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Tony Khan on fan reaction to CM Punk’s return & a Collision roster split

Barstool Rasslin’s YouTube

It’s a big week for AEW, with a loaded episode of Dynamite tomorrow night (June 14) in Washington, D.C. and the premiere of their new show Collision on Saturday night in Chicago.

That means even more media appearances for AEW owner/president/head of creative Tony Khan. In an early stop on his rounds, Barstool Rasslin’s Brandon Walker got Khan on the record about a couple of hot Collision-related topics.

Walker asked TK how he thinks fans will react to CM Punk’s return. He specifically asked about crowds outside of Punk’s beloved Chicago, but in true promoter-ly fashion, Khan’s response is more of a general one about what Punk brings to the table:

“Well, I think it’ll be very exciting to see how the fans react, but I’m expect a very positive reaction, particularly in Chicago for the first episode. I think then going forward — CM Punk’s one of the most popular wrestlers in the world, so certainly he’s gonna get a great reaction.

“And depending on who his opponent is and the type of reaction he’s trying to get, I expect CM Punk to connect with the crowd as well as anybody in the entire pro wrestling business. He has an amazing connection with the fans, and I think that’s part of his longevity and his mystique is his amazing connection with the crowds. CM Punk’s a really great wrestler and really excited to have him back in AEW...”

When Khan officially announced that Collision would feature Punk on the May 31 Dynamite, the reaction from fans in San Diego was loud and mostly-but-not-uniformly positive. It will be interesting to see how more crowds outside Punk’s hometown will react to him after the last year’s worth of headlines on the wrestle web. The second part of TK’s answer also teases that Punk & AEW may not be trying to get him cheered for very long.

No follow-up on how the roster is reacting to Punk’s return, probably because TK or his handlers reiterated to Walker ahead of time that his guest wouldn’t answer questions like that (allegedly for legal reasons, if nothing else). He did get some information about how Khan might be trying to ease locker room tensions.

The host again didn’t bring up that a rumored roster split could be to keep Punk away from The Elite (or Andrade away from Sammy Guevara, or Thunder Rosa away from Dr. Britt Baker, etc) and prevent future Brawl Outs. Walker instead teed it up by asking how Collision will fit in the larger AEW universe, and if some wrestlers would be exclusive to the new brand:

“I am going to feature certain talent on certain shows, but I haven’t drawn any hard lines or locked us into any kind of split of a roster. I think people are gonna be featured on certain shows, but I also think that gives us a great opportunity to showcase certain wrestlers on both Dynamite and Collision at certain times, and certain stories that can cross the shows. I think the champions of AEW will be the champions on every show, and frankly, every promotion in the world. We’re not shy about the AEW wrestlers going out and taking on the top stars, top competition from other companies...”

Khan then plugged Forbidden Door for a bit, then got back to what everyone hopes will be a key benefit of Collision:

“The roster we have is so strong, I believe we have so many great wrestlers, it’s impossible to showcase them all in three hours of television. Now, it’s a much better opportunity with five hours of television. Across five hours of television we can really utilize the roster much more frequently, and utilize our great wrestlers more than they’ve ever been used before, so I’m very excited.”

We’ll see how both CM Punk’s return and the Collision era roster management works out for Khan. Let us know what you think below, and check out Brandon Walker’s entire interview with the AEW chief here.

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