Columnist Rob Pasbani explains all the controversy behind CM Punk’s surprise backstage appearance at WWE Raw.
Triple H made a surprising announcement on WWE Raw last night, and that was the unveiling of the brand-new World Heavyweight Championship. The first WWE World Heavyweight Champion will be crowned in Saudi Arabia at Night of Champions on May 27th. This is a separate title from the Undisputed WWE Universal Heavyweight Championship that is currently held by Roman Reigns, who is on his way to a 1,000 day reign.
Here is a better look at what the actual belt looks like.
Here is the video of the announcement:
In my opinion, I am not a fan of how WWE unveiled this announcement. They have a PPV in two weeks, Backlash, and they’re already advertising a major event happening for the PPV following Backlash. Why not wait two weeks? Unless a tournament will determine the champion that starts at Backlash, I see no reason to start this early.
Also, it seems weird that WWE will now have three world championship belts, if you count the two Roman was wearing. Will this World Heavyweight Championship follow the old lineage that dates back to the NWA title or will it be a completely new lineage like the Universal title? Also, very weird for Triple H to make statements about how Roman is a part-timer who doesn’t defend his title, when it’s Triple H who scripts things to be that way. In Triple H’s promo, he angled it as if Reigns was smart to negotiate himself into a position where he didn’t have to defend the championship frequently, which is great for Reigns but not great for WWE because the fans deserve more.
In general, I am not a fan of two world champions, but understand why they have to do it. I do not want to see Cody Rhodes win this title. It would seem like a concession for him, as his story is to win the WWE Championship that his father never held. I think Seth Rollins would make a great first World Heavyweight Champion, and with all the work he put in, he certainly deserved it.
Perhaps an even bigger story than the new title belt was that currently contracted AEW star CM Punk was backstage at WWE Raw last night. Raw was at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, right next door to Punk’s hometown of Chicago. According to the Wrestling Observer, Punk was in Tampa doing commentary for an MMA league and ended up on a flight to Chicago with a ton of WWE superstars who were on their way to Raw and decided to pop in and say hello.
PWInsider was the first to report the story, saying Punk was spotted talking to some wrestlers, namely the Miz, as well as Chief Content Officer Triple H. PWInsider noted that Punk arrived in the common area of backstage in sight of everybody. Triple H saw him and walked over and shook his hand. According to PWInsider, a wrestler there noted that Punk asked Triple H if they could speak for a minute or two and Triple H told Punk that he had to clear it with “the big man,” meaning Vince. After a brief while, security asked Punk to exit the arena, and Punk did so without problem. He was backstage for all of 20 minutes.
It should be noted that wrestlers visiting backstage happens all the time, and usually goes unreported. Earlier this year, AEW star Ricky Stars was spotted accompanying Cody Rhodes to the Royal Rumble. WWE wrestlers have also been backstage at AEW events.
Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio said that after speaking to several WWE wrestlers who were backstage, they believe Punk was there scouting for work. “People were very surprised on both ends. Very surprised in WWE. The feeling in WWE was that he was there because he wanted back. Whether that’s true or not, I have no idea. I mean, obviously, there were talks of him going back, shortly [after All Out.] In late last year. But he couldn’t go because he was still under contract. My impression is this is with Paul Levesque in charge and not Vince, my impression was that they didn’t have any interest in him at that time.” PWInsider contradicts this report, noting Punk has many years on his contract. “For those who have asked if this was Punk trying to gauge WWE interest, we are told no. He’s still under contract to AEW for what one person termed a “lengthy” amount of time and couldn’t even negotiate with WWE at this point.”
With the news last week that AEW is launching a new two-hour show with CM Punk as the main star, other wrestlers believe Punk was there to get some publicity for his return. Meltzer said on his radio show Was it a publicity stunt for him to get publicity [for his rumored AEW return?] Was it? I don’t know, you’d have to ask him what his reasons were. Obviously, the announcement of him coming back to AEW, in theory, was going to be anytime now. You know, the announcement of the new TV show would be anytime now. So I’m sure it all ties together in some way and he’ll have to figure out [what’s next.] If he wants to say what his motives were, what his reasons were, you know, he can say it. But obviously, all those things, the timing of everything, is suspicious.” Again, PWInsider contradicts saying it was likely just a big coincidence and Punk maybe we just trying to mend fences after so many years.
Fightful Select spoke to multiple AEW stars who were in disbelief that Punk showed up, WWE wrestlers were also surprised.
Tony Khan is teasing an announcement this Wednesday on AEW Dynamite. Could it be the announcement of the new show? Things are getting very interesting in pro wrestling
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WWE NXT is on at 8pm on USA Network with a special Spring Breakin’ show
MLW Underground at 10pm on REELZ tonight:
AEW Dynamite on Wednesday at 8pm on TBS announced:
Impact on Thursday at 8pm on AXS announced:
AEW Rampage on Friday airs at a early time, 5:30pm eastern on TNT
WWE Smackdown next Friday at 8pm on Fox announced:
Damian Priest vs. Bad Bunny is a no-disqualification street fight has been added to WWE Backlash, and will be one of the featured matches. I’m surprised this isn’t a tag match with Rey involved.
Vince McMahon was not at Raw last night, but he was still making major changes to the script as late as 5:30pm eastern, according to multiple reports. Certain wrestlers were pulled from the show.
LWO has new entrance music, with a nod to Eddie Guerrero.
At a press conference on Monday, Lucha Libre AAA announced that Vikingo defends his AAA Mega Championship against AEW star Kenny Omega at Triplemania XXXI: Tijuana. The show streams on FITE on Saturday, July 15.
Wardlow is lobbying for a Goldberg match, telling Whatculture “Goldberg did walk through just a minute ago and we exchanged words. I don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes but we both mutually agreed that if the opportunity comes, we would love to see who really is next. Batista, Lesnar, Goldberg, I put those three in the same category of dream monster matches. I mean, we just heard Ward-low [chants], we haven’t heard that since Goldberg so I think Wardlow vs. Goldberg, man, it doesn’t get bigger than that. It does not get bigger than Wardlow vs. Goldberg. If it comes down to Wardlow as the man to retire Goldberg, I can die peacefully.”
AEW filed a trademark for the term “WrestleDream.” An event with the same name happened in Japan in 1991 with stars from WWE and SRS (Super World Sports). Could this be the eventual Japanese version of the Forbidden Door event?
Kurt Angle revealed he will finally have neck fusion surgery. He put off doing the surgery 20 years ago and opted for rehab to be able to return to the ring sooner. On his podcast, Angle said “I still have pain in my lower back but I don’t have pain running down my legs anymore. They kicked that but the pain in my back is still there and it’s unfortunate but I can deal with this, I couldn’t deal with the pain running down my legs. I’m happy with the surgery. My neck is messed up. Next is my neck surgery. I’m probably going to have fusion next year and hopefully that will help my body and eventually I’ll be able to play with my kids. My knees, I’ve been able to come out of that pretty good so once my back heals, I’ll start being able to play with my kids, throw ’em around the pool, carrying them on my back, doing that kind of stuff.”
William Regal took to Twitter to reveal how he left AEW. “Time and time spent was the [reason] for my leaving, no agenda for anything else,” Regal wrote. “I have lived through some serious times in 2018/19 and realize time is all I have. I had a great time in AEW and are thankful for the time I spent there with many of my close friends and the amazing crew. I just want to make that public so people stop misinterpreting it. It’s sad that people in our job can’t realize that you can be a decent human being without having an agenda or taking advantage,” he added. “This is the last time I will mention this. Again, I would like to thank AEW for [their] gracious acceptance of me and for Tony to take me onboard.” “I know Tony summed up a few conversations we had with quick [answers]. FYI, Tony called me at 9 pm on a Sunday night and I discussed my reasons for leaving were time spent where I won’t to be,” he wrote. “Then [and only] then did he tell me [where] he was and what problems he was having. I told him to get off the phone and take care [of] his family and he shouldn’t be talking to me [now]. I also realise he has summed up conversations with brief answers. We eventually talked about me leaving 2 weeks later in Jacksonville.”
Do you enjoy pro wrestling? Knotfest Wrestling has a bi-weekly column filled with wrestling news. Read previous editions of this column here. Also, check out our wrestling podcasts Knitro and Squared Circle Pit. You can always follow me @robinjection on Instagram and Twitter.