CM Punk will challenge Hangman Page for the AEW World Championship at Double or Nothing on Saturday, May 29, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The match was announced last night on Dynamite while CM Punk was doing commentary for the Dax Harwood/Cash Wheeler match.
The match was teased last week when Punk had a surprise staredown with Page after his match with Dustin Rhodes. Double or Nothing will be Punk’s first shot at the AEW crown, which Page has held since he defeated Kenny Omega at Full Gear last November.
Punk addressed the audience last night and said he will not guarantee a win against Page but that every match he’s had in AEW, from Darby to Dustin, has been warning up to this and promised he’d “fight until the wheels fall off.”
The reaction to the match announcement has been interesting to take in and examine. Hangman is the champion and one of the top performers in the game today, but Punk’s participation is getting all the front and center press above everything else.
Even the notion of two great wrestlers headlining one of AEW’s marquee events in a first-time dream match scenario has been buried in the sand. Are fans bursting with excitement over the idea of Punk as AEW World Champion, or has Hangman’s reign in the top spot fallen short of expectations.
Perhaps, the answer is as simple as CM Punk’s popularity is such that everything he does generates a certain buzz that most in the industry can’t touch. For all of the criticism that can be lobbied toward Hangman’s run as champion, the universal truth is he deserves none of the blame.
One could fault lousy booking, but in reality, the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of Chicago’s favorite son. Page was the top babyface until Punk’s arrival.
Through all of the storylines, matches, and shows Tony Khan is producing, one narrative thread has been evident since The First Dance. AEW is CM Punk country (except for Long Island), and it doesn’t matter where or what position he lands on the card.
AEW has a great opportunity come May 29th. Will they ride the wave of Punk as he becomes AEW World Champion, or will they take the next step of Hangman Page becoming a made man? Omega made Page a main event player. Punk can make him a superstar.