The CM Punk era is over in All Elite Wrestling.
AEW announced on Saturday that the 44-year-old professional wrestler had been licensed “with reason” following a backstage incident during the promotion’s All In show last Sunday at Wembley Stadium in London.
The announcement was made ahead of Saturday’s “Collision” show and Sunday’s “All Out” pay-per-view – both taking place at the United Center in Chicago, Punk’s hometown.
According to multiple reports, Punk – whose real name is Phil Brooks – and fellow wrestler Jack Perry – son of the late actor Luke Perry – got into an altercation after Perry’s pre-show match against Hook. Both men have been suspended, according to Sports Illustrated.
“The incident was regrettable and it put people at risk behind the scenes,” said Tony Khan, co-founder and president of AEW. video released on X, formerly known as Twitter. “That includes the production team, the people who help the show every week, innocent people who had nothing to do with it.
“I’ve been going to wrestling shows for over 30 years, I’ve been producing them on this network for almost four years. Never in all this time, until last Sunday, did I feel that my safety, my safety, my life was in danger at a wrestling show. I don’t think anyone should feel that at work. I don’t think the people I work with should feel that way. I had to make a difficult choice today.
— AEW on TV (@AEWonTV) September 3, 2023
For Punk, this brings a harsh end to his two-year AEW career – a period that began with immense fervor among fans and filled with highs, lows, and behind-the-scenes drama. Punk controversially left World Wrestling Entertainment in 2014 and effectively retired from the squared circle for over seven years. The video of his debut in the August 20, 2021 episode “Rampage” has nearly 17 million views on YouTube.
His AEW run was mixed – two runs for the World Championship title but no defense due to injury. He won the world title from ‘Hanged Man’ Adam Page in May 2022 at Double or Nothing, but five days later had to walk away from the ring after injuring his foot. He returned to the ring on August 28, losing his belt to interim champion Jon Moxley, only to regain it less than two weeks later at All Out. After the event, he was embroiled in an altercation involving AEW Executive Vice Presidents and professional wrestlers Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson after he made critical comments about them and several others during the post-event media scrum. Khan announced shortly after that Punk’s title was vacated.
After a nine-month absence, Punk returned to AEW where he was a staple on “Collision.” Since he never actually won his title, he defended a belt with a spray-painted “X” on it and called himself a “true world champion”.