REPORT: CM Punk and AEW in talks over contract buy-out, non-compete cited as a sticking point

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AEW and CM Punk may be working towards an end to their working relationship.

The Wrestling Observer Newsletter reports that those close to the situation have informed the publication stated the two sides are in talks regarding a buy-out of Punk’s contract. The Observer added that the sticking point is the non-compete period that Punk would be forced to abide by.

Editor Dave Meltzer opined that the non-compete clause would only be a factor if WWE was an option for Punk as no other wrestling promotion would be able to pay the performer what he was earning in AEW other than the industry leader.

Punk has not appeared or been referenced on AEW programming since the backstage fight at All Out on 9/4 involving Punk, producer Ace Steel, Kenny Omega, and The Young Bucks. Punk’s image has appeared sparingly during promo spots for the video game (where he is the cover) and the ROH Championship roll call prior to Chris Jericho’s title defense this past Tuesday.

It was reported earlier this week that Steel was released by the promotion.

Punk sustained a torn triceps muscle during his match with Jon Moxley on the same night of the altercation and would be unable to perform regardless of the backstage altercation going down that same evening.

After 7 ½ years away from in-ring action, Punk returned to professional wrestling in August 2021 at a sold-out event in Chicago at the United Center for AEW and wrestled two weeks later at All Out against Darby Allin.

Punk immediately became the top star in the promotion and helped raise the average of its pay-per-view buys and headlined the company’s first event that did a $1 million gate at Double or Nothing in May.

Got to take CM Punks side on this one. You really can’t tell a guy that he’s done with your company, but also tell him you don’t want him working for the competition. My guess is Tony is scared Punk will show up on WWE TV and rip the elite a new one.

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Without knowing the dollar figures involved, I could see Punk being a stubborn SOB and not signing any buy-out he doesn’t agree with. He’ll sit home and get paid for the length of his deal just to prove a point.

And since I have the luxury of playing the ‘hypothetical game’, I would just let him go. If WWE wants to shell out the money it would take to bring in Punk, let them. Even if they put him over Reigns on his first night in the company, he will be unhappy there within a month.

The only hesitation I would have from AEW’s end is that you may not want to set a precedent. If we’re paying you in any way (including a buy-out), you’re not working for WWE. Full stop.

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After what he did, I would be surprised if any company offers him a contract.


Punk to WWE would surprise me because he is incredibly stubborn, and a lot of his beef was actually with Triple H and not Vince. But maybe he wants to stick it to AEW more than he wants to continue his grudge with WWE. Guy is a mess, but it’s undeniable that his next appearance will be huge. Just a big risk/reward thing to consider.

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Oh not me. Backstage fights with co-oworkers have always been a thing in wrestling. From Arn and Sid (which involved scissors), to Booker and Batista, to Jericho and Goldberg etc. etc. etc. I don’t think Punk was in the right by any stretch and it will probably take some time, but I can’t see this blackballing him from all of wrestling as he’s too big of a star. Money talks.

If the fight was with anyone other then the elite, I think he’s back in AEW. He just happened to get into it with most powerful/influential group of people in the company.

This is true, and this would be the only hold up IMO. With that said, Hunter has been known to squash Vince’s issues (ie. Bruno, Warrior), I’m curious to see if he is able to do the same with one of his own.

If Punk is done with AEW, it was a short, beautiful run that had a depressing end.


Many folks are going to hold the Elite directly responsible. Hope they’re prepared for an extended heel run.

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Maybe I’m missing something, but holding the Bucks and Kenny responsible for what exactly?

Punk went on a rant in public, allegedly threw the first punch, what are we blaming them for?


There are very few people that just seem like bad human beings. Punk certainly seems like one of them. I don’t see WWE bringing him in - they are already winning the race so I doubt they do something polarizing to disrupt things unless they fall behind


I never got the impression that Punk was a bad guy, I think with Punk he is a person who has VERY strong convictions, and if he feels that someone wronged him, he thinks that its his responsibility to take agency and let that person/company/entity etc. know.

I’m not going to pretend to know if the elite did what he thinks they did, but I will say that I believe in Punks mind, he is certain they did those things and tried to sabotage him.

Punk believes that the elite were feeding bullshit about him to the media, and then after he called them out they came to him looking for a fight. A lot of fans share this belief. I’m not saying I do, but this is his side.

Personally, I think he’s a bit paranoid and believes his own false narrative.

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The fighting backstage and potential injuries and lawsuits are all obviously the biggest issue.

But for me the cardinal sin CM Punk committed that should make him unemployable by a wrestling company is what he did going totally off script to randomly call out and try to bury Hangman. He should have been punished hard for that. And is absolutely forbidden in WWE so there would be a lot of concern beginning him in.

I don’t think TK needs to be too worried about the non-compete. Just get the buy-out done and move on.


I agree for the most part, however Punk can say the same thing about Page when he brought up the comment about Punk not caring about the workers. This to a degree is going to happen when you dont give guys “scripts”. And I get it, at least Page was taking a shot at a guy he was having a program with, Punk did it after the fact when it didnt make sense.

Truly, I am not on Punks side, but its not a situation where is 100% in the wrong, and the other side is 100% in the right.

That was in a promo. Punk was just pissed he didn’t have a good comeback. And instead lashed out in an irresponsible way. Kind of a pattern with him isn’t it?

100% its a pattern, I’m not on Punks side. My point is that both were adlibbed personal shots, Page was just much better at doing it subtly, while Punk was an idiot and made it obvious.

Here is what we know he has done

  1. He went on his best friends podcast and attacked WWE medical. When they threatened them to pull it down he then decided to force him to keep it up bc he would pay all the legal bills. Which he reneged on later and then attacked his best friend and humiliated him. Then years later mocks him for being poor and sharing an account with his mom. Remember - this was his best friend.

  2. He decides that Hangman Page has unfairly attacked him in a promo and that the Elite are leaking news to the reporters. So he called out a baby face former champ and made him look like a chump uncalled for. No fan watching had any idea what Hangman said to Punk mattered. Everyone saw this receipt.

  3. He at a news conference literally refers to AEW as a nothing organization implying those that have been champs there haven’t made it anywhere. He openly mocks their EVPs and still keeps going after Hangman. All while psychotically eating a muffin. Then he throws a punch at them

  4. He attacked the Rock for coming back and taking the top spot despite being a part timer. He then comes back after a long hiatus and cuts a promo about being the money guy and how he gets spots bc of his drawing ability. Which is uhm what exactly compared to the Rock?

  5. He believes he can walk into UFC and fight with real fighters despite virtually zero training or ability and literally is beat worse than people at home would be watching on their couch. Like we couldn’t have done worse than him. Only better

And there is more. Basically he burns bridges wherever he goes and is in it for one person - Punk.

Yes he draws fans and is a good promo. Yes people love him.

But he’s egoistical. Hes naracisstic. If he feels he is wronged he will get his receipt and the company be damned if they suffer for it. He puts down the people and place he works at. He will make promises to his best friend and put them in harms way then mock them for being poor. He literally has a news conference where he attacks EVPs and members of the roster and the company openly making his boss look like a Buffon next to him and then punches them in the face when they confront him, which he told them to do.

What about this implies to you that he is some great human being? He’s a great wrestler yes. But come on.


I agree with the first 95% of your post, the last line is a strawman. I never once said “he’s a great human being” what I said was:

I’m saying he’s not “a bad guy”. To me, a “bad guy” is someone who will do bad things to people for personal gain and/or pure selfishness. For example, Shawn Michaels in the 90’s was “a bad guy”. Punk is a guy that once he feels burned by you, will be an absolute prick.

Punk is a guy who is 100% egoistic, 100% a narcissist (Ironically I’ve always said that, and many used to shit on me for doing so when he was the internet hero). My opinion of Punk has never changed.

I feel we’re arguing semantics here, because like I said, I do agree with most of what you wrote.

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CM Punk is not a “bad guy”. He is a petty, immature child. Think about it for a second. By all accounts, he seemed pretty happy in AEW. I’m pretty certain that he said himself on instagram, that this was the best year of his career. He didnt seem to have any issues with Tony Khan.

But he felt so strongly about what he thinks The Elite may have done, that he had absolutely no problem making Tony Khan and the company look like fools. People get on Tony Khan saying he should have done something, but what could he have done? At that point, he would have been making it an even bigger situation by having the owner and the top star, at odds at a press conference and that is even a worse look.

CM Punk is a guy who is all talk. He talks a big game and has lots of opinions on shit, but thinks he himself is above those opinions and that he can do differently. He is not “bad guy”. He is just a petty, immature, hypocritical, piece of shit.