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Here’s the report on AEW being a ‘ticking time bomb’ post-Punk return you were probably expecting

All Elite Wrestling

CM Punk is back with AEW, with two television appearances under his belt. He’ll have another tomorrow night (June 24) on Collision, and a PPV match at Forbidden Door the night after that.

We can’t say that reports of locker room drama and behind-the-scenes turmoil at AEW returned with Punk, because they never really stopped. But the conversation around those reports seems to have intensified, as they’re now a big part of the story itself.

Especially when they come from Wrestling Observer, since Punk has repeatedly called out that outlet’s Dave Meltzer & Bryan Alvarez. At this point if a report comes from the Observer, a significant portion of fans assume it comes from The Elite or one of their associates.

Even though the Observer wasn’t the only outlet that covered advance internal reaction to Punk’s ESPN interview last week, it happened in that case. Ditto on reaction to Meltzer’s comments about “divisiveness” within the company earlier this week. Response is already much the same on this quote from the newest Wrestling Observer Newsletter about the state of things at AEW with Punk back in the fold:

“From the fan standpoint things look good. Short-term business has its very strong points. Ratings were good and attendance was very good this week. But one top name noted to us that they went home after the show on Wednesday in a bad mood and even with the key people kept apart and not on the same shows, described the fear of this being a ticking time bomb that will not have a happy ending.”

Whoever you think told the Observer that Punk’s appearance and/or The Elite’s absence on the June 21 Dynamite left them concerned about the company’s future, it’s not surprising that someone said that. Whatever criticism Meltzer’s reporting has received, not even Punk’s claimed he’s making these things up.

Is it still worth reporting? Meltzer would undoubtedly argue it is. The Observer and other so-called dirt sheets have always covered it when a “top name” is disgruntled. It’s something that happens in coverage of all kinds of things, from Hollywood to Capital Hill. And it’s often the harbinger of a bigger issue.

Or does documenting these whispers lead to bigger issues? Among the interesting things that’s happened with the story of Punk & friends vs. The Elite & others at AEW is how the coverage has been a catalyst for a later explosion. Hangman Page’s issues with Punk started with gossip about Punk’s role in Colt Cabana’s employment status, and reports on that talk were as big a focus of Punk’s All Out scrum promo as Cabana & Page were.

The coverage is now a story in and of itself. And at least in the parts of the internet I check out, that part of the story seems to be helping to turn opinion about the larger situation in Punk’s favor.

Maybe that will change as AEW travels outside of Punk’s hometown of Chicago, and the excitement for his latest return fades a bit. Whether the ticking time bomb goes off or not, we’ll hear more about. And then we’ll debate who we think is talking, and what their agenda is, and whether or not we should believe them or if we even should have learned what they we were saying in the first place.

Because that’s part of what being a wrestling fan online in 2023 consists of, apparently.

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