All Elite Wrestling (AEW) is in talks with CM Punk to buy out the remaining years of his contract following a backstage brawl with Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks in September.
According to combat sports insider Dave Meltzer, disagreements on a non-compete have held up the completion of the buyout:
“AEW is in talks with Punk about the future but right now it looks doubtful he will be back. Those with close knowledge of the situation said they are in talks with Punk about a buy-out of the remaining years of his contract which tells you that they are not looking to bring him back. The hold-up right now is said to be the non-compete period. Obviously if the non-compete is an issue, it’s about interest in going to WWE because there’s no need for a non-compete otherwise because nobody else but AEW and WWE can pay him close to what he was making.”
Punk signed a multi-year contract with AEW in August of 2021. The promotion had hoped to use Punk as the face of its brand before ultimately putting over MJF, 26. Instead, Punk’s run in AEW consisted of two major injuries, two shortened title runs, a divided locker room, and a black cloud of drama.
Meltzer reported on the consensus opinion of Punk among AEW performers:
“The sentiment of those in AEW among most talent, not all talent, was decidedly anti-Punk, between the television promo on Page, who is overall very popular with the talent, the scrum where he said Page had never done anything in the business which was taken as saying AEW means nothing in wrestling.”
AEW is better off without Punk and focusing on more reliable stars, such as MJF, Hangman Adam Page, Jon Moxley, Kenny Omega (more on him in a bit), and Wardlow.
WWE ought to be skeptical about signing Punk after the expiration of his eventual non-compete agreement. WWE released Punk in 2014 after years of headaches and ill will toward management. His time in AEW only vindicated WWE’s original concerns.
Consider that AEW did not script any of the following videos. In each, Punk went off script and into business for himself:
— WrestlePurists (@WrestlePurists) September 5, 2022
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) August 18, 2022
— Raphael Wilson (@089968Raph___) September 1, 2022
CM Punk is among the biggest draws in pro wrestling. Yet he’s also among the biggest headaches. He’s Antonio Brown. His perpetual toxicity has come to outweigh his performance.
As for Omega and The Young Bucks, their futures with AEW remain in question. AEW can ill-afford to lose The Elite, the namesakes of the promotion. They’re more important to the direction of the company than Punk.
AEW suspended Omega, The Bucks, and Punk immediately following the brawl. Neither AEW nor the involved parties have commented on the melee.