CM Punk Offers Brutally Honest Assessment Of Tony Khan’s AEW Leadership And Resolving Issues With His New Boss Triple H

CM Punk gets very candid about Tony Khan's Leadership in the AEW!

Recently returned WWE Superstar CM Punk recently spoke at length about his former AEW boss, Tony Khan, how his recent WWE return came together, and making peace with his new WWE boss, Chief Creative Officer Paul “Triple H” Levesque. Punk went from one of the top guys in WWE to an ex-wrestler and going back to being one of the biggest money draws in pro wrestling.

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CM Punk left WWE and the world of wrestling in 2014. For a while, he attempted a career in MMA by fighting in the UFC. After years of speculation, Punk returned to wrestling in 2021. He debuted in AEW in August 2021 and the world was reintroduced to CM Punk as a wrestling superstar.

Courtesy Of AEW


While a guest on The MMA Hour With Ariel Helwani, CM Punk was asked what it was like working for Founder, Co-Owner, President, and CEO of AEW Tony Khan. He didn’t hold back on his former boss and the shortcomings he saw. Punk stated the following on Khan:

“It’s a loaded question because I don’t like the drama, but the truth is the truth. He’s not a boss, he’s a nice guy, and I think ultimately that is a detriment to the company, but it’s not my company. I’m an outsider. I thought I was brought in to sell merchandise and tickets and draw numbers for pay-per-views and stuff, and I clearly did that, but that’s not what the place was about, and some people didn’t like that.”

H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription
AEW Tony Khan And Cody Rhodes
Courtesy of Tony Khan’s Twitter/X Account

Punk debuted in AEW and the grumpy Punk of WWE seemed to have disappeared. He had a new zest for life and pro wrestling. It was a very exciting time to be a wrestling fan. However, AEW had a lot of backstage issues which soon began to surface and Punk somehow seemed to be in the middle of them.

First Punk had issues with Hangman Page, then got in a fight with the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega. The final straw was a fight with Jack Perry. Punk admits during the interview he went to Khan to address many of these issues before he had to handle them himself. However, Punk alleged that Khan did not, which made the situation worse.

Image via AEW

After the fight with Perry, Punk was fired by Khan. When Khan announced Punk’s firing, he cited that the backstage incident involving Punk made him fear for his life. Punk was asked how he felt about Khan’s comments when he was fired in September 2023 by AEW, stating the following:

“I can’t tell you what Tony felt or what he was thinking, but I never did anything that would make him fear for his life but he’s who he is.”

H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription

Shortly after the altercation with Perry, it was announced that CM Punk was fired. It didn’t take very long for WWE to reach out to him for a possible return. This time dealing with WWE President Nick Khan. Punk said on the topic:

“The action of it started the week of, I think, Thanksgiving … I’d have to look at a calendar to figure out dates exactly. I remember times and places of where I was when I would get phone calls and such. And I had a CFFC [Cage Fury Fighting Championships] show coming up, I think. So I got a call from Nick Khan, and he was just like ‘Hey, we want to talk to you.’ And I was like ‘Cool. [I’m] on my way to the gym, and I have this coming up. CFFC, I’ll be back.’ ‘Cool, you want to talk Monday?’ ‘Great.’”

H/T Wrestling Inc. for the transcription

To keep things in perspective that is just five days before Survivor Series: WarGames where Punk finally makes his return. He revealed that the call was not to have him return to Survivor Series originally.

When WWE called Punk they wanted to see if he wanted to return for the Royal Rumble which was at the end of January. They were under the assumption he was under a non-compete from AEW. He informed WWE that he was not and was ready to go.

WWE Triple H and CM Punk
Courtesy Of Triple H’s X/Twitter

The final hurdle WWE and CM Punk had to overcome was with the boss of WWE, Triple H. Punk and Triple H were on very bad terms when Punk left WWE. They have since been able to overcome their shared past issues and bury the hatchet. Punk details how the talks with Triple H first started. He also revealed that it was important to Triple H that it wasn’t just a phone call, but wanted to be able to see each other’s faces. He said on Triple H:

“It’s funny because everyone calls him Paul [now]…I always call him Triple H or Hunter. When I spoke to him, that’s when the ball really got rolling, you know? Cause it was a very, I asked him if he wanted to talk on the phone, and he said ‘No. I would actually rather kind of like to face-time you, so I can see you.’ And I was like ‘Oh, that’s interesting.’  

“We just talked about a whole lot of stuff, and about stuff that was at one point serious to probably both of us that is silly now. And we just kind of laughed and buried the hatchet. And then we started talking business.”

H/T Wrestling Inc. for the transcription

Since coming back to WWE Punk has made a big impact. He showed the WWE Universe who may have not seen him in AEW that he is still fantastic on the mic. Unfortunately, all he has been able to do in the ring has been on the mic. His only on-screen wrestling was in the Royal Rumble match.

During CM Punk’s time in the Royal Rumble match he tore his tricep. It required surgery and he has been out since then. However, he has popped back up, and on last week’s RAW it was revealed he would be the guest commentator for the Seth Rollins and Drew McIntyre match at WrestleMania this Sunday. Time will tell if he will get involved in the match as he has some heated words with both.

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AEW has had some major backstage issues since it started, do you think it is because of Tony Khan’s leadership style? Do you think losing CM Punk was a huge mistake by AEW? Is Punk going to WWE a better place for him than AEW? Do you think Triple H is a better boss because he used to be a wrestler? Let us know on social media if you would rather see Punk feud with McIntyre or Rollins once he is healthy.

SOURCE: The MMA Hour With Ariel Helwani, Wrestling Inc., Wrestling Inc.

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Robert Watson

Just a guy reading comics, watching wrestling, and wondering if aliens exist