Even though it's WrestleMania week, the talk of the wrestling world last weekend is the status of CM Punk and AEW. Punk hasn't been seen or mentioned on television since the brawl after All Out. He was also dealing with an injury, which led to the controversy dying down. Based on the timeline, Punk is about ready to be cleared to compete again. Punk has been making overtures through his Instagram page that he is interested in coming back to work.
This led to questioning the possibilities and in a forum thread on the Wrestling Observer website, a reader was countering the notion that Punk was difficult to work with, pointing to Punk losing clean to Moxley before winning the AEW championship last summer. This lead to site editor Dave Meltzer to respond “Do you know why they didn’t advertise Punk vs. Moxley longer and
The screenshot spread around the internet and reached Punk. He posted a response on Instagram and then quickly deleted it. But fans were able to capture a screenshot. It said SIGH. "I wasn’t cleared to come back to wrestle yet. Then plan was to wrestle at the ppv. I sat and listened to Moxley’s Rocky three idea. I explained how I’d never seen a Rocky movie and thought the idea sucked but if the boss wanted to do it whatever. He said he wouldn’t lose to me. I’d never experienced someone refusing to lose to me. I just laughed. I asked Tony if this was what he wanted. He said yes. He’s the boss so I said okay but I’d need to be cleared first. They kept saying it could just be a squash so I didn’t need to be cleared. I scoffed at that. My health is more important."
Punk called out Jericho in response to Jericho reportedly calling Punk a "locker room cancer" during a backstage talent meeting. Meltzer apologized shortly after for omitting that Punk was injured, saying he was being short-handed in a private forum and didn't expect the news to get out like it did.
PWTorch's Wade Keller filed a long report on his podcast, after speaking to multiple people in various positions in AEW. “The sentiment is he’s not welcome back," Keller said. “The wrestlers don’t want him back. I’d go so far as saying that my sources are saying the vast majority of wrestlers don’t want him back. On person said, maybe one or two of the top third of the roster would want him back and then there’s some younger guys who liked him and just thought, ‘hey, this is a guy I grew up watching and it’s cool having him around.’
“The politics aren’t terrible among the top guys. I mean, there is some tension between some of the top guys, but it’s mostly Punk doesn’t get along with Hangman, Punk doesn’t get along with Moxley, Punk doesn’t get along with Kenny, Punk doesn’t get along with The Bucks. When you look at the power structure in AEW, it’s not that everyone gets along in that group, but I haven’t heard of anything real serious between the names that I just mentioned. But mostly there’s a range of peaceful coexistence and really liking each other and Punk is the exception to that right now. So, him going off on Instagram like he did, really hurt the chances of him being welcome back.”
Jon Moxley appeared on his wife's podcast, The Sessions with Renee Paquette and addressed the CM Punk story saying (transcription via WrestleZone) “Nothing has unfolded. It’s fucking annoying just because somebody said some stupid shit on social media like that’s not news, but it is, and it ends up being a thing,” Jon Moxley said. “I don’t want to get dragged into this dumb shit. I could fucking unload on a lot of fucking people right now, and when I start getting dragged into this shit, it tempts me to do that, but I’m not gonna f**king sink to that level.
“I will say this; I’m just gonna give you like a tidbit of information from my point of view. The entire summer, I was not under contract. No contract, free agent. I was at SummerSlam weekend wrestling fucking Desperado and shit the day of SummerSlam. Fucking suplexed him on a bunch of aluminum cans and shit cut in half; it was fucking dope.
“I could have walked into SummerSlam that night with the AEW fucking belt if I had been so inclined. Nobody knew that because I don’t put my shit out there in the world and let everybody know every fucking thing about my business. I was not under contract. The reason being, if you’re curious, because I got out of rehab, and my contract was coming up. They extended it for the time that I missed. Cool. I’m glad they did actually because I didn’t want to feel like I owed them anything.”
Moxley would go on to say that he didn't want to sign an extended contract just yet because he had just gotten out of rehab and wanted to make sure he could handle the lifestyle.
“That being said, during this time period, the night f**king what’s his dick talking about was in Minneapolis, was the night he came back and was hopping around on one foot bumping around Inner Circle or whatever after me
“For all intents and purposes. I don’t even work here. Tony
Moxley went on to say “I will say this, and I hate to say — I don’t think I’ve ever said anything even remotely negative about AEW,” Jon Moxley said. “But I will say this as an observer. I spent eight years on the indies. A couple of years in WWE developmental. Spent like eight years in WWE. I have never seen so much bullshit drama in one place in my entire f**king life.
“I hate to say that, but it’s like, I don’t know if it’s because of the age of social media. Shit gets like blown out of proportion. Like one person types one stupid fucking drunk tweet, and all of a sudden, that’s all anybody wants to talk about.
“We’re sitting up here, doing a podcast. You know what we’re not talking about? We’re not talking about the fucking stellar match Vikingo and Kenny Omega just had. All the cool stuff going on in AEW. Cool shows are happening. We’re not talking about this great pay-per-view we just had. We’re not talking about any of that; we’re talking about some bullshit.
“Like, let me be clear, the vast majority of people there don’t cause any fucking trouble. But they’re getting sucked down into the shit like everybody else, into the muck. There are plenty of people who just want to get better and perform and fucking just do this job, man. It’s the best job in the world.”
Squared Circle Pit previews WrestleMania
I sat down with Rick Jimenez of Extinction A.D. to go over the entire card for WWE WrestleMania Goes Hollywood. We go through all the matches, give our thoughts on the buildup and our predictions on who we see winning. Plus, Rick shares some stories of growing up a wrestling fan. Extinction AD’s album, Culture of Violence, is out now on Unique Leader Records.
Here is a full preview of the card, as it stands now.
- Undisputed WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns defends against Cody Rhodes
- SmackDown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair defends against Rhea Ripley
- Raw Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair defends against Asuka
- United States Championship: Austin Theory defends against John Cena (opens night one)
- Intercontinental Championship triple threat match: Gunther defends against Drew McIntyre & Sheamus
- Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship: The Usos defend against Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens
- Hell in a Cell match: Edge vs. Finn Balor
- Brock Lesnar vs. Omos
- Seth Rollins vs. Logan Paul
- Rey Mysterio vs. Dominik Mysterio
- Trish Stratus, Becky Lynch & Lita vs. Damage CTRL (Bayley, Dakota Kai & IYO SKY)
- Women’s four-way tag team showcase match: Liv Morgan & Raquel Rodriguez vs. Ronda Rousey & Shayna Baszler vs. Natalya & Shotzi vs. Chelsea Green & Sonya Deville
- Men’s four-way tag team showcase match: Braun Strowman & Ricochet vs. The Viking Raiders vs. The Street Profits vs. Alpha Academy
What's on TV this week?
The last WWE NXT before Stand and Deliver this weekend takes place tonight at 8pm on USA Network with this lineup:
- Contract signing for Waller/Gargano match at NXT Stand & Deliver
- Battle Royal for final spot in North American title match at Stand & Deliver
- Eddy Thorpe debut
- Last chance match for NXT Women's title match at Stand & Deliver: Sol Ruca vs. Indi Hartwell vs. Ivy Nile
The NXT show was pre-taped, so you can see spoilers here.
AEW Dynamite has a big show tomorrow night at 8pm on TBS:
- IWGP United States title: Kenny Omega (c) vs. Jeff Cobb
- AEW International title: Orange Cassidy (c) vs. The Butcher
- Adam Cole vs. Daniel Garcia
- Ruby Soho vs. Willow Nightingale
- Blackpool Combat Club vs. Dalton Castle and The Boys
- Matt Hardy vs. Jungle Boy Jack Perry
Friday night, Ring of Honor will have their Supercard of Honor on PPV and FITE:
- ROH World Champion Claudio Castagnoli defends against Eddie Kingston
- AAA Mega Champion El Hijo del Vikingo defends against Komander
- Reach for the Sky ladder match for the ROH Tag Team titles: Lucha Bros vs. Top Flight vs. The Kingdom vs. Aussie Open vs. Rush & Dralistico
- ROH Television Champion Samoa Joe defends against Mark Briscoe
- ROH Pure Champion Wheeler Yuta defends against Katsuyori Shibata
- ROH Six Man Tag Team Champions The Embassy (Brian Cage, Bishop Kaun & Toa Liona) defend against AR Fox, Blake Christian & Metalik
- ROH Women's Title will also be defended by either Athena or Emi Sakura
Friday night at 8pm is the final WWE Smackdown before WrestleMania
- The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
- Cody and Roman Reigns square off
AEW Rampage is Friday night at 10pm, no matches have been announced yet.
After Smackdown on Peacock is the WWE Hall of Fame with inductees Rey Mysterio, The Great Muta, Andy Kaufman, and Stacy Keibler.
This is a big week for pro wrestling. Fite+, Highspots and IWTV will be streaming a ton of wrestling from Los Angeles this weekend. I wrote a huge roundup of all the shows in Los Angeles that you should definitely check out.
More Wrestling News
AEW's Matt Jackson has suffered a torn bicep. He's opting not to have surgery, so he will only be out a few weeks.
CNBC filed the below report on the potential sale of WWE, and it's a favorable report saying those who doubted that sale could get done seem "less so" and that sale talks are going "quite well."
Ronda Rousey slammed the creative of her recent feud with Liv Morgan, writing on social media "Imagine what our @yaonlylivvonce feud could have been if we weren’t hamstrung by a bunch of octogenarians who still think they know how to be hip while putting less than 5 minutes of thought a week into each women’s storyline… 🤔 new #RondaOnTheRoad"
The latest Hollywood parody from WWE is based on Goodfellas, starring the Bloodline.
Vickie Guerrero revealed in an interview with The Whole Story Podcast, that she wishes she could've been a part of the Rey Mysterio vs. Dominick storyline saying “My only reaction is that I wish I was part of it. I just think, ‘Man, they’re having so much fun.’ Dominik and Rhea have always texted me back and talked back and forth. They’ve always had my support. When Dominik put those two pictures of Eddie and Dominik side by side on Twitter, it was remarkable how much they look alike. So I told Dominik, I’m like, ‘You have this honorary position of having Eddie live in the storyline, and you have my support.’ He’s just so full of gratitude, and Rey, I love him and Angie. To have my support was nothing short of… I wish I was there to see it. But they’re doing a great job, and I’m really happy for them. I want to see what happens at WrestleMania and see what they do with it."
The next time the former Sasha Banks, now Mercedes Moné wrestles for New Japan will be April 6th, and it will be her first time wrestling as Moné in Japan. The full lineup for Sakura Genesis is:
- IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada defends against 2023 New Japan Cup winner SANADA
- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Hiromu Takahashi defends against Robbie Eagles
- IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Bishamon (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI) defend against Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis)
- NJPW World Television Championship: Zack Sabre Jr. defends against Shota Umino
- IWGP Women's Championship: Mercedes Mone defends against AZM & Hazuki in a three-way
- Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI vs. Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI
- Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Master Wato vs. David Finlay, KENTA & El Phantasmo
- Jeff Cobb, Aaron Henare & Francesco Akira vs. EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi & SHO
- Mystery six-man tag team match
Gangrel will be in the LA area for WrestleMania and it is rumored he will make an appearance during the Hell in the Cell match with Edge and Balor.
Do you enjoy pro wrestling? Knotfest Wrestling has a bi-weekly column filled with wrestling news. Read previous editions of this column here. You can always follow me @robinjection on Instagram and Twitter and @Squaredcirclpit.