CM Punk won the AEW Championship at All Out, AEW’s latest (excellent) pay-per-view, but he was conspicuously absent from AEW Dynamite. On the September 7 episode of Dynamite, company president Tony Hahn announced that the AEW Championship was vacated, along with the Trios Championship, but no explanation was given as to why.

There are two reasons. First, after All Out, a real backstage brawl broke out between CM Punk on one side and “The Young Bucks” Matt and Nick Jackson, plus Kenny Omega, on the other. All participants in the melee have been suspended, Sports Illustrated first reported. Unfortunately, almost everyone involved was a champion of some sort, which is why both the AEW and Trios Championships were vacated.

The second, equally unpleasant reason is that CM Punk reportedly tore his triceps in All Out’s main event match against Jon Moxley. Suspended or not, Punk is believed to miss up to 8 months of ring time, according to the Wrestling Observer. AEW has yet to acknowledge Punk’s injury.

Explosive comments made by Punk during the AEW All Out post-show press conference precipitated an actual brawl backstage involving Punk, Omega and the Young Bucks.

Punk, whose real name is Phil Brooks, went on a profanity-laced tirade against “The Executioner” Adam Page, Matt and Nick Jackson and Scott “Colt Cabana” Colton. Criticizing The Young Bucks, who are both active performers and executive vice presidents of AEW, Punk described them as “irresponsible people who call themselves EVPs” who “can’t run a damn goal.”

The affair turned violent after the media skirmish. According to several wrestling postsa fight broke out between CM Punk and AEW producer Ace Steel on one side and, on the other, the Jacksons and AEW EVP Kenny Omega.

A tournament featuring Jon Moxley, Hangman Page, Chris Jericho, Bryan Danielson, Darby Allin and Sammy Guevara was set up to crown a new AEW Championship: Moxley and Danielson would battle it out at Dynamite Finals next week.

AEW was contacted for comment but did not respond. Here’s what you need to know.

Scott “Colt Cabana” Colton.

AEW

What happened between CM Punk and Colt Cabana?

CM Punk and Scott “Colt Cabana” Colton were famously good friends for many years. Cabana has had a long career as an independent wrestler, most notably performing for Ring of Honor before signing with AEW, and is a podcast pioneer in the industry with his Art of Wrestling podcast series.

The most popular episode of the Art of Wrestling podcast featured CM Punk in 2014. In it, Punk detailed his controversial departure from WWE, including health concerns that he claimed were not properly addressed by WWE’s medical staff. WWE ring doctor Chris Amann sued Punk and Cabana for defamation, a case he ultimately lost.

But that was just the beginning of the legal proceedings for Punk. Cabana sued Punk for $1.2 million, claiming that Punk reneged on a promise to cover Cabana’s legal fees in the Aman case. Punk countersued and the problem was settled out of court a year later.

Little has been said by Punk or Cabana about their falling out, although it was a topic of discussion among wrestling fans when Punk made his AEW debut last September. When it was reported that AEW founder Tony Hahn planned to not renew Cabana’s contract, there was speculation that Punk had something to do with it. CM Punk has vehemently denied these allegations.

Cabana has since been moved to Ring of Honor, a wrestling promotion that Khan purchased earlier in the year.

What does Hangman Page have to do with this?

cm-punk-hangman-page

“Executioner” Adam Page and CM Punk.

AEW

CM Punk defeated “Hangman” Adam Page to win the AEW Championship at Double or Nothing in May. In the build-up to their pay-per-view clash, Punk and Paige had many storyline confrontations. Punk took exception to the page’s comments made in one segment.

“You talk a big game about workers’ rights, well, you’ve shown the exact opposite since you got here,” Paige said, seemingly referring to the potential release of Colt Cabana due to Punk. Page and Cabana were in the same Dark Order faction on TV and are probably friends in real life. Page also said in the promo that off-camera moments make a champion and that he wants to protect AEW from Punk.

As always in pro wrestling, the line between reality and fiction is blurred. It’s also unclear exactly what comment Punk objected to.

Following his victory against Paige at Double or Nothing, Punk suffered a leg injury that sidelined him for over 2 months. During this time, Jon Moxley won the interim AEW Championship, setting up a future clash with Punk. But when Punk returned on the August 19 episode of Dynamite, the first person he talked about wasn’t Moxley—it was Executioner Paige.

Punk called Hangman Page into the ring at an apparently unrecorded moment, then called him a coward for not accepting the challenge. “The apology should be as loud and public as the disrespect,” Punk said. “And if anyone else has a problem with the champion, I suggest you come downstairs.”

Punk’s comments were dissected by wrestling fans and the media, but most of them were aired during Sunday’s All Out. Then came the media fray after the event.

What did CM Punk say after All Out?

AEW always holds press conferences after its pay-per-views, with founder and president Tony Khan answering questions from the media alongside top stars. Punk and Khan opened the feud at All Out after the show, and Punk quickly dealt with the ongoing tension.

He talks about Cabana first, going over their controversial history before taking aim at Matt and Nick Jackson and potentially Kenny Omega. Punk claimed that AEW’s EVP misled the media, claiming that he was involved in leaking Cabana’s contract rumors. “They’re spreading lies and bullshit… that I’ve fired someone when I’m dealing with the hell out of them.”

Punk then addressed Paige’s comments in their promo before Double or Nothing in May, saying that the fact that she had to make the statement was embarrassing. “What in the world have I done to deserve an empty-headed fucking dumbass like Hangman Adam Page to go on national television and go into business for himself?”

Punk said Page threatened the first $1 million house drawn by AEW – referring to ticket sales from Double or Nothing – and said it was a “disgrace”.

“We’re way beyond apologies,” Punk said, adding that he gave Paige, but “it wasn’t processed and you saw what I had to do.” he said in reference to how he called out Paige in his comeback promo.

Punk also responded to Page’s statements in a recent Inside The Ropes interview, where Paige said she doesn’t feel she needs to take advice from wrestling veterans. “Our dressing room, for all the wisdom and brilliance it possesses, is worth nothing when you have an empty-headed idiot who has never done anything in the business giving public interviews and saying, ‘I really don’t take advice. ‘Who the hell do you think you are?’

Page and Cabana were the only people Punk specifically mentioned. Matt and Nick Jackson were only referred to as “EVP”.

“If you’re an EVP, don’t try to put on the best babyface and make your niche audience on the internet hate him because of some made-up, stupid rumor,” Punk said. “It really pisses me off… I’m trying to make money, sell tickets, fill halls, and these idiots think they’re in Reseda.”

Reseda, California, a neighborhood in California that is home to Pro Wrestling Guerilla, a promotion that often features The Young Bucks.

“I keep walking up and down that hallway saying, ‘if you got a fucking problem with me, take it with me. Let’s go, fuck it.’

Matt Jackson, Kenny Omega and Nick Jackson.

AEW

What happened after the media skirmish?

We have no official word on what happened backstage after Punk’s comments. The Wrestling Observer and Combative, two reliable pro wrestling publications, both reported on a brawl that ensued between CM Punk, his trainer and AEW producer Christopher “Ace Steel” Guy, Kenny Omega, and Matt and Nick Jackson. AEW trainer Pat Buck and wrestlers Brandon Cutler, Michael Nakazawa and Christopher Daniels were also reportedly involved in the fight’s suspension.

Punk reportedly attacked Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson was hit in the eye after Steele threw a chair at him. Steele also allegedly got into a melee with Kenny Omega, who is also EVP, allegedly biting him in the brawl. Accounts differ as to who started the fight. Some claim it was Punk and Steel, others say it was Omega and The Young Bucks. Steele’s wife was also reportedly in the room.

On Wednesday, This was reported by Sports Illustrated that Kenny Omega, Matt and Nick Jackson, Pat Buck, Brandon Cutler, Michael Nakazawa and Christopher Daniels are suspended. CM Punk and Ace Steel’s punishment will be determined after an internal investigation is completed, according to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer.

All of this puts AEW founder Tony Khan in a very awkward position. Over the past few weeks, news has surfaced that Eddie Kingston has been suspended for two weeks due to a backstage confrontation with Sami Guevara. After a disagreement, Kingston palmed Guevara in the face, earning him the suspension.

Khan now has to deal with a much bigger feud involving stars that are more integral to AEW. Punk is the company’s top star, and Omega and The Young Bucks are featured stars and executives. Punk on Sunday became the AEW Champion and Omega and The Young Bucks won the AEW Trios Championship.



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