A few weeks back, CM Punk called out Hangman Page on Dynamite. Page did not appear when Punk accused him of “coward shit,” and reports followed the next day that his remarks about the man he beat for the AEW World title were unscripted.
That was followed with several rounds of reports about backstage drama, most of which dealt with heat on Punk for the belief he’d pushed for AEW to part ways with Colt Cabana. Punk & Cabana had a falling out when they were sued by Dr. Chris Amman of WWE about comments Punk made on Colt’s The Art of Wrestling podcast about his time working for WWE. But people like Page & The Young Bucks are friends with Cabana, and are said to see him as someone who blazed the trail they followed to become big stars without working for WWE.
Some reports said there were other issues at play between Punk and others backstage, but based on Punk’s remarks at the post-All Out media scrum, the main issue is Colt Cabana — and Hangman alluding to that issue in a promo battle on television.
AEW’s stream of the media event started with Punk already talking, so it’s not exactly clear what prompted his comments (other than current events). There’s not much doubt about anything else now, though:
“I haven’t had anything to do with Scott Colton for almost a decade. Probably wanted nothing to do with him even longer than that. It’s fucking unfortunate that I have to come up here and speak on this when I’m on my time and this is a fucking business. Why I’m a grown ass adult man and I decide not to be friends with somebody is nobody else’s fucking business. But my friends, if I fall backwards, will catch me. Scott Colton, I felt, never would have.
“My problem was I wanted to bring a guy with me to the top that did not want to see me at the top, okay? You can call it jealousy, you can call it envy, whatever the fuck it is. My relationship with Scott Colton ended long before I paid all of his bills. I have every receipt. I have every invoice. I have every email. I have email where he says ‘I agree to go our separate ways, I will get my own lawyer and you do not have to pay anymore.’ That’s an email that I have and the only reason the public did not see is because when I finally had to countersue him, through discovery we discovered he shared a bank account with his mother. That’s a fact. As soon as we discovered that fact and we subpoenaed old Marsha, he sent the email ‘oh, can we please drop all this?’
“Now, it’s 2022. I haven’t been friends with this guy since at least 2014, late-2013. The fact that I have to sit up here because we have irresponsible people who call themselves EVPs and couldn’t fucking manage a Target and they spread lies and bullshit and put into the media that I got somebody fired when I have fuck all to do with him, want nothing to do with him, do not care where he works, where he doesn’t work, where he eats, where he sleeps… the fact that I have to get up here and do this in 2022 is fucking embarrassing. And if y’all are at fault fuck you. If you’re not, I apologize.
“What did I ever do in this world to deserve an empty headed fucking dumb fuck like Hangman Adam Page to go out on national television and fucking go into business for himself? For what? ... What did I ever do? Didn’t do a goddamn thing.
“It’s not (Tony Khan’s) position to make it very fucking clear. There’s people who call themselves EVPs that should have fucking known better. This shit was none of their business. I understand sticking up for your fucking friends, I fucking get it, I stuck up for that guy more than anybody. Okay? I paid his bills until I didn’t and it was my decision not to.
“I’m trying to run a fucking business. And when somebody who hasn’t done a damn thing in this business jeopardizes the first million dollar house that this company has ever drawn off of my back and goes on national television and does that, it’s a disgrace to this industry, it’s a disgrace to this company. We’re far beyond apologies. I gave him a fucking chance, it did not get handled, and you saw what I had to do, which is very regrettable, lowering myself to his fucking level. But that’s where we’re at right now. And I will still walk up and down this hallway and say ‘if you have a fucking problem with me, take it up with me. Let’s fucking go.’”
Some of what he says here lines up with his previous, less specific statements on the “backstage heat” reports. The detail offered tonight is unprecedented, though. Tony Khan says he thinks it can be good business when wrestlers don’t get along, but it’s hard to see Punk working with Page or The Bucks again.
On the other hand, because this is pro wrestling and because AEW just started paying off another huge angle that is supposedly built on real-life issues with the return of Maxwell Jacob Friedman, there are going to be plenty of people who think this is all part of a big storyline. That angle is said to be based in reality. Could this one be too? Is it all part of the same angle?
Or is this really a case of the inmates running the asylum, to the point this much dirty laundry gets aired with the owner & president of the company sitting right there?