wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Is CM Punk’s AEW Title Win an Historic One?

June 22, 2022 | Posted by Ryan Byers
CM Punk AEW Rampage, Chris Jericho AEW Image Credit: AEW

Welcome guys, gals, and gender non-binary pals, to Ask 411 Wrestling. I am your party host, Ryan Byers, and I am here to answer some of your burning inquiries about professional wrestling.

If you have one of those queries searing a hole in your brain, feel free to send it along to me at [email protected]. Don’t be shy about shooting those over – the more, the merrier.

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We’ve found HBK’s Smile:

Did CM Punk just become the first wrestler to win the top title in each of the three biggest promotions of his time? (Feel free to define “three biggest promotions” as you see best, although there is usually some consensus at any given time.)

The answer to this one is . . . no. I actually think it’s a “no” for a couple of different reasons.

The first is that I disagree with the notion that CM Punk has won the top title in each of the three biggest promotions of his time. I assume that the titles HBKsS is referring to in the question are the WWE Championship, the AEW Championship, and the ROH Championship, all of which Punk has unquestionably won. However, I don’t think those are the world titles in the three biggest promotions “of Punk’s time.”

Why not? Because, during a good portion of CM Punk’s in-ring career, TNA was a larger promotion than Ring of Honor, at some points by a substantial margin. Punk, though he spent time in TNA, was never the TNA Champion, nor was he the NWA Champion during the time that TNA licensed those titles. The way I look at things, in order to accomplish the goal that the question sets up for Punk, he would have to have been a WWE, AEW, and TNA Champion.

Of course, the above also limits the question to wrestling promotions based in the United States. NJPW, AAA, and CMLL have all at least arguably been larger promotions that TNA (even at its height) during Punk’s career, and he hasn’t won the world championships there, either.

Even if you consider the WWE, AEW, and ROH Titles to be the holy trinity that Punk had to capture in order to achieve what HBK’s Smile asked about, I can still think of somebody who beat him to the punch on the three world title accomplishment, at least in his home country. That man is:

Kensuke Sasaki.

On September 6, 2008, Sasaki won the GHC Heavyweight Title from Yoshihiro Takayama and, in doing so, became the first man in the history of puroresu to have held the major championships in New Japan Pro Wrestling, All Japan Pro Wrestling, and Pro Wrestling NOAH. In subsequent years, Takayama, Keiji Mutoh, and Satoshi Kojima would all achieve the same thing, all before CM Punk picked up his third championship in the States.

Sasaki also has one other thing on Punk: He’s got an undefeated MMA record. Kensuke has won two legitimate fights, one in 2001, the other in 2003, and both by submission.

Night Wolf the Wise wants to know who booked this shit:

What do you think are some of the most crazy storylines pitched in wrestling? There is one to me that comes to mind but I vaguely know the details about it. It involved Sting, DDP, and a tank of Piranhas. Any idea what that was about?

Regarding Sting, Diamond Dallas Page, and the piranha, you’re actually conflating two different proposed storylines that never saw air – though they did come from the same warped mind.

These pitches were memorialized by Chris Jericho in his first autobiography, A Lion’s Tale, though they weren’t Jericho’s ideas. Instead, they were the intellectual property of Hardbody Harrison, who was a preliminary wrestler in WCW from 1996 to 1999. Apparently, Hardbody liked to come up with angles and gimmicks for himself in an effort to get more television time . . . but none of them actually worked.

Harrison first suggested that Diamond Dallas Page should begin carrying a mystical crystal to the ring that would be promoted as having great value. Then, in order to kickstart a rivalry between the two men, Hardbody would steal the crystal and throw it into a tank of piranha. This is not to be confused with the time that Big Japan Wrestling actually promoted a “piranha deathmatch” between Kendo Nagasaki and Mitsuhiro Matsunaga, which featured a school of the carnivorous fish being positioned at center ring for the wrestlers to fling each other into.

As far as Sting is concerned, Hardbody apparently wanted to adopt a gimmick in which he would put on the Stinger’s trademark face paint and become the evil, Black version of Sting who would be called . . . wait for it . . . Stang.

I’m not kidding. It’s an idea that seems phenomenally racist even though it originated with a Black man.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention that, for those who did not already know, Hardbody (real name Harrison Norris Jr.) was convicted of multiple counts of sex trafficking in late 2007 and, in 2008, was sentenced to life in federal prison. Part of his defense was that all of the women he had in his troupe of prostitutes were just people that he was training to be professional wrestlers. This defense made zero sense to anybody who had ever seen Harrison in the ring, because he had no business training anybody.

Those are the storylines that Night Wolf asked about, but what about the first half of his question? What about my take on the most ludicrous wrestling plots that were never to be?

In my mind, the number one pick also comes from WCW, and it was pitched by Disco Inferno and recounted by Vince Russo in his autobiography. The idea was that Lance Storm would establish a stable of emotionless wrestlers who were all later revealed to be Martians intent on taking over the wrestling company as a first step to world domination. This would all build to a “Higher Power”-esque segment in which Storm would reveal the true leader of the Martians, with the camera panning over to Mike Tenay, who, thanks to a special effects shot, would grow a pair of antennae out of his head.

Disco Inferno has discussed this in a few interviews over the years, and he concedes that he pitched the idea, though he claims it was a joke that people who wanted to bury him reported as being a legitimate idea.

If Clyde had a time machine, Uncle Elmer versus Adrian Adonis could have been stopped:

Question, with every thing laid on the line, why couldn’t Wrestlemania I be made up of “good cards”, perhaps, like Santana vs. Valentine, and why put in people that weren’t WWF regulars at the time? I adore that Santana was part of the first Mania match, cause I mark for him to this day, but Executioner?

If it was me, I would be throwing everything that stuck, course, it’s easy for me to say almost 40 years later.

The answer is that the mentality of booking professional wrestling was significantly different then as compared to now. When WM rolls around these days, the company seemingly loads up the card and puts on as much as they can so that the event – hopefully – lives up to its name and its history. However, back in 1985 that sort of booking would have been seen as needlessly excessive.

Think about it this way. Wrestlemania, with the card as it was presented, sold out Madison Square Garden and did well enough on closed circuit television (pay per view was not really a factor yet) that it became an annual tradition as well as creating the format for major cards that in some ways endures to this very day.

If you can accomplish all that with the card as it was assembled, why do you need to make it any better than it was?

You don’t, and savvy promoters of the time knew that. Wrestling fans were willing to pay for one match cards in this era, particularly a one match card that was headlined by Mr. T and Cyndi Lauper, who were remarkably hot mainstream celebrities that did more to sell the show than any wrestler with the possible exception of Hulk Hogan.

If you don’t need a match like Santana vs. Valentine on the show to sell it, then you don’t put it on the card and you hold it back for a time when it might be able to do you more good.

In some ways, I wish modern WWE would take a cue from that old school mentality, because it might save us from having to see the same matches repeated three to five times in a row on major cards.

Bret takes us back to the Invasion . . . again:

I like many people hated the WCW Invasion back in 2001 when the WWF bought WCW. So many of the top stars like Hogan, Sting, Goldberg, Nash, Hall, and so on sat out on their Time Warner deals. Why do you think Vince didn’t wait for them in 2002? It would of been so much better. Or do you think he wanted to crush WCW to feel better about himself.

The original plan was not to do the Invasion in 2001. The original plan was to run WCW as a separate television program and keep the two brands apart until more heat could be built up for interpromotional interaction. It was only once the WWF failed to secure adequate television time for a separate WCW show that they had to abandon the initial idea and run with the Invasion angle, which missed out on the wrestlers sitting out their Time Warner contracts because Vince McMahon did not want to pay them enough to make leaving the Warner deals worth their while, as it would have upset the WWF’s pay structure at the time.

Ticking Time Bomb Taz needs a hero:

Was Lex Luger ever scheduled to win the WWF title, either at SummerSlam 1993 or Wrestlemania 10? Seems like McMahon gave him a huge push, but never had him win the big one.

Yes, the original plan was for him to win the championship at Summerslam ’93, but plans changed and the company went with the count out finish so that they could, in theory, build the Luger title win up even more and make it a bigger deal when it happened. However, over time, Lex lost momentum and the company decided to go with Bret Hart over him.

Adam has been monitoring things:

I have noticed that at WWE large arena shows they have screens showing the broadcast pointed in the direction off the ring. Wrestlemania 38 has them higher up but they are there. They are easily visible at Elimination Chamber but I cant see them at Day 1. It seems only to be at the larger arenas so I am wondering if you know who these are for as they are not facing the crowd and you would be looking across the ring to watch them if you can see them?

They’re for the audience members on the opposite side of the ring.

Yes, you had to look past the ring in order to see them, but, if you’re high enough up, the monitor still offers a better view of the action than squinting at the squared circle.

Ash has a groovy question:

A fantasy booking question for you. How would you book a royal rumble match for the WWE championship between the following 30 WWE legends if they were all on the roster at the same time and at their peak. Take into consideration how they were booked historically over their careers by WWE and how over they were in comparison to each other. It would be interesting to see a play by play report and who ends up as the ironman, most eliminations and eventual winner.

Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Randy Savage, Roddy Piper, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, HHH, Edge, Undertaker, Randy Orton, Ric Flair, John Cena, Kurt Angle, Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, Rey Mysterio, Sting, Kane, Batista, Jeff Hardy, Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, Mick Foley, Ultimate Warrior, Bret Hart, and one surprise wrestler of your choice

This is a difficult question to answer, because, in my opinion, in order to have an effectively booked Royal Rumble, you have to put the match in the context of an ongoing promotion with its own storylines and goals for who needs to get over for an upcoming push. Without knowing what the past angles in this hypothetical wrestling promotion have been and what is being built towards for the future, you’ve eliminated about 90% of what I would take into consideration when deciding who would win, how wrestlers would interact, who would get the most eliminations, and so on. Having a Royal Rumble for the sake of having a Royal Rumble just doesn’t quite work as well.

I’ll still give it my best shot, though.

The match opens with “Ride of the Valkyries” by Richard Wagner playing, heralding the entrance of Bryan Danielson. Why “Ride” and not “Final Countdown”? Because the second piece of music we’re hearing is also a bit of a classic composition: “Also sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss, bringing out Ric Flair.

Yes, it’s the Best in the World up against the Man to kick things off, and they head to the mat as you might imagine, trading reversals. After a standing switch, Flair gets behind Danielson and drops to his knees, giving AmDrag a chop block in the process. That sets up an early figure four. Danielson struggles for a bit but ultimately reverses the hold by rolling on to his stomach. From that position, Danielson is able to free his legs and float over into a LeBell lock.

Not wanting to be ambushed while down on the mat, Danielson drops the hold when the buzzer sounds and we hear “Sex Boy,” letting us know Shawn Michaels is number three. There’s a bit of a three-way faceoff here, with Michaels eyeballing his idol and Danielson eyeballing his trainer. HBK and the Nature Boy simultaneously chop the American Dragon to take him down, and they begin fighting among themselves. Michaels gets the better of it and whips Flair into the corner for a Flair flip, and it looks like we are setting up for Sweet Chin Music, but, before Shawn can get it off, he’s hit out of nowhere with a Baisuku knee from Danielson.

As soon as that connects, the buzzer his again, and our fourth entrant is Randall Keith Orton. His initial target is Ric Flair, probably because he’s still got some of that legend killing instinct in his system. Michaels and Danielson pair off as well, and things start to slow down a little bit until we get to entrant number five, who is . . .


This means we have Team RKO together in the ring, and they waste no time in pairing up and dominating the other three men, who cannot present a unified front. Eventually, Edge slides out of the ring and brings in a pair of folding chairs, handing one to Orton. It looks like we might see a con-chair-to on Danielson, which is particularly dangerous given his history with concussions, but before it can connect, Edge and Orton are distracted by the buzzer for entry number six, who is Jeff Hardy.

Hardy goes after Edge given their history, while other wrestlers occupy Orton to prevent the Charismatic Enigma from being double-teamed. Jeff even manages to set up one of the chairs that Edge brought into the ring to connect with a version of Poetry in Motion, which is followed immediately by a Twist of Fate. Hardy looks like he’s getting ready to toss his former rival, but the buzzer sounds. Oddly, there is no music and there is no pyro, because this is the entrance of a man so awe-inspiring that he needs neither of them.

It’s Andre the Giant. The six other wrestlers in the ring decide they need to put their differences aside, and all of them swarm the Giant, but he managed to shove all six away in the classic “roar spot.” Randy Orton hits Andre in the back with a chair, but it is no-sold, and Orton is taken down with a big overhand chop. While the Eighth Wonder of the World is occupied with Orton, Jeff Hardy ascends to the top rope, looking to take Andre down with a Whisper in the Wind. However, Andre sidesteps and hits Hardy on the way down, making it look as though he was swatted out of the air.

Andre then picks Jeff up, and Jeff Hardy becomes the first wrestler eliminated from this fantasy Royal Rumble.

At this point we get a buzzer followed by an explosion of fire from the ramp signaling the arrival of Kane at number eight. Kane immediately goes after Andre the Giant and the two tussle for a bit, with the Big Red Machine ultimately wrapping his hand around Andre’s throat for a chokeslam attempt. The Giant chops Kane’s arm to break the hold and then shoves him back against the ropes. When Kane is on the rebound, the Frenchman hits him with a dropkick (recall the question said everybody is in their athletic prime).

That move catches the Devil’s Favorite Demon off balance and he flips backward over the top rope and to the floor, meaning that he is the second elimination with a surprisingly short run in the match.

In at number nine: It’s Bill Goldberg. Like Kane, Goldberg’s first target is Andre the Giant, with the two men having a staredown at center ring. In an ill advised move, Goldberg immediately tries to slam Andre, but he can’t get the job done and takes a double sledge to the back. The Giant puts Goldberg into a bear hug in what is probably another poor strategic move as it immobilizes him and creates an opening for Team RKO to jump Andre. Edge and Orton begin to work over the big man, at which point it’s time for the tenth entrant.

It’s Roman Reigns. Superman punch for Shawn Michaels. Superman punch for Ric Flair. Superman punch for Bryan Danielson. Superman punch for Edge. Superman punch for Randy Orton. All five of those men go down, at which point it’s time for a Superman punch on Andre the Giant. Andre doesn’t even blink, but he is knocked off of his feet when Goldberg spears him out of nowhere. Andre gets back up to his feet relatively quickly, but, as soon as he does, he is taken down by a spear from Roman Reigns. Seeing his opportunity, Goldberg moves back in, and he is actually able to get the Giant up for the Jackhammer.

Reigns and Goldberg exchange a knowing glance and team up to toss Andre the Giant out of the ring.

The eleventh entrant is out, and it’s CM Punk. The Second City Saint has Ric Flair in his cross hairs, probably because the Nature Boy is about the furthest thing you can get from being Straight Edge. This is a moment in the match where we’ve got a bit of a lull in the action, with the eight wrestlers currently in the ring pairing off and engaging in some standard brawling to let the crowd calm down a bit after some big spots.

Our next big moment is the entrance for wrestler number twelve, and it’s the Uuuuuullllllllltimate Warrior. Warrior starts his traditional sprint down to the ring, but, when he gets about halfway there, a massive figure pops out of the crowd and tackles him. It’s BROCK LESNAR. Lesnar lays in some big right hands on the Warrior and eventually hercs him up for an F5 on the arena floor. Brock then rolls the Master of Destrucity into the ring, hits a second F5 there, and throws him out over the top rope, thus eliminating the Ultimate Warrior.

The announcers explain that Brock Lesnar was apparently scheduled to be the thirteenth entrant into the match, but he decided that he was going to jump the gun and come out early to gain a tactical advantage over the Warrior. It worked, too. Lesnar runs wild with some suplexes on Danielson, Edge, and Michaels, but he is neutralized a bit by Roman Reigns.

Once that happens, “Miseria Cantare (The Beginning)” starts to play, though there’s something off about it. The song is playing at double speed so that the vocals sound high pitched. Yes, it’s time for the mystery entrant that I got to choose. It’s time for:

CP Munk.

The acorn-free superstar enters the ring, and the match grinds to a halt because the competitors find this supremely confusing. CM Punk steps up to CP Munk and is not amused. He reads Munk the riot act, but Munk just reaches out and looks for a handshake. Punk declines and rocks Munk with a series of body blows, pushing Munk back into the corner. Once there, Punk slaps Munk. Hard. He then does it a second time. When he does it a third time, CP Munk’s mascot head goes flying off, revealing . . .

The Great Muta.

CM Punk finds himself blasted in the face with the lethal black mist, which sets up his elimination by Muta.

Now in at number fifteen is . . . Sting.

And we’ll have to see what the Stinger does next week, because this answer is already running longer than I thought it would, so we’ll bring you the back half of the match in the next edition of Ask 411.

That will do it for this week’s installment of the column. We’ll return in seven-ish days, and, as always, you can contribute your questions by emailing [email protected]. You can also leave questions in the comments below, but please note that I do not monitor the comments as closely as I do the email account, so emailing is the better way to get things answered.

article topics :

AEW, Ask 411 Wrestling, CM Punk, Ryan Byers