CM Punk is scheduled to make his highly anticipated return to AEW tomorrow night on the debut episode of Collision on TNT, and even before he steps foot in a ring for the first time in nine months, Punk is already causing a stir. Wade Keller was the first to suggest that Punk's comments were a big topic of discussion at Wednesday's Dynamite episode, and some people were concerned that his words may cause more problems. Fightful added that Punk spoke in a way that "would blur the lines, and create buzz for upcoming shows."
The ESPN interview was released early this afternoon, Punk broke his silence officially for the first time this year and spoke to staff writer Marc Raimondi about what went down.
The interview begins with the typical questions about his injury and his return. Punk said it was a major struggle to recover from the torn tricep injury he suffered last September, especially mentally, but his wife, dog and friends helped him through it.
Punk reiterated that his problems with the Elite started when Hangman went off script during an in-ring exchange leading to Punk vs. Hangman at AEW Double or Nothing 2022. The reason was Hangman assumed Punk was responsible for Hanger's friend Colt Cabana being taken off television. Punk once again denies having anything to do with that in the ESPN article.
Punk said he did not trust Hangman during their main event match, leading him to be more defensive than usual, rather than having the best match he could. Punk tells ESPN "And I proceed to have what I think is a garbage match because I'm trying to protect myself on stuff instead of actually just working and trying to put on the best performance I can. I'm keeping an eye out. He chopped me in the mouth one time, and I'm just like, 'OK, did you do that on purpose?' You chip my tooth, and I'm like, 'All right, should I give him a receipt?' It changes the dynamic. It poisoned everything for me, and it made it all really, really ugly, and that was what set all of this off, and here we are over a year later and ain't s--- been done about it."
Because we live in an information age, a fan was able to extract this exact moment:
Punk also admits in the article that he has regrets about how he handled himself at the All Out media scrum, and that he has apologized to Tony Khan about it, adding the relationship between the two is "great." Punk said to ESPN "The first thing I said to Tony when I sat down with him and spoke to him after it was, 'Man, I'm really sorry I put you in that position.' I apologize for the scrum. But when you've watched that scrum, you're looking at a very, very frustrated guy who had told people. That's not the first time he heard all that. It's not the first time lawyers were told all that. And I was just looking for something to be done and nothing got done. So, if you want something done right, you got to do it yourself. And I just didn't approach it in the right manner, but tension was high. I was very, very pissed. I pretty much knew that I had just injured myself again. I was hurt, and I was disappointed. Yeah, it's very easy for me to say I regret that and I handled it the wrong way, 100%."
While Punk didn't address specifics of what happened the night of All Out, he did tell ESPN "we are trying to move past what happened that night specifically." Punk downplayed the severity of what happened, saying it happens in every sport. "I don't think what happened was a big deal… This has happened in the last 10 months in hockey, in basketball, in baseball, in just about every sport. And it's covered and it's gone the next day. I think because I have injured my tricep and I've been out for so long, I think it has been exacerbated. I think it's been exacerbated by people spreading lies about the whole thing. And when, in reality, my attitude is, well, s--- happens."
Punk claims that he's tried to personally reach out to the Bucks and Omega to settle this, only to hear back from legal representation to not contact those people. "Now we all got to roll in the f---ing mud, and that never should have happened and has never been course-corrected," Punk said. "So, I understand people want to say that, 'Oh, man, Punk is a dick.' Well yeah, because I'm defending myself and I will always defend myself. I'm open to have a full-blown f---ing sit-down powwow discussion with everybody about it. But it hasn't happened yet, and it's not because of my lack of trying."
Nick Jackson has already addressed the article in an Instagram post, writing about "Hangman" Adam Page, "Not only is he good at wrestling but he's an even better human being."
One thing Punk knows how to do is get his name in the headlines and get people talking.
Will this result in folks watching AEW Collision tomorrow? We'll have to wait and see. Full preview below…
Squared Circle Pit with MLW's Mister St. Laurent
Major League Wrestling COO Mister St. Laurent is the guest on this edition. MSL loves rock and loves pro wrestling, so he's a perfect guest. We learn about advice Pat Patterson gave MSL before breaking into the business, and MSL offers us his career trajectory over the last few years that landed him in the COO position. A great chat for those looking for advice on how to break into pro wrestling.
What's on TV in the next week?
WWE Smackdown is tonight at 8pm on Fox:
- Roman Reigns returns to hear Jey Uso's decision
- Charlotte Flair will appear on the Grayson Waller Effect
- Zelina Vega vs. IYO SKY
- Tag Team Gauntlet to determine no. 1 contenders with: The Street Profits, Sheamus and Ridge Holland, The O.C., The LWO, and Pretty Deadly
AEW Rampage looks to have a fun show tonight at 10pm on TNT:
- Will Ospreay, Jeff Cobb & Kyle Fletcher vs. Trent Beretta, Chuck Taylor & Rocky Romero
- Jeff Jarrett, Jay Lethal & Karen Jarrett vs. Mark Briscoe, Papa Briscoe & Aubrey Edwards
- Konosuke Takeshita vs. Bandido
- Taya Valkyrie vs. Trish Adora
AEW Collision premieres on TNT Saturday at 8pm eastern:
- TNT Champion Wardlow defends against Luchasaurus
- Miro in action
- Skye Blue & Willow Nightingale vs. Toni Storm & Ruby Soho
- Buddy Matthews vs. Andrade
WWE RAW Monday at 8pm eastern on USA Network has announced:
- Logan Paul returns
- Seth Rollins defends the World Heavyweight Championship in an open challenge
- Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Bronson Reed
WWE NXT next Tuesday at 8pm is advertising the Gold Rush special on USA Network
- World Heavyweight Championship: Seth Rollins defends against Bron Breakker
- North American Championship: Wes Lee defends against Tyler Bate with Mustafa Ali as special referee
- NXT Tag Team title number one contender's three-way match: Tank Ledger & Hank Walker vs. Josh Briggs & Brooks Jensen vs. Edris Enofe & Malik Blade
- Dana Brooke vs. Cora Jade
Impact Wrestling next Thursday at 8pm on AXS announced:
- oVe (Sami Callihan, Jake Crist & Madman Fulton) vs. Brian Myers & The Good Hands (Jason Hotch & John Skyler)
- The Design (Kon & Angels) vs. Jonathan Gresham & Mike Bailey
- Taylor Wilde vs. Killer Kelly
- Bully Ray & Steve Maclin vs. Eddie Edwards & Frankie Kazarian
More Wrestling News
AEW announced that the commentary team for Collision will be Kevin Kelly, Nigel McGinness and Jim Ross. Kelly has already announced on Twitter that New Japan would still be a priority, and when he has to travel to Japan for something like the G1 tournament, Collision will have a fill-in in place.
WWE announced Payback will take place Saturday, September 2nd in Pittsburg, PA. That means WWE is scheduling a PPV a day before the usual date for AEW All Out. This happened last year as well with Clash at the Castle.
Kofi Kingston is close to being ready to return as he has started appearing on promotional materials for future WWE live events. Kofi suffered an ankle injury back in March.
A movie on the life of cross-dressing Mexican luchador sensation Cassandro is coming to Prime Video on September 22nd, starting the immensely talented Gael García Bernal.
Tony Khan confirmed in an interview with Post Wrestling that AEW Battle of the Belts quarterly specials are still on the calendar.
Dave Meltzer reports that Drew McIntyre is expected back for WWE Money in the Bank, although he has no program in place currently.
PWInsider reports Tommaso Ciampa is very close to return as well and he will likely be realigned with Johnny Gargano.
An indie wrestling promoter noted that Carlito cancelled a recent booking with the reason being he signed a contract with WWE. Carlito got a huge pop at WWE Backlash last month, likely leading to the return.
Logan Paul had very positive things to say about Bad Bunny on his podcast, Impaulsive. "The difference is this - and this is what I say to people who are trying to compare me and Bad Bunny in the WWE - I wrestled in high school, I did sports and athletics. I am a YouTuber but I'm an athlete, bro. I was an athlete first, I always have been. I can still surprise people because I'm a YouTuber but I was an athlete first. Bunny is a musician, dude, he has no business being as good as he is. He comes in there and he crushes it"
Dave Meltzer reported that Dax Hardwood is among the people pitching ideas to the AEW creative team. Bryan Danielson has also been heavily involved as of late.
Samoa Joe teased rekindling his rivalry with CM Punk in an interview with Sports Illustrated saying “We’ve always competed to have the best match of the night, and that’s what we’re still competing to do,” says Joe. “It was our ambition that brought us together. We were two young gentlemen who believed we were the best in the world and that we could take it to anybody. That was evident in the young versions of both of us, and it’s manifested to where we are today.”
Miro spoke with Good Karma Wrestling and revealed that AEW kept him a bit in the dark recently. "It sucks, it sucks. Like I said, looking for answers and not getting any, it's not a good place. And not just me, but just overall as a human being when you have no answers to all these questions, it just eats you inside," later adding "The answers I've been looking for, I haven't found. But what I've done, what we've done in AEW, I would say it's the longest story that we've had since the beginning, the arc of the character."
Finally, CM Punk's new shirt, featuring his dog Larry, is an homage to a classic Roddy Piper shirt: