10 Biggest Mysteries In The Secret War Between AEW And CM Punk

All Elite Wrestling won't "finish the story" - but are there enough clues for you to finish it?

CM Punk

Here are the facts:

CM Punk returned to professional wrestling by debuting for All Elite Wrestling in August 2021, and was so ecstatic over it that many impatient fans thought he had lost his edge. "Happy to be here" Punk winning TV matches is boring, they said. When is he going to be in a feud?

He was in a feud just over a year later, all right. He was in a feud with the entire promotion.

In a secretive offscreen programme - one so lurid and compelling that a series of great Dynamites between September and November 2022 were rendered dull by comparison - Punk warred with the Elite over his alleged involvement in the relegation/banishment/vanishing of their friend Colt Cabana.

Cabana and Punk, once inseparable, had fallen out - spectacularly - before Punk arrived in the same promotion to which Colt was contracted. A very infamous monetary dispute ended their friendship.

Immediately after All Out 2022, when Punk buried the Elite under the belief that they had leaked what he was adamant was a bullsh*t story to the media, a fracas broke out. Punk allegedly attacked one of the Young Bucks. The Elite and Punk were sent home. Only the Elite came back.

Those are the facts, but to borrow a cliché, they don't tell the full story.

Can that story be told by going over the pieces, some hidden from view, and putting them all together...?

10. Was CM Punk Destined To Self-Implode?

CM Punk


On October 27, 2021 and November 24, 2021, CM Punk and Colt Cabana worked the same live episode of Dynamite. In October, Cabana teamed with the Dark Order and defeated the Elite while Punk defeated Bobby Fish in the opener; less than a month later, Punk defeated QT Marshall where, later in the show, Colt lost to Bryan Danielson.

There are two things of interest here beyond the on-record fact that Punk, at least in 2021, didn't "care where [Colt] works, where he doesn't work". That's what Punk said at the infamous Brawl Out presser, and evidently, he wasn't lying (again: if late 2021 is any indication).

Firstly, it happened twice. If Khan somehow hadn't realised that he'd booked Punk and Cabana to work the same show, and Punk had expressly said that he didn't want Cabana in AEW, that's one thing. It happened a second time less than a month later. Punk is not a shy or timid individual. If he had a problem, he'd have let Khan know by October 28 at the latest.

Secondly, Khan wasn't left without a choice on October 27. Dark Order member Alex Reynolds could have substituted for Cabana, in the event that Punk had a problem: Reynolds was fit, having worked Beyond Wrestling on October 28.


At one point, CM Punk was as good as his word: he worked alongside Colt Cabana in an AEW setting. What's more, after the November 17 Dynamite and Rampage tapings, Punk and Hangman sang 'Take Me Home, Country Roads' to send the crowd home happy. Punk continued to befriend Page on Twitter as recently as January 2022. He was very happy in AEW, and he wanted to be Page's friend knowing that Page was also friends with Cabana.

This was all very mature and reasonable, no?

Punk was as good as his word.

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Michael Sidgwick is an editor, writer and podcaster for WhatCulture Wrestling. With over seven years of experience in wrestling analysis, Michael was published in the influential institution that was Power Slam magazine, and specialises in providing insights into All Elite Wrestling - so much so that he wrote a book about the subject. You can order Becoming All Elite: The Rise Of AEW on Amazon. Possessing a deep knowledge also of WWE, WCW, ECW and New Japan Pro Wrestling, Michael’s work has been publicly praised by former AEW World Champion Kenny Omega, present AEW World Champion MJF, and surefire Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Cody Rhodes. When he isn’t putting your finger on why things are the way they are in the endlessly fascinating world of professional wrestling, Michael wraps his own around a hand grinder to explore the world of specialty coffee. Follow Michael on X (formerly known as Twitter) @MSidgwick for more!