How will CM Punk write his latest chapter with AEW?


AEW Collision marks the next chapter of CM Punk’s storied career, and all eyes are watching.

By the time CM Punk returns to the ring on June 17, it will have been 287 days since he wrestled a match in AEW. More than nine months since he tore a tricep in the main event of ALL OUT 2022 and then blew up at a media scrum. He’ll likely be returning to a mixed reaction, although returning to the venue where he made his AEW debut (and one that’s located in his hometown) may make for a more favorable return.

Some fans will be watching because they’ve missed their favorite wrestler. Some will hate watch and others will be curious to see what this new show is all about. Many will be watching to see what happens in front of and behind the camera.

CM Punk’s time in AEW

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. It also didn’t have to be like this, which makes it even worse. A single night unraveled Punk’s redemption story. Wrestling fans waited 2766 days for “The Second City Saint” to return to wrestling and write his own ending. 380 days later, it came to a screeching halt.

On August 20, 2021, AEW debuted at the United Center. The worst-kept secret in pro wrestling was that CM Punk was debuting at “The First Dance”. His debut has racked up 16 million views on YouTube. The video of his first promo in AEW has more than seven million views. His return was also the 2021 Moment of the Year.

Upon Punk’s return, he said he wanted to wrestle the next generation. He started off with one of AEW’s pillars, Darby Allin. He went on to face Powerhouse Hobbs, Daniel Garcia, and Lee Moriarity. He wrestled established wrestlers like Penta El Zero M, Dustin Rhodes, and Matt Sydal, too. There was also the feud with Eddie Kingston, which included their real-life dislike for one another.

His most memorable feud will be with MJF. The promos, storytelling, and matches were excellent. MJF handed Punk his first loss in the company when WARDLOW gave MJF the Dynamite Diamond Ring to help him defeat Punk. The same ring would come into play in their Dog Collar match at Revolution 2022, with Punk getting his win back.

The assumption was that MJF would eventually defeat Punk for the AEW World Championship. Then, MJF left for months only to return at ALL OUT. He came out after the main event to reveal himself as the Joker/Devil that appeared in the Casino Ladder Match at the beginning of the show. It seems that the plan was for their feud to resume but things fell apart quickly after the end of the pay-per-view.

CM Punk’s cursed title reigns

His feud with Hangman Page will now be remembered in a much different context after it was revealed that the two didn’t like each other. Punk carried a grudge after a comment that Page made during a promo. This eventually boiled over into the explosion that was the media scrum.

Punk defeated Page at AEW Double or Nothing 2022. The following Wednesday on Dynamite, Punk teamed up with FTR against Max Caster and the Gunn Club. During this match, the champ would suffer a foot injury that took him out for over two months.

Upon his return on Aug. 10, Punk addressed the crowd. He said something that really sticks out while reflecting on everything that has transpired. He said that he wasn’t going to smile, but the fans made him. He seemed happy when in front of the fans. Backstage was another story.

Punk and Jon Moxley were scheduled to unify the AEW World Champion titles at ALL OUT. Instead, they faced off in Cleveland, a city that has not been kind to Punk. Mox defeated Punk in just over three minutes. It was a shock, but it could’ve been a more compelling story had they waited to do the rematch. We would later learn that Mox pitched a Rocky III scenario that Punk hated (and that he hadn’t seen any of Rocky movies).

At ALL OUT, Punk would win back the title. Just minutes after the show concluded, though, the two-time AEW World Champion would spectacularly blow up the media scrum and AEW as we know it. Punk went on a tirade calling out Colt Cabana, the EVPs, and Page. It was an ugly scene that should’ve been stopped before it got out of hand.

Afterward, there was an altercation involving Punk, Ace Steel, the Young Bucks, and Kenny Omega. This led to everyone involved getting suspended pending a third-party investigation. On top of all of that, it was revealed that Punk was injured in the main event. Even before the suspension, Punk would be missing more time.

A few months ago, it appeared Punk was on his way back to AEW (very likely because Warner Brothers Discovery wanted him as the face of their new Saturday night show). Punk was set off again and took his Instastories to rage against Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley. He seemed to have blown up any chance of his return.

Then came the upfronts. Punk had been heavily rumored for a new AEW show. He wasn’t featured in any material but had reportedly not wanted to be used in promotional materials. There was another issue when Punk was informed that Steel could not travel with Punk and had to continue to work remotely. That situation was smoothed over and all things are currently a go.

Punk’s story continues to be written

Real life upended what was supposed to be the feel-good story. Punk was mistreated during his time with WWE and it ended terribly. His return to AEW was supposed to allow Punk to rewrite his ending the way he wanted. He did rewrite it, but his demons held the pen. He may have had some legitimate grievances, but aired them at the wrong time, in the wrong place.

The old Punk, the one that gave him a reputation for being ornery (among other adjectives) showed up in full force. For wrestling fans who had been waiting for his downfall, they took their victory lap.

Punk will get another chance to write a continuation of his story. He is the face of AEW’s new show, Collision. He and Steel are said to be heavily involved in creative for the show. The show appears to showcasing some talent that haven’t had the best locker room reputations or talent who have openly supported Punk during this whole saga.

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His main event match will feature two of his closest friends, FTR. Across the ring will be one of his longtime friends and former ROH foe, Samoa Joe. Punk will continue working with younger talent, like “Switchblade” Jay White and Juice Robinson. Although both men are well-established, they haven’t established themselves in the same way in AEW yet.

When I wrote about Punk’s return being Moment of the Year, I wrote that sometimes, pro wrestling is magic. I still believe it and that moment was magic. But everything that glitters is not gold (even when you’re holding the company’s biggest title).

How much magic can Punk still create? Will he get to write his final chapter the way he wants or is he still a ticking time bomb?