Well over a month after it all went down, the situation surrounding CM Punk and the backstage altercation at AEW All Out has started to make headlines again this week. That’s after both Punk and The Elite were mentioned on AEW TV for the first time since the incident. Ace Steel, another employee who was allegedly involved in the incident, was also released earlier this week.
According to the latest edition of Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the potential reason we have been hearing more about how the situation is progressing is due to some progress actually being made. It’s believed the whole thing has been tied up in red tape for the past six weeks. However, the new report claims AEW is currently in the process of negotiating a buy out for the rest of Punk’s contract.
If that is the plan, then clearly the ship has sailed on any hope that Punk will be returning to AEW once he’s recovered from his injury. The two-time AEW Champion needed surgery after his match at All Out and will be on the shelf for at least six months. Despite not being able to wrestle until at least early 2023, apparently, the hang-up when it comes to Punk’s potential buy out is his non-compete.
While not specified, it seems likely Punk doesn’t have a non-compete clause in his contract. Either that or buying out the deal isn’t something AEW ever anticipated it would need to do, so a buy out doesn’t trigger it. The fear is presumably that Punk will leave AEW and show up in WWE. Something that was once completely off the table, but a lot of things have changed since Punk returned to wrestling and signed with AEW in 2021.
WWE reportedly turned down the chance to talk to Punk about returning to the ring when he worked for Fox on WWE Backstage. Even though Punk and Triple H famously don’t get along, their interests have differed so much in the past three months that they may now align. Signing Punk would be the biggest blow WWE could possibly deal to AEW, and the sour taste in Punk’s mouth from how his time appears to have ended there could have him thinking a return to WWE might now be the best thing to do.