Bad luck has postponed the Summer of Punk 3.0.
CM Punk announced on Rampage Friday night that he’s injured, a couple of things are broken, and he needs surgery. While Punk will be out for an undetermined time, he will remain AEW World Champion.
Later on, Excalibur announced that a battle royal will open Dynamite on Wednesday, where the winner will face #1 contender Jon Moxley in the main event. The winner of that match will face an unnamed opponent for the interim AEW World Championship on June 26 at Forbidden Door.
AEW sent out a press release on Saturday revealing the unnamed opponent will be determined on June 12 when Hiroshi Tanahashi faces Hirooki Goto at NJPW Dominion in what is officially called the AEW Interim World Championship Eliminator Series.
It’s not unprecedented for a wrestling promotion to keep the title on an injured champion. Tony Khan touted Punk’s importance to the company at the post Double or Nothing media scrum, citing, “No one has meant more to AEW’s bottom line than CM Punk.”
Punk’s injury explains why the company never officially announced Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. CM Punk for Forbidden Door when the New Japan ace answered Punk’s challenge last Wednesday on Dynamite.
Unfortunately, AEW heavily botched the announcement. Punk’s promo led many to assume he had relinquished the championship even though he never mentioned it. However, Chris Jericho, on commentary, quickly stated that Punk had relinquished the championship as the show went to commercial.
Jericho was so rushed that he could even finish the word “championship” before they went to black. When Rampage returned from the commercial break, Jericho firmly stated that CM Punk was no longer the AEW World Champion.
Fans on social media were scouring for answers amidst the confusion. Various wrestling news outlets released conflicting information. Some said Punk was still champion, while others said Punk had been stripped of the title.
Three minutes before Rampage ended, Excalibur clarified that CM Punk was still the AEW Champion and announced the battle royal for Dynamite. It was a disservice to the Scorpio Sky vs. Dante Martin main event as viewers were more concerned with trying to find out whether Punk was still champion or not.
AEW naming Jon Moxley as the #1 contender was also a trainwreck. Wardlow was the number one contender at the time of the announcement, while Moxley was ranked #4. Once fans pointed it out on social media, AEW changed the rankings to reflect Wardlow ranked #2.
Wardlow never should have been ranked. He worked for MJF until Sunday and was hired by AEW after beating MJF at Double or Nothing. In storyline, he never worked for AEW.
AEW advertised the announcement less than a half-hour before Rampage, which is atypical for any wrestling promotion. Either AEW learned of Punk’s injury late in the game, or they didn’t decide what to do until the last possible moment.
New Japan might have caused another wrinkle in the plan as they didn’t announce the full lineup for Dominion until 4:00 AM EST. Either AEW was trying to prevent spoiling the card, or perhaps they didn’t know how New Japan would play it.
It’s unfortunate that CM Punk’s injury comes just days after winning the title. Hopefully, he will be able to heal up for a future showdown with whoever holds the AEW Interim World Title when he’s ready to yell, “IT’S CLOBBERING TIME!”