Based on what we saw at the end of All Out it seems likely that the MJF promo from a few months ago was planned from the beginning just maybe the words used were not planned. The promo lit a fire under MJF and fans interest in him turning to the good side. How things ended at All Out number one it is clear that Punk and MJF aren't finished yet and second the fans might be more willing to support Maxwell. Punk spoke about MJF during the media scrum calling him out for s*** where he eats and telling him the grass isn't always greener on the other side.
With his return at All Out in full scope it was clear that Max had never intended on leaving All Elite Wrestling and it seems more likely this was the plan from the outset. In an earlier article I mentioned Tony Khan sitting down and coming up with a long term plan for the promotion. The MJF/Punk saga should be the long term plan and shouldn't be blown off right away or on a small program for a ratings boost. Tony did well and made a smart decision with the booking of Moxley vs Punk now he needs to redeem that decision.
Punk's actions were unprofessional due to the timing of the expression no matter how true his statements where it wasn't the right time. Obviously Max isn't perfect and still has a lot to lean, but he's only 25 years old and has a lot of time left in the wrestling business or he can. Tony needs this be the cornerstone and to redeem the drama at Full Gear in November.
It seems that 2022 is the year of backstage drama in top wrestling promotions. In my opinion, the fact that we are having a hard time differentiating between work and shoot is a problem in itself. Working the boys can work if you don't do it often, but trying to always work the boys prevents anyone from truly knowing what is real and what isn't which isn't a good thing. Seven years ago Phil Brooks walked away from the world of wrestling and many of us thought he would never return.
Last year the moment most thought would never happen actually happened when CM Punk returned to the world of wrestling. Since then Punk has attempted to reestablish himself as a top draw in wrestling and prove even after seven years he still is one of the best. However, problems and drama have arose in recent weeks stemming from his previous rivalry with Hangman Page and a certain promo. Over a decade ago Punk had a falling out with his long time friend Colt Cabana who had been a very well liked member of the All Elite roster for a long time. Recently, Cabana was moved from AEW to the Ring of Honor roster which was the start of the drama.
Last night at the media scrum Punk had a lot to say including running down Hangman Page and EVP's ripping them apart (a breakdown can be found below). Punk didn't hold back on his opinion and instead of stepping in Tony sat there and just waited for his chance to speak. Clearly, Tony wants to be friends with his employees and not a strict boss. Punk's actions at the media scrum were unprofessional and completely unnecessary. It wasn't the proper environment for Punk to express his opinion and should've been done in private.
Tony should've cut the scrum short and instructed Punk to keep the question professional instead of allowing him to air dirty laundry in front of the media. Tony himself handled the question about Black's contract in a very professional manner and the situation with Punk should've been handled the same. As the World Champion CM Punk should be held to a hire standard and not allowed to act as he pleases. Tony needed to step in and not allow his World Champion to act unprofessional and should've cut him off. Jericho said it later on himself that it's best to keep somethings in house and yet this will not be handled in house.
A microscope will now be held on not only CM Punk, but Tony Khan, and All Elite Wrestling as a whole. This will be the toughest test the company has had to endure since the advent of the promotion as it involves wrestlers in positions of power. I believe to a point Tony Khan might be in more of a similar position to Eric Bischoff then some might've first thought. Below is again the breakdown of Punk's verbiage:
"Punk continued by saying, “There’s people who call themselves EVPs that should have fucking known better. This shit was none of their business. I understand sticking up for your fucking friends. I fucking get it. I stuck up for that guy [Colton] more than anybody. I paid his bills until I didn’t and it was my decision not to. When somebody [Page] who hasn’t done a damn thing in this business jeopardizes the first million-dollar house that this company has ever drawn off of my back and goes on national television and does that, it’s a disgrace to this industry. It’s a disgrace to this company. Now, we’re far beyond apologies. I gave him a fucking chance. It did not get handled and you saw what I had to do, which is very regrettable, lowering myself to his fucking level, but that’s where we’re at right now.”
Earlier today various disciplinary actions have been taken following the media scrum last weekend. Everyone who had been present during the altercation that has been in the news has been suspended. The only people that have yet to be disciplined are CM Punk and Ace Steel as the discipline is still in question as there is a possibility they might not be suspended. Tonight the uncertainty surrounding the World Championship and Trios Championship will be addressed by Tony Khan. Thus far I will praise Tony Khan for his handling so far of the incident, but that praise could easily dissipate depending on his decision of how to discipline the World Champion and Ace Steel.
It has since been reported that CM Punk has sustained a serious injury and will miss a prolonged period of time. Either way Punk still deserves a suspension for his part, because it will not make Tony look good if everyone else is suspended and Punk isn't disciplined just because he sustained an injury. The one thing that would be off the table in my opinion is termination due to his injury. If I was Tony I would suspend Punk until he is healthy and then decide what to do once he is 100%. As far as the AEW World Championship is concerned, we don't need another interim champion. I don't mind the intern concept, but you don't know when or if Punk will return to crown a real World Champion.
As far as the Trios Championship it is a shame that the future is in doubt for The Elite as champions considering the fact that The Elite are the first champions. Again there is no need for an interim champion here either. I would maybe hold a battle royal with various trios to set up a six man match the following week. It is unfortunate that this had to happen, but much like the World Champion should be held to a higher regard so should the EVPs.
Side note due to the fact that All Elite Wrestling just held as many tournaments as they've had this past year I think they should lighten up a little bit. I'm also a big supporter of the benefits of a battle royal and how many feuds can come out of a battle royal. It is understandable that you can't hold a battle royal for the Trios titles but you can for the World Title. If a battle royal isn't in the cards then a four way based on the rankings could also work.
Former Undisputed Era member and multiple time Tag Team champion Bobby Fish has fallen off the radar and is according to reports a free agent. Bobby made his AEW debut last October as one of many free agents to answer the open challenge of then TNT Champion Sammy Guevara. Bobby has been a featured star during his nearly long run in AEW alongside Adam Cole, Kyle O' Riley and Young Bucks. In my opinion, ReDragon is one of the best tag teams in wrestling and are capable of carrying a division like they did in NXT.
Fish has very sparingly been a featured singles star even though he is a very gifted in ring competitor it seems that he fits better as one half of a tag team. Bobby Fish isn't a free agent just yet as his contract with AEW is set to expire, but has yet to expire. I do believe that Bobby could be another person on the never ending list of corrections that Triple H would like to make to WWE I mean Roddy needs a partner.
Currently, AEW does have a bloated roster and even though they will be splitting some talent off to ROH until then though we will likely see some other stars walking away. The former Undisputed Era were suppose to be included in the Trios tournament, but were taken out of the tournament due to the trio not being fully healthy to be included.
With the biggest PPV event of the year right around the corner for All Elite Wrestling it is time for Tony to take a step back and reevaluate a few things. Think about this for a second management wise WWE structure is the best in the business. For example, Triple H might be head of creative also each show has a head writer with Ed Koskey & Jonathan Baeckstrom the head writers for Smackdown and Raw respectively. In my opinion, everyone shouldn't follow WWE and AEW has started taking steps forward fixing the structure issues, but there are still problems.
Clearly Tony can't handle creative by himself and if anything he should be maintaining it while delegating some duties to members of the company. Honestly, Road Dogg would've been a perfect hire for them to help with the creative structure. The reason for delegating being important is it would allow Tony the chance to focus on the day to day operations.
Side note the fact that Tony made the remarks against the Women's champion Thunder Rosa not being as important as CM Punk. It's not only inappropriate for the owner to make such a remark, but it's his fault that she doesn't have as much of an effect on the ratings as she could. Tony delegating is important, because you can't just keep having quarterly PPVs for Ring of Honor and expect the company to remain relevant. Also occupying time on Dynamite and Rampage with ROH is taking time away from AEW employees to get TV time.
I'm not perfect and I'm not trying to criticize AEW or Tony Khan as I'm more just trying to point out how important delegating is for a company and that Tony should spend a bit more time working on the structure of AEW. Right after All Out this weekend would be the perfect time to step back and come up with a plan for the rest of 2022 and maybe even a plan up until Double or Nothing in May.
I might actually try to put together a series of ideas that come to mind looking forward for the remainder of the year. Giving the Women's division their own show by the way will not fix the problem especially considering the fact that ROH would be better off with a show. Character development, long term planning and investing are still the most important aspects of the wrestling business even with how much the business has changed.
I've been focusing a lot on WWE recently for obvious reasons that doesn't mean I haven't been paying attention to AEW. Aside from the clear issue of needing to refocus and maybe put one person in charge of the women's division who can come up with a clear plan for the division. There is another pressing issue that is at the forefront of everyone's mind the amount of talent that the company has who lack a direction. In my opinion, I know the brand split has it's detractors especially because of the battles for brand supremacy there are advantages to the split though. This isn't where I say I think AEW needs a brand split because Rampage is not a comparable show to Dynamite.
Instead why not allocate certain talent for either show on a week to week basis so one week you see Hook on Rampage then in two weeks maybe a video package of a Hook match on Dark. I don't know that Hook has ever been on Dark, but you get the point. Long term planning is a massive part of any wrestling company's success. Planning on featuring a certain star on one show weekly and not the other would condition fans to be aware of the stars they might see on one program as oppose to the other. I'm not saying that top stars shouldn't be featured on Rampage and it should just be the B-Show as AEW doesn't have the same luxury as WWE to a point.
All I'm saying is planning the shows around talent you want to feature and even keeping that talent on the same brand would be an easy way to allow for more talent to be featured on a week to week basis on television. For example, I don't mind the Trustbusters as long as they don't become the weekly enhancement talent and actually have a reason to be seen as often as they are even if it is to elevate Parker. It is clear that AEW has been experiencing some growing pains especially recently which is expected, but how they handle the growing pains will be the real test.
Recently we've been hearing reports that CM Punk isn't the most satisfied person within the ranks of All Elite Wrestling. It is unclear what is causing the reported issues as it seems the mixed messages center around a Hangman Page promo from earlier in the year and Colt Cabana being moved to ROH. Number one if Punk is offended by something Page said in a promo earlier in the year it's up to him to handle it backstage and in a professional manner not to be a petulant child and whine about it on camera. As World Champion Punk is suppose to be the leader of the roster and his actions last week don't display him as a leader.
As for his relationship with Colt playing a part in the tension within the AEW locker room again it's unclear what caused the tension all we know it's what's been told to us. Punk and Cabana's falling out was covered seven years ago when it was relevant. In my opinion, if Cabana being on ROH's roster would benefit ROH more then his presence in AEW then he belongs in ROH and those in AEW need to accept that. Punk's presence should have no bearing on Cabana's job or where he best fits the only thing that should matter is Cabana being placed in a spot that would benefit everyone involved.
Again there seems to be mixed messages coming out about the tension within the AEW to me it just seems like something that could've been avoided and should've been handled differently. On the other side it seems like it could be wrestling news sites raising the heat and making a lot out of nothing. Punk might be a major star for the company, but nothing gives him the right to make demands or decision with regards to who should be in AEW or not. To address the fact that all this is a work they can't keep doing that the MJF thing was believable but they never followed up on it and lost there chance to manufacture another shoot angle would just be desperate in my book.
To fully understand the situation though we need to wait until Dynamite this week as Moxley vs Punk is happening a lot sooner then most of us expected. If any of this is true then Punk should lose the spot and Mox should be given the mantle. Either way though we are in for a banger this week on Dynamite when we see the two World Champions collide.
The one thing that I've noticed is that AEW has no trouble giving new faces more TV time but they don't always give fans an easy reason to care about the new faces. For example, Daniel Garcia and 2.0 go from being the go to enhancement talent to running with Jericho all of the sudden we are expected to take them seriously. Why? Associating with Chris Jericho makes the previous six months of television meaningless and just now they are different people or maybe all the wins they got on Dark and Elevation. If you want the YouTube shows to matter mention them on actual programming so the fans who don't watch those programs understand why certain talent matter.
Recently we've seen the arrival of The Trusterbusters aka Ariya Daivari, Slim J and Parker Boudreaux on programming without much of an explanation to why they matter. Props to them for giving the reason why people are siding with Ariya, but where are the wins that make them seen as more of a threat to talent and fans. Wins matter, because it shows the fans who should be taken seriously and which talent are more or less cannon fodder for the bigger stars.
I understand the lesser known stars are given victories on Dark or Elevation, but where are the recap videos, where is the mention of the pre-existing momentum. Why all of the sudden should someone like Garcia not be thought of as a joke if even with Chris Jericho he still doesn't win often same for 2.0. I know someone will likely say your complaining about something that doesn't matter or your point is outdated. Well let me ask, who do you pay more attention to sometimes without even realizing the people that normally win or the stars who usually lose. I'm not being critical or at least I'm not trying to be critical I just want to point out that AEW has programming they could be doing more with to use to there advantage.
I use to point out how WWE wasn't taking advantage of the tape library they have now I think AEW could be doing more to shine a light on the YouTube programming just so fans are more aware. Especially if you want to use those programs to push talent. Not offering an explanation to why the fans should care about someone they are unfamiliar with usually leads to fans brushing off the new talent and ignoring them until they figure that aspect out. Main point is you can use Dark and Elevation to promote the stars fans don't know but at least recap or mention the momentum, talent or the victories on the televised programming.
Last week on Dynamite we saw the split we all saw coming with Adam Cole and ReDragon finally turning on the Young Bucks. Question on everyone's mind is if only Bobby Fish is medically cleared then what happens next between Adam Cole and ReDragon against the Bucks. It does seem clear that Hangman Page might be on the Young Bucks side for the trios tournament and this issue might have to have a pin placed in it for the time being. At first Kenny Omega was who I expected to join the Bucks against Adam Cole, but it seems clear that Omega will not be returning to assist the Bucks.
Bigger picture Page has needed a bit of direction since he lost the World Championship to CM Punk so this is a good step for him. However, Kenny Omega vs Adam Cole seems like a dream match waiting to happen once everyone is healthy. Looking to the turn though it seems like this might be something that has been building since the Bucks turned on Adam before he left for WWE when they kicked him out of Bullet Club in favor of a certain "Villain."
Looking back, it does seem that the Bucks have finally moved back to the good side with Adam sticking on the heel side of the fence. If Adam, Kyle and Bobby are going to miss the trios tournament that will be unfortunate, but injuries are an evil in wrestling like in every sport that we have to deal with as fans. Realistically if the former Undisputed Era misses the tournament they will definitely have there presence felt during the tournament. Either way this turn will bring even more intrigue to a show that has been struggling due to a smattering of injuries recently.
Ever since Christian Cage turned on Jungle Boy a few weeks ago the former World Champion has been spiting fire and spewing venom. Cage is eloquently constructing promos that would make the stars of the past shed a tear, because he ain't pulling punches and holding back. Cage has heat and hatred from the AEW faithful, but also should remain untouchable until Jungle Boy gets a hold. Unlike MJF during his hottest run Cage has a bodyguard who should and has thus far stood in the way of anyway getting to close to Christian. The turn was unexpected but has been by far one of the most interesting parts of wrestling right now in any company.
Though seeing Jurassic Express come to an end is unfortunate it was time and with the depth in the AEW tag team division it will allow the cream to rise to the top. Jungle Boy was hitting on all cylinders and would be branching out soon enough. This way Luchasaurus can establish himself and escape the shadow of his former partner. Luchasaurus needed a refresh and a fresh coat of paint Christian has given that to him ten fold. Matt Hardy's association with Private Party didn't help anyone unlike that this has helped Luchasaurus ten times over. I'm excited to see where this story continues to go and honestly the longer Jungle Boy is gone the better. How can I miss you if you don't go away??
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