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CM Punk comments on his wrestling future as Mark Henry pitches his return to AEW

Mark Henry spoke about the situation between CM Punk and his bosses at AEW yesterday (Feb. 27) while working his side job as a Busted Open co-host.

Punk remains under contract to AEW, and is reportedly close to being cleared to return from the injury he suffered at All Out last September. There haven’t been any signs the issues that led to & were exacerbated by his “gripebomb” at the post-PPV media scrum and the actual locker room scrum it led to have been resolved, however. So the return of one of the most recognizable pro wrestlers of the 21st century is in doubt.

It remains a hot topic, of course. Which is why Busted Open’s Dave LaGreca assembled Henry, Bully Ray & Tommy Dreamer for a “Masters Class” podcast to discuss the question, “Does AEW need CM Punk back?” On that show, Henry was asked whether the AEW locker room is better off without Punk. He said:

“I think that AEW is pro-AEW. CM Punk was an outlier. CM Punk was an outsider, just like I am. I’m not an original AEW, and when the shit hits the fan, you’re going to go with the people that you locked arms with in the beginning. That’s just the way it is.”

Ray asked if the originals were just the four wrestlers who founded the company with Tony Khan (Cody Rhodes, and the men Punk fought after All Out, The Elite). Henry said he meant everyone that was there at the start of the company in 2019, and who was on the roster for the “NXT/AEW wars”:

“It’s great to be brought in [after that point], but ultimately we are are still the second cousins. I feel like that CM Punk would have to come in and kind of acquiesce to that. Say, ‘You know what, I know who I am. I know what I am, and I’m gonna play my lane. But I’m here to make the business better. I’m here to make AEW better, and I think that I can do that. My personal thoughts and complaints, I’m keeping to myself.’”

Similar thoughts came up when the World’s Strongest Man said what he thinks Khan should do with Punk:

“If I was in charge, I would bring him back, and I would bring him back with him saying to the wrestling world — not an apology, but just state the facts: ‘Grown men will disagree and things will be said that probably shouldn’t have been said, and I regret airing my dirty laundry in front of the world. It won’t happen again. Do we agree on everything? No. Can we work together and exist and have a business relationship? Yes. I will not let my personal feelings, my personal gripes, and concerns interfere with business again, because ultimately, the important thing is business and I am the business and business is good. AEW is better with me around.’”

It was a version of that last quote that was shared by a Twitter account, whose tweet was then screenshotted in another podcast’s Instagram post (2023, y’all!). And it was on that post that Punk himself replied to a fan advocating against his return:

The Pro Wrestling Podcast’s Instagram

Coming back to spite the haters isn’t exactly in the spirit of what Henry’s advocating for, but it’s our latest sign Punk is paying attention to the wrestling business in a way he didn’t seem to be when he was out of it from 2014-2021.

We’ll see if he’s willing to deliver a different message to Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, and other AEW originals who may be lobbying against his return to the company after Brawl Out.

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