late. People inside and outside the company who’ve spent weeks or more blaming Punk for Colt being moved to a brand that currently doesn’t have television are unlikely to suddenly be convinced otherwise because Khan publicly backed his top draw.