9. When Did It All Go Wrong?
It all went wrong, badly, at some point. This much is known.
Punk was buddy buddy with Page on Twitter as late as January 25. It's unclear whether Page reciprocated Page's bromantic advances, but the point remains: Punk in early 2022 wasn't a paranoid, hateful mess under the belief that the Elite were conspiring against him. In the meantime, Cabana was working in AEW as a road agent; the Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Dave Meltzer reported this in the November 7, 2022 Observer, while Cabana himself, in a December '21 interview with The Danger Zone, confirmed it. "How do I become the best…maybe I'm not known as the World champion, but maybe I'm known as the World champion producer, which would only be appreciated by the wrestlers."
At some point between January 5, 2022 (when WWE released him) and Revolution on March 6 (when Tony Khan announced his hiring), Ace Steel was recruited to AEW to work as an agent. In parallel, Cabana disappeared. Steel's arrival in AEW coincided with Colt's vanishing; Colt last wrestled for AEW, before Punk went AWOL, on March 4. The only other occasions on which Colt worked under the AEW umbrella were in August - but in Germany, a continent away from Punk, for a games convention.
AEW's rotating cast policy might explain this all away. Often, healthy wrestlers go months on end without appearing for AEW, even those who aren't known to be on unfriendly terms with the promotion (see: Lance Archer).
But Cabana was an agent, and it's not as if AEW was overstocked in that department: Pat Buck was signed for a producer role in April.
What other conclusion can be drawn here?!
Did Punk use the hiring of Ace Steel to get what he might have secretly wanted all along - Colt gone - but couldn't orchestrate immediately without political push-back?
Was Punk opportunistic more than malicious in forcing Cabana out?