CM Punk's AEW debut will likely be remembered as one of the greatest returns in pro wrestling history.
Unfortunately, injuries often plagued the Best in the World, and a backstage altercation at All Out - later dubbed "Brawl Out" - involving Punk and Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks (largely instigated by "Hangman" Adam Page's in-ring conduct) created a divide within the company.
Upon Punk's latest return, he was largely kept separate from The Elite by spearheading the Saturday night show AEW Colission. There, the "Real" AEW World Champion has proven to be a ratings draw and AEW's top merchandise seller.
Problems have remained, however, something that was evident from Jack Perry - another friend of The Elite's - deciding to follow in the Hangman's footsteps by taking shots at Punk on air.
That resulted in some sort of fight backstage at All In in London's Wembley Stadium, though we've heard conflicting reports about who was the aggressor and what actually happened. AEW, however, has sided with Perry and decided to fire Punk with immediate effect.
Here's the statement from AEW and company President Tony Khan:
All Elite Wrestling (AEW) has terminated the wrestler and employment agreements between Phillip Brooks (CM Punk) and AEW with cause, effective immediately. The termination was confirmed today by Tony Khan, CEO, General Manager and Head of Creative of AEW.
The termination follows a weeklong internal investigation of an incident occurring back stage at AEW — All In London on Sunday, August 27. Following the investigation, the AEW Discipline Committee met and later convened with outside legal counsel before making a unanimous recommendation to Khan that CM Punk be terminated with cause.
Khan offered the following statement:
"Phil played an important role within AEW and I thank him for his contributions. The termination of his AEW contracts with cause is ultimately my decision, and mine alone. Of course, I wish I didn't have to share this news, which may come as a disappointment to many of our fans."
"Nevertheless, I am making the decision in the best interests of the many amazing people who make AEW possible every week — our talent, staff, venue operators and many others whose efforts are unsung but essential to bringing our fans great shows on television and at arenas and stadiums throughout the world."
Something tells us this isn't the end of the story and we're sure Punk will choose to eventually speak out. He never seemed like a good fit for AEW and clearly wasn't wanted there by wrestlers who were insecure about their own spots in the company.
We'll see what happens next, but AEW's loss may be WWE's gain...