The hatred between star players has sunk organizations and dynasties in the past. Will the situation between CM Punk and The Elite do the same for AEW?
Egos run big in entertainment. There are several examples of stories when an actor, athlete, or other performer goes on a tirade due to their ego running amok. While many may laugh, there’s a true question to be asked about when a star’s ego becomes harmful to the group. We’ve seen this across entertainment time and time again. But will we see it happen in All Elite Wrestling? The situation between CM Punk and The Elite has taken a new angle, but Punk is back on television and the fans are responding positively. But how long will this last, or will fans be forced to watch history unfold as it has for other powerhouse organizations in the past?
There are plenty of examples in professional sports of teammates who hated each other. Many will point to the ordeal between Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant that destroyed the budding dynasty for the LA Lakers as a prime example, but it’s far from the only one. Michael Westbrook and Stephen Davis. Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. The list can go on and on, but the point remained. These were all highly skilled, professional athletes, and millionaires who allowed their egos to run wild in a way that damaged the overall goal.
Could the same thing go down in All Elite Wrestling? By this time, everyone has heard about Brawl Out and the fiasco that followed. Nine months later, CM Punk made his return. He’s back and cutting promos in a way that only CM Punk can do. Fans and media members continue to debate about what is real versus scripted, and where the parties involved truly lie. It’s all great for today’s debate society, but one must wonder if long-term damage is unavoidable.
Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, and CM Punk are some of the best performers in the entire industry. They can have the egos that come with being top names in the game because they have resumes that deserve that level of praise. If history in these matters holds true, at some point the jokes, scathing promos, separate shows, and more will become too much. If professional sports organizations were forced to make roster moves, breaking up billion-dollar franchises because of million-dollar players, why is it too far to think that things could become rocky in a wrestling organization that is less than five years old?
What is interesting about many of those examples from sports is how the leaks about dissent propagated, fan response, and the outcomes. Major sports outlets would frequently talk about issues between players, starting out as jokes until they’d escalate into major interviews or brawls in the instance of some. Harding versus Kerrigan turned into a full-blown assault. Fans of those players and organizations always take sides, with one group being painted out as the instigator, the media getting dismissed and denigrated, and much more. Everything that is playing out within AEW, its coverage, and fan reaction isn’t new to those that follow professional sports. And that is what makes this situation so compelling to watch.
The big question is how Tony Khan will manage this situation. As the President and CEO of AEW, the onus is on him to keep things aligned in a manner to keep the members of the roster in place, while also keeping the networks trusting their investment. One of the reasons that Phil Jackson was called the “Zen Master” was because he was able to get so many “strong” personalities to work together for so long and win. Michael Jordan. Scottie Pippen. Dennis Rodman. Kobe Bryant. Shaquille O’Neal. Metta World Peace and many more are just scratching the surface. Khan will have to tap into those same powers to keep things in order within AEW. But will the talent be able to band together to see that happen?
It’s fun to speculate in professional wrestling. That’s one of the reasons why fans are so passionate about their favorite promotions and stars. Speculating about the situation in AEW is going to generate a lot of clicks, revenue, and attention. It will be interesting to see how the outcome will play out as the lines between reality and make-believe are further blurred.