Bryan Danielson recently discussed his thoughts on CM Punk being fired from AEW during a recent conversation with Sports Illustrated’s Justin Barrasso. Meanwhile, WWE President Nick Khan commented on CM Punk making a WWE return as well.
In late August, Punk was involved in a backstage altercation with Jungle Boy Jack Perry. The exact details of the altercation are unknown, but it is confirmed that the confrontation became physical. Both men were suspended, but a few days later AEW President and CEO Tony Khan announced that the promotion decided to terminate Punk’s contracts with the company with cause.
Punk is a massive draw for whatever promotion he has worked for. When he debuted in AEW in 2021, Punk’s return to wrestling was one of the most monumental events in history history. Punk has remained a huge topic of discussion among wrestling fans. However, discussion around Punk has lately been a result of backstage controversy and various incidents.
Regardless of what fans and Punk’s peers think of him, his firing is a damaging blog to AEW. He is a big name and brings in a lot of eyeballs and fans for the product. He’s a top merchandise seller. Not to mention, a whole new, primetime two-hour television show, AEW Collision, was built around having Punk as the centerpiece of the program. Punk’s absence from AEW programming means the company loses a top box office and merchandise draw.
BRYAN DANIELSON ADDRESSES PUNK’S FIRING FROM AEW
In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Danielson spoke about how Punk’s departure may affect AEW. Danielson and Punk have a longstanding history. They both made their names in Ring of Honor (ROH) back in the early and mid-2000s. They would both later go on to have huge success in WWE, where they also became onscreen rivals.
“In any job, when you lose somebody who’s very important, or you lose somebody you really like working with, that’s hard, but everyone keeps doing the job. And any time there is loss or controversy or struggle inside an organization, it’s a chance to bring people closer. It’s also a chance to divide people. So you have this thing where you can use struggle to make your life worse, or you can use struggle to make your life better.
“When I lost my father, I came out on the backside. I was worse. Struggling with my depression, I’ve come out of it better. So how you approach something and how you learn from something, that’s what makes the difference.”– Bryan Danielson, “Bryan Danielson Details His Future,” by Justin Barrasso from Sports Illustrated
Punk is a very divisive personality. For longtime wrestling fans, that is probably a major understatement. No matter how his peers may feel about him, his success is deniable. He became a main event star and headliner in WWE, and he worked tirelessly to achieve that goal. CM Punk understands what it takes to get to the top of the business and stay there. AEW losing a talent with such a wealth of knowledge is also arguably a major blow to the younger talent and roster members as well.
Punk’s loss also leaves a void at the top of the card that needs to be filled. Rumors have stated that Danielson has stepped up and taken on more responsibility behind the scenes, and acting as a facilitator for the wrestlers. However, Punk’s unceremonious exit from AEW also leaves a void in the main event storylines Punk was penciled to be involved in for the coming months on AEW Collision.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR PUNK?
Punk’s firing brings up the question of where he will go next for his wrestling career. While Punk has many fans, he has left a negative impression on many people in the industry, such as WWE Chief Creative Officer Triple H, who was never one of Punk’s bigger fans or supporters in WWE. This leaves the list of possible future homes pretty limited. However, Punk’s former home in WWE may not have closed their door to him like many may think.
ESPN’s Marc Raimondi asked WWE President Nick Khan if WWE would be open to letting Punk return and he revealed Khan’s answer via Twitter/X. Khan stated the following:
“Listen, we only have respect for Phil (CM Punk). We appreciate his run here. We appreciate what he did and tried to do with the UFC. Not many people can actually get in there and do what he did. So, when we have respect for Phil, we wish him nothing but the best.”– WWE President Nick Khan, via Marc Raimondi’s X account
A MAYBE ON A CM PUNK RETURN TO WWE?
Nick Khan’s answer regarding CM Punk is very vague. It wasn’t a yes or a no. With the merger of WWE and UFC into the newly formed TKO, it is probably a hectic time. Khan likely wanted to provide a quick and neutral answer out there. It is also possible he isn’t fully aware of Punk’s history in WWE and why he is no longer with AEW.
However, it appears that Khan’s answer does potentially leave a door open for Punk to return to WWE because he never actually said no. The UFC merger gives WWE access to much more money because CM Punk isn’t cheap. From a purely financial perspective, acquiring Punk is a very smart move. However, it’s unknown if his past behavior would be irrelevant to the TKO board of directors.
Do you think CM Punk’s firing leaves a void in AEW? In the big picture is AEW better or worse without Punk? Is AEW more divided or united now that Punk is gone? Do you think WWE will pick him up? Will WWE’s more structured environment prevent further brawls if Punk joins? Let us know if you think Punk would flourish in the current landscape of WWE.