wrestling / Columns

CM Punk, Tony Khan, & What Must Change For AEW After All Out

September 6, 2022 | Posted by Kelly Sullivan
CM Punk AEW All Out Image Credit: AEW

On Sunday night, AEW closed its All Out pay-per-view on a high note when MJF was reintroduced into the fold.

After CM Punk defeated Jon Moxley in the main event, the building went dark and we learned that The Joker, who had won the Casino Royale Ladder Match and a future shot at the AEW World Title, was the one and only MJF.

Unfortunately for AEW, the night went downhill from there.

Punk used the night’s media scrum to go on a verbal rampage on Colt Cabana, “Hangman” Adam Page, MJF, and the Young Bucks. In what seemed like a spot that which we should have had a very happy Punk because of his title win, instead he left very little to the imagination as to who he had problems with inside of AEW.

You can see the All Out media scrum here:

That wasn’t even the worst of it. There were rumors of a backstage altercation between CM Punk, Ace Steel, Kenny Omega, the Young Bucks, and possibly others shortly thereafter and one in which injuries were sustained.

If these rumors are true, then AEW is currently at the height of its turmoil, and all the events of the evening after All Out are overshadowing any of the great stuff that came out of the show. And that is not okay.

As we move towards Dynamite, the biggest questions in AEW have nothing to do with MJF, or what’s next for new champions Toni Storm, and The Elite.

The biggest question is how does AEW get some of its biggest stars to coexist?

What needs to change in AEW to kill the backstage turmoil?

There is plenty of blame to go around.

Adam Page fired the first shot as far as “going into business for himself” during his feud with Punk earlier in the year. CM Punk had the opportunity to handle things privately with a conversation, but instead, Punk chose to come out and fire back at Adam Page publicly, keeping the situation alive instead of trying to resolve it.

But the onus of the current state of AEW lies squarely on the shoulders of Tony Khan.

When AEW was created, it was billed as a better place to work for professional wrestlers. AEW was seen as a company with a friendlier work/road schedule and place with more creative freedom for the talent. It was said by many of the wrestlers who worked there that the backstage environment was familial and supportive.

However, any time you add more and more personalities to an existing roster, there is always the risk that some of those big personalities won’t mesh. And AEW has added a lot of talent to its roster over the past year.

Adding talent to the roster is something that a smart businessman does. You see it in every sort of business. When you have the opportunity to add talented people to your existing group, you do so. So, you can’t blame Tony Khan for that.

Where Khan has failed over and over again is in being the authority figure in his own company. He is a wrestling fan, and that is fine until it interferes with his ability to be an assertive leader that can keep his talent in line. Khan seems to want to be a friend to the talent before a leader, and with such a large group of diverse personalities and large egos, there needs to be a strong leader at the helm that is able to make tough decisions. Decisions that may hurt in the short term, but will ensure the long team success of the company.

Had Khan punished Page for the comments that Punk took exception to, or at the very least, sat them down and mediated things to an outcome that at least partially put the situation on ice, things would likely be much better in the AEW locker room right now. We would probably be talking about the All Out booking decisions instead of the animosity outside of the ring.

But not only did Khan not do that, but he also sat shoulder to shoulder with Punk at the All Out media scrum while Punk dumped gasoline on the fire over and over and over again. During that scrum, Punk spoke like the man that was above consequences, while Khan spoke like a man walking on eggshells around his direct supervisor.

As of right now, the inmates are running the asylum in AEW. However, the night is always darkest before the dawn, and this situation gives Tony Khan an opportunity to assert himself as a leader that will not put up with wrestlers stepping out of line in the future.

He has a chance to hand out some stiff punishments and cannot worry about how it affects his television at this time. His main concern needs to be being seen as a leader that will not put up with unprofessional behavior in his company.

AEW has reached a crossroads as a promotion. And Tony Khan is the man at the wheel.

If he doesn’t take the correct road, it could and most likely will be detrimental to the long-term future of the promotion.

article topics :

AEW, CM Punk, Tony Khan, Kelly Sullivan