The announcement of AEW’s new show Collision was supposed to bring about the end, or at least the beginning of the end, of the CM Punk drama that’s been hovering over the company for the past year or so.
But when the news about that show coming Saturdays to TNT finally arrived this morning (May 17), Punk’s name was nowhere to be found. At least not in the version of the press release that was finally sent out. The headline of an earlier version that was seemingly sent out accidentally included Punk, and prompted a curious denial about his involvement from AEW’s partners at Warner Bros Discovery.
Now, reports are starting to come in about what’s going on.
Per Fightful Select, there are still plans in place for Punk’s return to AEW. Sean Ross Sapp writes that while these things can always change, the company has “active content plans with Punk as of this week”.
Punk is said to have been in contact with Tony Khan regularly, and had made it known he didn’t want to be announced for Collision too far ahead of its schedule June 17 premiere. It’s not clear that’s the reason he was removed from today’s presser, however.
Sapp’s post also mentions that he heard from sources weeks ago that Ace Steel could be brought back to AEW along with Punk. Steel was widely reported as fighting with Punk against Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks in what’s become known as Brawl Out, the locker room incident that followed Punk airing his grievances with The Elite and others during hte post-All Out media scrum last September. Word was Steel had been fired in October of 2022 as a result of his involvement in that fight.
PWInsider’s latest report on the Punk/Collision story also includes Steel. Mike Johnson writes:
The belief among those we’ve spoken with is that Steel was expected to return in conjunction with Punk next month, working behind the scenes.
However, the story making the way around AEW backstage today at Dynamite is that a decision was made that Steel would not be working backstage at the actual Collision tapings.
As you might imagine, that left Punk and AEW on opposite sides of the discussion, which in turn led to Punk being removed from all promotional material released for the AEW Collision series today.
As corroboration, Johnson mentions that Impact Wrestling expressed interest in bringing Ace Steel in for a tryout, but he passed on the invitation several weeks ago. That led Insider’s Impact sources to believe Steel was either returning to AEW or heading to WWE.
Johnson closes his report by mentioning WBD’s statement about Punk not being affiliated with Collision and adding that that is correct... at least right now, based on what he’s hearing.
UPDATE: Punk has responded to today’s news cycle. You can read about that here.