After a lackluster World Title run from Adam Page, I think CM Punk could be the perfect solution as AEW World Champion.
I have really enjoyed the return of CM Punk to pro wrestling and it has elevated AEW in many ways. He has come across as totally unselfish. He’s also been completely willing to have matches and programs with younger talent. Now, he seems primed to become AEW World Champion.
His feud with MJF was fantastic, as I mentioned in my column last week. For the most part, CM Punk has been great in every AEW role that he’s been in. He still has the passion and fire that made him a household name in the WWE. Punk obviously continues to be over with fans. Yes, he’s older but he doesn’t look like he’s lost a step.
When CM Punk and Bryan Danielson both came into the company last Fall, I thought that it would be a game changer. That term is thrown around a lot nowadays but the momentum of AEW changed dramatically at the end of 2021 because of their signings. It was two former WWE World Champions and the timing of their debuts was perfect.
The live crowds during that time were awesome and there was extra passion in the arenas due to the previous pandemic restrictions. The audiences are still good now but there were a couple months there in late 2021 where they were getting spectacular crowds. The renewed energy around AEW was palpable.
While the viewership/ratings for the AEW shows have regressed a bit (and the excitement level dropped) it isn’t because of CM Punk. In my opinion, the slide downward in buzz is because Tony Khan has real issues with his booking and consistency. Khan’s decisions are mind-boggling at times and they seemingly only make sense to him.
Bryan Danielson is a perfect example. Before the Blackpool Combat Club was formed, Danielson was doing some tremendous heel work. He was really on his game both in-ring and during his promos as a heel. Now, he’s in this group led by William Regal and teaming with Moxley and Yuta. I don’t understand why you would stop pushing Danielson as a main event heel when it was going so well.
That’s just one sample of fumbling the ball by Tony. Wrestlers come and go with no explanation. Unnecessary gimmick and hardcore matches saturate their shows. The misuse and underutilization of his performers is rampant. The overall direction of AEW is unclear.
Double or Nothing
At least Tony Khan hasn’t messed up CM Punk’s run… so far. Does he trust Punk to be World Champion? We’ll find out on May 29th in Las Vegas at the Double or Nothing Pay-Per-View. My gut feeling is that Punk gets the job done and dethrones Hangman and his cowboy shit.
It’s fitting that Punk’s first AEW World Title match is in Vegas. If you remember, his infamous “Pipe Bomb” WWE promo took place in Sin City. So combine the nostalgia of that being one of CM Punk’s all-time best career moments with Adam Page’s forgettable and unremarkable reign. To me, that adds up to Punk becoming AEW World Champion and solidifying his spot as the centerpiece of the company.
Punk as AEW World Champ
So let’s say that Punk is the new AEW World Champion. Who would he feud with? AEW seems to be big on title rematches but I don’t see Adam Page winning it back right away because that would be asinine. Page is a good wrestler and would be more fitting as TNT Champion but it’s obvious now that he wasn’t ready to be World Champ. Also, Page’s booking was not conducive to him having a great title run so it was somewhat doomed from the get go.
Should Punk turn heel? It might not be a bad idea because up until now he’s shown the most warm and fuzzy side of himself that I ever thought was possible. His promos have been nice but I think there’s potential for some fantastic promos if he turned on the AEW faithful. He could go “scorched earth” and get massive heel heat with that fan base.
If he fully turned heel, an attractive feud could happen with Bryan Danielson. Those potential matches would be awesome and they could also have some great promos back and forth. Punk could revisit the brief program that he had with Darby Allin. At the time when he debuted, it didn’t make as much sense because it was babyface Vs babyface. It would take on a different feel though if a heel version of Punk went after Darby.
The momentum that Wardlow has right now is really impressive. Yes, he’s busy with MJF at the moment. Let’s say though, that Wardlow defeats MJF and keeps gaining popularity in a ”Goldberg” type of way. A program with Punk could elevate Wardlow into being even more of a phenomenon. Maybe a babyface version of Kenny Omega could return and try to save AEW from Punk?
Lots of possibilities here but I think the best option is Punk as a ruthless and edgy bad guy champion. I’m not sure if it would help to improve the AEW viewership/ratings but it has to be a better direction than what’s happening now with Adam Page. It’s worth it to let Punk have a memorable World Title run. Perhaps it could spark some interest from casual fans again to see him being an unapologetic dick?
Let me know what you think in the comment section below or join the conversation in our General Discussion.