“Doubtful” CM Punk Will Return To AEW, Update On Potential Contract Buy-Out

CM Punk in AEW

CM Punk hasn’t wrestled since defeating Jon Moxley in the main event of All Out on September 4th. With victory Punk secured the AEW World Championship for a second time in front of his adoring hometown Chicago crowd.

However, the action in the ring was quickly overshadowed by his explosive appearance at the post-event press conference where launched a verbal assault on a number of AEW stars. Punk openly went after Adam Page, Colt Cabana, the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega as Tony Khan watched on.

These comments sparked a brawl backstage with everyone being involved getting suspended as an investigation was launched. While Punk, Omega and the Young Bucks remain suspended, Ace Steel, who was also involved has been released.

“It Looks Doubtful CM Punk Will Be Back” – Dave Meltzer

While is Punk suspended he would be unable to wrestle regardless after undergoing surgery on a triceps injury.

Following the news of Ace Steel’s exit speculation regarding Punk’s future came to the fore once again. Writing the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer has now suggested it is unlikely that he will be back in an AEW ring. Furthermore, AEW is in talks with the star over a contract buy-out to facilitate his departure. However, the sticking point appears to be the issue of a non-compete clause, perhaps surprisingly, this seems to indicate there has been, or AEW are worried about interest from WWE.

“AEW is in talks with Punk about the future but right now it looks doubtful he will be back. Those with close knowledge of the situation said they are in talks with Punk about a buy-out of the remaining years of his contract which tells you that they are not looking to bring him back.

The hold-up right now is said to be the non-compete period. Obviously if the non-compete is an issue, it’s about interest in going to WWE because there’s no need for a non-compete otherwise because nobody else but AEW and WWE can pay him close to what he was making.”

Meltzer adds that while there has been negative feeling from many within WWE towards Punk in the past, the optics of ‘stealing’ one of AEW’s biggest stars could override this.

“There are those in WWE who have been very negative towards him in the past, but it is a wrestling war and the optics of looking publicly like they have taken Punk from AEW would be very significant. HHH’s whole game right now is about surprise debuts and Punk would be the biggest possible for him to bring in for impact.

There is the flip side to this of course and there’s no lock WWE would take him since when FOX pushed them to take him, they didn’t. But they likely underestimated how much he’d been to the fan base as his AEW debut showed.

One hold up on the buy out is the non-complete, but that’s really a moot point because even with a six-month non-compete, Punk wouldn’t be ready to return until the non-compete is over. However, the idea of Punk being released this week and being on WWE television just for appearances before he can wrestle would look like a huge coup for WWE over the next few weeks, especially with AEW not nearly as hot when it comes to things like ticket selling and streaming. Both AEW and Punk didn’t comment, nor deny this.”

In closing, Meltzer notes that the feeling towards CM Punk from many within AEW is negative due to his conduct in recent months.

“The sentiment of those in AEW among most talent, not all talent, was decidedly anti-Punk, between the television promo on Page, who is overall very popular with the talent, the scrum where he said Page had never done anything in the business which was taken as saying AEW means nothing in wrestling since Page had been one of the top stars since day one and headlined three successful PPV shows and been in arguably the best match in company history (Young Bucks vs. Kenny Omega & Page). The fight also made the entire company look bad.”

There has been no direct contact between WWE and CM Punk, although the star is close to Adam Pearce, and has been close in the past to Paul Heyman.

“It is said that nobody from WWE has had any actual contact with Punk and Guy, but Punk is close with Adam Pearce, who has some pull there, and Punk in the past has been extremely close to Paul Heyman, who also is someone that the higher-ups seem to listen to a lot.”

CM Punk and The Elite were references on AEW television for the first time since the incident at All Out on the October 18th editions of Dynamite.