The CM Punk era has ended at All Elite Wrestling.
AEW announced on Saturday that the 44-year-old professional wrestler has been fired “with cause” 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 another wrestler, Jack Perry — son of late actor Luke Perry — had an altercation following Perry’s preshow match against Hook. Both men were suspended, according to Sports Illustrated.
“The incident was regrettable and it endangered people backstage,” AEW co-founder and president Tony Khan said in a video released on X, formerly known as Twitter. “That includes the production staff, the people who help the show on 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 nearly four years. Never in all that time have I felt until last Sunday that my security, my safety, my life was in danger at a wrestling show. I don’t think anybody should feel that way 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 unceremoniously ends his two-year run in AEW — one that began with immense fervor among fans and filled with highs, lows and behind-the-scenes drama. Punk had controversially left World Wrestling Entertainment in 2014 and effectively retired from the squared circle for more than seven years. The video of his debut on the Aug. 20, 2021, episode of “Rampage” has nearly 17 million views on YouTube.
His AEW run was a mixed bag — two world champion title runs but zero defenses due to injuries. He won the world title from “Hangman” Adam Page in May 2022 at Double or Nothing, but five days later he had to step away from the ring after suffering a foot injury. He returned to the ring on Aug. 28, losing his belt to interim champion Jon Moxley, only to win it back less than two weeks later at All Out. Following the event, he was involved in an altercation involving AEW executive vice presidents and pro wrestlers Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson after he had made critical comments about them and several others in the post-event media scrum. Khan soon after announced that Punk’s title was vacated.
After a nine-month absence, Punk returned to AEW where he was a fixture on “Collision.” Since he never actually his title, he defended a belt with a spray-painted “X” on it and called himself the “real world champion.”