All day yesterday, the wrestle web was buzzing about an interview CM Punk was said to have done with ESPN to promote his return to AEW on the premiere of Collision tomorrow night (June 17). Part of the buzz was due to reports the AEW locker room was buzzing about whatever Punk said in the interview, which presumably included negative comments about The Elite or other “anti-Punk” members of the AEW roster.
Well, that interview is here. And while Punk’s comments to Marc Raimondi aren’t quite as incendiary as some imagined, there’s still a lot to dig into.`
Turns out, the main person who Punk still has beef with is Hangman Adam Page. Page’s “worker rights” comment from a promo last spring was in reference to rumors Punk was trying to get Punk’s former and Page’s current friend Colt Cabana fired from AEW. About that promo, Raimondi writes:
Punk said he and Page discussed backstage before the segment what they would say, much as Punk said he did for similar segments in the past with wrestlers such as MJF and Eddie Kingston. But when they got into the ring, according to Punk, Page strayed from what they had agreed on...
According to Punk, Page told him he said what he did because Punk had AEW wrestler and coach Colt Cabana fired from the company, or at least tried to. Punk and Cabana had a very public falling-out years ago, before Punk arrived in AEW, that included multiple lawsuits. Punk said he told Page that that was not true and that Cabana still worked for the company.
Punk told Raimondi the same thing he said in his infamous appearance at the post-All Out Media Scrum last September: he has no relationship with Cabana today, but he also “never” asked Tony Khan to fire his fellow Chicagoan (which Khan has publicly confirmed). He did explain why the “worker’s rights” promo led to issues with his main event match with Page at Double or Nothing 2022:
“And I proceed to have what I think is a garbage match because I’m trying to protect myself on stuff instead of actually just working and trying to put on the best performance I can,” Punk said. “I’m keeping an eye out. He chopped me in the mouth one time, and I’m just like, ‘OK, did you do that on purpose?’ You chip my tooth, and I’m like, ‘All right, should I give him a receipt?’ It changes the dynamic. It poisoned everything for me, and it made it all really, really ugly, and that was what set all of this off, and here we are over a year later and ain’t s--- been done about it.”
In the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer wrote that Punk is able to talk about Page because he was not involved in the post-scrum brawl, so he’s not covered under the non-disclosure agreements believed to have been signed by Punk, The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson), Kenny Omega & Ace Steel about that incident. But as the last line of the above quote indicates, Punk still has issues with how things were handled, and presumably some of the people involved in that process (or lack thereof).
He spoke to Raimondi about reports that he and The Elite have not had contact, and confirming he’s tried to reach out to set-up a sit down to hash things out. From the ESPN piece:
Punk said he has not had any conversations with Omega or the Jacksons since the incident, although he has tried. He said when he has reached out, he has gotten “messages from lawyers saying, ‘Do not contact this person.’” Punk said he is unclear whether those responses came at the request of legal representatives of Omega and the Jacksons or a third party.
Apparently, Raimondi got similar responses while putting together his article:
Khan and Page were unavailable to comment for this article, according to AEW. When reached for comment via email, Cabana said ESPN should go through AEW “for everything.” Omega and the Jacksons declined to comment via their agent Barry Bloom.
One person Punk has spoken to is AEW owner, president & head of creative Khan, and Punk says the first thing he did was apologize for something almost everyone agrees was an unprofessional move on his part — using the All Out scrum to air his grievances about The Elite, Cabana, and virtually everyone involved in the rumors he was trying to get Colt fired:
“The first thing I said to Tony when I sat down with him and spoke to him after it was, ‘Man, I’m really sorry I put you in that position.’
“I apologize for the scrum. But when you’ve watched that scrum, you’re looking at a very, very frustrated guy who had told people. That’s not the first time he heard all that. It’s not the first time lawyers were told all that. And I was just looking for something to be done and nothing got done. So, if you want something done right, you got to do it yourself. And I just didn’t approach it in the right manner, but tension was high. I was very, very pissed. I pretty much knew that I had just injured myself again. I was hurt, and I was disappointed. Yeah, it’s very easy for me to say I regret that and I handled it the wrong way, 100%.”
Regarding the backstage fight that followed his remarks (commonly referred to as “Brawl Out”), there’s no apology. Punk can’t say much there, telling Raimondi “he doesn’t like saying ’no comment’ but that ‘we are trying to move past what happened that night specifically.”’
“I don’t think what happened was a big deal...” Punk said. “This has happened in the last 10 months in hockey, in basketball, in baseball, in just about every sport. And it’s covered and it’s gone the next day. I think because I have injured my tricep and I’ve been out for so long, I think it has been exacerbated. I think it’s been exacerbated by people spreading lies about the whole thing. And when, in reality, my attitude is, well, s--- happens.”
He also says he’s been told the issues between himself and others will not be used for on-screen storylines, but he seems to have wanted to talk with ESPN because “he resents that he’s been painted as ‘the bad guy’ in online reports when he feels he’s just been defending himself. Punk said people in the AEW locker room leaking things to the wrestling media have contributed to the internal drama.”
“Now we all got to roll in the f---ing mud, and that never should have happened and has never been course-corrected,” Punk said. “So, I understand people want to say that, ‘Oh, man, Punk is a dick.’ Well yeah, because I’m defending myself and I will always defend myself. I’m open to have a full-blown f---ing sit-down powwow discussion with everybody about it. But it hasn’t happened yet, and it’s not because of my lack of trying.”
Despite what happened and what sounds like a roster with a lot of unresolved issues, contrary to some reports over the past nine months, Punk says he never considered retiring while recovering from surgery to repair the triceps he tore at All Out.
“I certainly had some low moments, and I won’t rule out in those fleeting moments where I just say, ‘Ah, f--- this, whatever,’” Punk said. “But I don’t ever think it was a serious intention to say that I’m done. There’s still work to do, and I think I’m excited about a lot of stuff that’s coming up. So, to just throw the baby out with the bathwater, just because of a little boo-boo, I think would be a little silly.”
Punk also said he’s looking forward to the challenge of being the “poster boy” for Collision, and trying to sell a show on a tough night of the week for ticket sales and ratings. He also put over the new show as a big opportunity for young talent who’ve struggled to get television time on Dynamite, specifically shouting out a pair of his supporters in Powerhouse Hobbs & Ricky Starks.
You can read all of an article that’s sure to remain a hot topic this weekend and beyond here.