Tony Khan’s standing among All Elite Wrestling talents appears to be facing challenges. The promotion has become entangled in yet another CM Punk saga, triggered by the two-time AEW World Champion’s remarks directed at Hangman Page after the August 12 AEW Collision episode. Subsequently, it has come to light that Punk’s attempt at humor backfired, prompting the 44-year-old to apologize to Hangman Page through a text message.
This incident, however, has triggered a cascade of issues within All Elite Wrestling. Reports have surfaced indicating that CM Punk has been preventing certain talents from securing bookings on AEW Collision. Among those affected are Christopher Daniels, AEW’s Manager of Talent Relations, and Ryan Nemeth. Some within AEW also suspect Punk’s involvement in relocating Hangman Page’s pre-recorded interview on August 12, although reports suggest he wasn’t directly responsible. Instances like Matt Hardy and Isiah Kassidy being initially booked and then removed from Collision have further fueled the turmoil.
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The turmoil within the promotion has resulted in a sharp drop in morale within the locker room. According to Bryan Alvarez of the Wrestling Observer, the roster is profoundly dissatisfied with Tony Khan’s handling of the entire CM Punk situation. Alvarez reported on Wrestling Observer Live, “This locker room, they are not happy right now.” He noted that while morale was previously worse around the time of Brawl Out, the current situation might be even more dire. Many individuals are frustrated with Tony Khan, questioning his role in allowing these problems to escalate. Talents such as Matt Hardy and Isiah Kassidy, who have positive reputations, are upset over being excluded from shows. Overall, morale is at a low point due to the ongoing turmoil.
“This locker room, they are not happy right now. Dave [Meltzer] I think said that morale was worse around the time of Brawl Out but, you know, this would be the second. I don’t really know about that from talking to people regularly. It might actually be worse now. I mean there’s a lot of people that are just so unhappy with Tony [Khan]. Like, ‘Why is he allowing all of this to happen?’ Guys like Matt Hardy and Isiah Kassidy, like nobody has anything bad to say about these guys, so they’re very upset that they’re told they can’t go to a show or whatever. Morale is in the toilet right now and it’s all because of everything that’s going on,”
Tony Khan finds himself squarely in the center of the turmoil within AEW. This stems partly from his inability to resolve conflicts between CM Punk and The Elite that arose in early 2022 over the decision not to renew Colt Cabana’s contract. Khan’s public responses have proven ineffective, and he recently declined to comment on the issues surrounding CM Punk during a podcast appearance, adding to the frustration.
Moreover, reports indicate that Tony Khan is personally a fervent admirer of CM Punk. This affinity seems to extend to the point where Khan displays fan-like behavior around the 44-year-old wrestler. After Punk’s return promo on June 17, where he took a jab at The Young Bucks, Tony Khan enthusiastically chanted “CM Punk” and pumped his fist as Punk walked by.
Photo Credit: AEW