With rumors of AEW starting a new two-hour show for Saturday nights, that also brings in rumors of a brand split. Even though splitting the roster is understandable for logistic purposes, there are concerns about dividing the talent pool. The primary issue revolves around rumors that AEW is accommodating CM Punk and the Elite to keep them separated after the Brawl Out.
In terms of public image, perception can become reality. Whether or not these vague rumors about splitting Punk away on a separate show from the Elite (and Elite associates) are true, AEW needs to nip it in the bud either way. The problem is that this story is making AEW look like petty children who can’t control their emotions to do the job they are being paid for. If AEW lets that perception fester, then it will take on a life of its own.
As an example, I point to AEW’s handling of Colt Cabana once Punk came aboard. It is known that Punk harbors a grudge toward Cabana, then Cabana conveniently went missing completely from AEW programming. Management never made a public effort to debunk any rumored diva demands from Punk.
Whether or not Punk had any part of this Cabana decision, the perception in the locker room was that he did. One thing led to another. Hangman Page aired veiled grievances in a live promo, Punk returned the favor later, and Brawl Out was a direct effect.
I would expect similar locker room strife to percolate if AEW is too scared to book Punk and the Elite on the same shows. It’s only natural that tribes will form when secluded from one another in a roster split.
It is time for the adults to take control of the situation. I’m not saying Punk and the Elite have to wrestle each other. That is a bridge to cross later. The first step that has to be addressed is booking them on the same show, at least for the new program’s debut. If AEW wants to make a splash on the first episode, then why wouldn’t they want all their stars to be there on night one. It would act as an icebreaker and quiet the notion that Punk and the Elite are being babies.
If AEW wants to take it a step further, they can mock the rumors with a simple backstage scene. I’m imaging something like Punk walking the hallway and passing the Elite eating cupcakes. No words need to be exchanged. This would fit into the humor from Being the Elite, and it would not ruin any future blurring of the work/shoot lines in the event of a storyline revolving around Brawl Out.
Personally, I would book Cabana as Punk’s return match. That would immediately change the public’s perception of Punk in turning a new leaf to move on for what’s best for business.
It’s funny that Eddie Kingston and Sammy Guevara of all people can be used as role models for Punk and the Elite. Kingston and Guevara had physical beef backstage. The animosity was squashed enough to work a singles match. Compare that to rumors of Punk and the Elite who can’t even be in the same building together. Grow up.
The point is that all this rumored roster split drama is bad for AEW’s image. They need to be proactive in remedying this.
What do you think is the best plan of action to deal with CM Punk and the Elite once the new weekly show begins?