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The 411 Dumpster Fire of the Week: The Tony Khan & AEW All In Footage Edition

April 12, 2024 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
AEW All In Tony Khan Image Credit: AEW

The 411 Dumpster Fire of the Week

Hello, everyone, and welcome to another special edition of The 411 Dumpster Fire of the Week. I’m Bryan Kristopowitz.

Well, I guess I’m doing this again because stupid things keep happening in the world of pop culture. This is now the third time I’ve had to bring this column back for a special edition “one-off.”

Can the pop culture world please stop doing stupid stuff? Please? I’ve got other stuff to do.

Here are links to the last two special editions I did:

This one is about the Vince McMahon sexual abuse story.

And this one is about the big discussion the internet had over the upcoming reboot of The Crow.

And now, onto the next one. What is it about?

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DumpsterFire1A

Image Credit: Impact Wrestling/AEW

This week, the 411 Dumpster Fire of the Week goes to Tony Khan and his pro wrestling company All Elite Wrestling (AEW), for the All In backstage footage reveal on the April 10th edition of AEW Dynamite. AEW had their lead announcer Tony Schiavone announce on their April 6th edition of its other two hour pro wrestling show, AEW Collision, that the Young Bucks, in their evil EVP Mathew and Nicholas Jackson gimmick, would be “revealing” backstage footage from the big AEW All In pay-per-view from Wembley Stadium from August of 2023. As soon as that announcement was made the internet pro wrestling news world reported that the Young Bucks would be showing the actual, real backstage footage from the fight/brawl/skirmish/incident between CM Punk and Jack Perry (an incident that led to Punk being fired from AEW and Perry being suspended after an internal investigation). It was immediately assumed that this “big reveal” was in response to the interview CM Punk did with Ariel Helwani for the MMA Hour podcast/YouTube show/whatever the hell it is, where Punk answered questions from Helwani about his time in AEW and the All In incident and basically buried the company and Tony Khan.

The All In footage, which appeared at roughly the 45 minute mark of Dynamite, ran for about 1 minute 15 seconds and shows Punk talking with Perry backstage (the footage is silent so we don’t hear what anyone is saying so the rest of this incident description is based on what Punk said during the Helwani interview and other news reports), apparently confronting him over comments Perry made during his All In pre-show match against Hook, comments that Punk took major exception to. After some back and forth, Punk shoves Perry, then Punk puts Perry in a front facelock/”choke” before the fight is broken up and they’re pulled apart (Samoa Joe grabs Perry while Jerry Lynn and someone else grabs Punk). Punk then confronts Khan (we briefly see Khan’s arm and hand at one point during the skirmish), says something (Punk reportedly called Khan a “clown” and told Khan that he quits), and is then ushered away.

Now, what was the point of airing this footage? Again, the basic assumption is that Khan wanted to embarrass Punk for what he said during the Helwani interview (“Khan is a nice guy but he isn’t a boss,” “AEW isn’t a real business,” etc.) and to stick up for his wrestling company. The footage was also used as part of the build to the upcoming AEW World Tag Team Title Tournament finals match between the Young Bucks and FTR (FTR are known friends with Punk, and the Bucks tried to position the footage as the reason the Bucks lost to FTR at All In as the Bucks were “distracted” by what happened as they are Executive Vice Presidents in AEW and had to focus more on that part of their job instead of being wrestlers). And the footage is also believed to be part of how Jack Perry is going to return to AEW (Perry’s current persona in New Japan Pro Wrestling is “The Scapegoat”) and become part of The Elite group that currently includes the Young Bucks and AEW Continental Champion Okada. And, above all else, the presumed hope is that the buzz surrounding the big reveal would generate a big rating for Dynamite.

So did any of that happen? Did the big scheme succeed?

No. It didn’t succeed at all. The whole thing was a big waste of time. A complete disaster. A big letdown. A gigantic fucking mistake. It went over about as well as a sudden bout of explosive diarrhea.

“But Tony Khan needed to stick up for his company!” Did he, though? What would have happened if Khan didn’t say anything, maintained his “no comment” comment regarding everything related to CM Punk, and just focused on his own company? The Internet Wrestling Community would have continued to talk about the Punk/Helwani interview for maybe another week, and then something else would have likely happened and the Punk/AEW story would have been, again, old news. Why not go with that strategy?

And, yes, I know that Triple H and several other WWE personalities made snide comments about AEW in the run-up to WrestleMania 40, but, again, so what? What’s wrong with just leaving it alone and focusing on your own stuff?

And how about this. If it was so goddamn important to get the All In footage out into the world to tell the “AEW side” of what happened, why not give the footage to Dave Meltzer or Sean Ross Sapp or any other pro wrestling reporter or website (I’m sure 411 would have loved to have had an exclusive from Tony Khan) and then do a full interview about what happened?

“But CM Punk assaulted one of his co-workers!” Yes he did, and it was wrong. I know there are plenty of people all over the IWC right now saying some form of “it’s a locker room full of alpha male pro athletes, they are going to fight one another “for real” from time to time,” and that’s fine but, again, employees really shouldn’t be fighting in front of their boss. But didn’t Punk get fired “for cause” after what he did? Yes, yes he did. Khan went on TV and announced it. Punk lost his job, AEW lost a major star, it was a bad situation for all involved. What sort of actual new context did the footage provide? What do we actually know now that we didn’t know when the news first broke about the incident? Nothing.

“But it shows that Jon Moxley and all of the other people who said that CM Punk was a cancer and weak were right! And Punk is a cheap shot artist!” While we don’t know the full ins and outs of every angle from this story (the Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, and Adam Page haven’t done any full on, sit down interviews about the incident, and we haven’t heard much of anything substantial from Tony Khan or any other AEW executive about the beef between the Young Bucks, Omega, Page, and Punk), I would like to know why anyone is surprised that Punk is a hot head, difficult to work with, stubborn, and a narcissist who thinks his shit doesn’t stink? Wasn’t all of that part of his appeal?

And I can’t argue with the “cheap shot” claim. Punk did push Perry while Perry had his hands up and in his hair. That seems pretty messed up. But then, we couldn’t hear what anyone was saying. It sure seems like Khan’s employees didn’t think highly enough of him to not fight in front of him. I have a feeling that, as time goes on, we’re going to start hearing more and more about the backstage atmosphere in AEW and we’re going to find out that it isn’t the full on “chill” and happy place it’s been made out to be.

“But it was used to get heat for an angle! Isn’t that what good pro wrestling is all about, blending the line between real life and the show? And what better way to pop a big rating with controversy!” I would buy this argument more if, in the whole “the Young Bucks want to get heat on themselves for the tag team match against FTR” if the footage showed FTR taking part in the pull apart. FTR isn’t in the footage at all (we see Samoa Joe, Hook, Perry, Punk, Malakai Black, Taz, Jerry Lynn, but no FTR).

But FTR and Punk are friends! If that’s true (it is), why not show them together to remind people that they’re friends? Punk and FTR did a few six-man tag team matches, why not show highlights from those matches?

Or how about just build up the fact that FTR and the Young Bucks are going to have a fourth big tag team match? Shouldn’t that fact be enough?

And if you’re going to say “they’re just doing this to bring back Jack Perry,” why not just have Perry show up at the AEW Dynasty pay-per-view so he can interfere in the match, cost FTR the win, and then do a big hooha interview on the next Dynamite? And why not just have Perry come back as a bad guy, which he was the last time he was on AEW television? Who gives a shit about the ongoing “scapegoat” gimmick that Perry is doing in New Japan? Why can’t continue being the asshole he was before he was suspended?

How did the rating thing go? The footage reveal did get the second highest quarter hour rating but it didn’t pop a gigantic rating. I’d suspect that more people likely saw the footage online, on social media, than they did on the TV show. So what was accomplished?

And on top of all of that shit, the big reveal just exacerbated the ongoing tribalism that infects the internet wrestling community/pro wrestling fandom. Once the footage ended each side returned to their corners to take endless shots at the other side (“AEW neckbeards are just a bunch of pussies!” “The E-drones love sexual assault!” And Punk was both the ultimate badass and the weakest living being in the history of the world, the coolest guy who ever lived and someone who is probably an abuser, and a guy I didn’t believe in because he used to wrestle for the other company but now I do or I did believe in him before because he wrestled for the other company but now I don’t, depending on which side you base your entire personality on). And it all became an even bigger and more enduring bad look for pro wrestling fandom (and what’s the deal with each side referring to the other side as gigantically fat weirdoes that live in their Mom’s basement, need to touch grass, and get laid?). Why can’t we all “just enjoy wrestling?”

So what happens next?

AEW will continue to try to build up its next pay-per-view, Dynasty. The IWC will retreat to its corners and make fun of “the other side” and it will all be awful (each side will accuse the other of being smug and exhausting along with all of the usual stuff). CM Punk will continue to be CM Punk in WWE as he builds to some sort of match with Drew McIntyre (we’ll see how long he lasts. Will he make it to Summer Slam? Will he make it a year?). The WWE will continue to be the WWE (until the next shoe drops in the McMahon sexual assault story, then who knows what happens then).We will eventually find out about AEW’s next TV renewal (I’m sure that will be a fun story that won’t end up being like gang warfare). And history will show that the big All In footage reveal story will be some amalgamation of the Vince McMahon “Bret Hart screwed Bret Hart” interview (and I don’t mean that this is going to lead to Tony Khan becoming “Mr. Khan” and the biggest bad guy in the history of pro wrestling, I mean more along the lines of “McMahon thought he was going to be seen as the babyface”), WCW era Eric Bischoff challenging Vince McMahon to a fight on pay-per-view, all of the bad parts of Vince Russo’s WCW run (so, you know, pretty much all of it), and Jim Ross in that episode of Darkside of the Ring about the Brawl for All (“Who got over?”).

Just some of the dumbest shit imaginable.

Now think about what would be going on “big discussion” wise if the footage showed something else than what was reported and didn’t line up with what Punk told Helwani? What if Jack Perry had really knocked out Punk, or if Punk fell on his ass and didn’t lay a hand on anyone? Any of that probably would have been worth releasing the footage, at least in the “changing the narrative” sense. But none of that happened.

Again, what a complete waste of time and effort.

And why aren’t we all talking more about how AEW showed big time rivals Samoa Joe and CM Punk backstage “in real life,” alongside Jack Perry and Hook, who just had a big brawl, on TV? I know kayfabe is basically dead but doesn’t showing that kill some of the suspension of disbelief?

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Honorable Mentions

Sylvester Stallone, for apparently making disparaging remarks about background actors on the set of his TV show Tulsa King. The director of the show, Craig Zisk, denies that Stallone or anyone else said anything hurtful about any of the show’s background actors, and there’s some sort of investigation going on by the show’s producers Paramount, but it would be nice if Sly released a statement of some sort. Because, really, the longer this story “undergoes a thorough investigation” by Paramount and Stallone doesn’t say anything himself, the harder it’s going to be to believe that Stallone wasn’t being a dick. This incident certainly isn’t going to destroy Stallone’s career or cause Tulsa King to get cancelled, but it’s still not a good look.

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article topics :

AEW, Tony Khan, Bryan Kristopowitz