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Here’s the other side of CM Punk/Jungle Boy rumor you knew was coming

AEW’s YouTube

Our latest Rumor Roundup includes a Fightful Select report of an incident backstage at AEW Collision, one of what feels like a barrage of stories to come out in the days since CM Punk mocked Hangman Page in an untelevised promo last Saturday night.

The account given to Fightful paints Punk as the leader of the Collision locker room, and seemingly the final word on whatever happens at its weekly tapings (which also typically include material for Ring of Honor and occasionally AEW Dynamite). In it, Punk takes the entirely reasonable stance that Jungle Boy Jack Perry not use real car window glass in a pre-tape spot.

Punk was apparently asked to deliver this message to Perry after he didn’t accept it from producers, the medical team, and Tony Schiavone (who in addition to his announcing duties carries the title “Senior Producer and Special Advisor to Talent” and works on the Talent Relations team). Punk also allegedly believed Perry wanted to use glass in order to get out of having to work the following week, and was taking a stance not only for his show but looking out for the entire company’s interests.

Implying Perry wanted to intentionally get hurt to justify some time off takes the rumor from a disagreement about acceptable risks into a character attack, which is probably why someone gave an alternate explanation to Wrestling Observer’s Bryan Alvarez:

“Jungle Boy had a vacation planned. He wanted to do a pre-taped angle with a car to write him off TV for that week. Punk told him no. He felt it was too dangerous to do a broken glass spot and said they cared about safety. Jungle was upset about that. That is very different from the story that Jack wanted to do a dangerous spot as a way to avoid having to go to work.”

Any mention of the Observer in relation to Punk and AEW draws accusations of bias in favor of The Elite, and while Perry isn’t a member of that group he did come up on the Southern California independent scene The Young Bucks have always been connected to. You don’t need to be a media scholar to figure out that the account given to Alvarez probably came from someone in or sympathetic to Jungle Jack’s circle.

Rather than wade into the validity of either, or even pick a side in the disagreement both versions agree on*, we’ll again point out how this appears to be another example of AEW’s structural and communication issues.

It’s not hard to see how Punk & his Collision team are worried about friends of The Elite stirring up drama in their new environment, intentionally or unintentionally. Nor is it hard to see how The Elite & friends are worried that Punk is singling them out to send a message about Collision’s culture, or for more vindictive reasons.

The company desperately seems to need an authority figure that everyone understands they have to listen to, and that authority figure shouldn’t have been involved in one of the highest profile behind-the-scenes blow-ups in wrestling history. If owner, president & head booker Tony Khan doesn’t want or doesn’t feel suited to that role, bring in someone who does and is — or make it clear who on the existing Talent Relations team has the authority, and allow them to prove they have it if necessary**.

A good place to start would be doing anything to stop this cycle of leaking unflattering stories and rumors.

Until that happens... hopefully everyone involved is smart enough to avoid another airing of grievances at a media scrum or backstage fight, but tensions will likely remain high enough that distracting incidents like this will keep coming up. And that just doesn’t seem like good business.

* The real vs. safety glass argument may have been one of the things that led to AEW’s “banned moves” list, but we’ve heard those were basically already in place prior to this, and something that might not always apply to big stars... which means they could lead to more resentments even as they help avoid others.

** Whatever his role in Brawl Out, this probably shouldn’t be current Manager of Talent Relations Christopher Daniels, whose relationship with The Bucks means Punk’s team will likely never trust him.

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