Former WWE Champ CM Punk Fired From AEW, Owner Tony Khan Says He Felt ‘My Life Was in Danger’ (Updated)

Controversial pro wrestler CM Punk (real name Phillip Brooks) has been fired by All Elite Wrestling following a backstage altercation last weekend at their biggest show of all time, “All In” at London’s Wembley Stadium. The promotion addressed the decision both in a statement released Saturday afternoon and in the opening of “AEW Collision” on Saturday evening, where AEW promoter Tony Khan gave a more in-depth and personal explanation of the decision.

Khan opened “Collision,” telling viewers, “Today I had to make one of the toughest decisions of my professional career: today I terminated Phil Brooks, CM Punk, for cause. This stems from a backstage incident at ‘AEW All In’ last Sunday. The incident was regrettable, and it endangered people backstage. That includes the production staff, the people who help put the show on every week, innocent people who had nothing to do with it.”

The promoter went on to talk about how he’d personally been affected by what happened which, according to media reports, was a physical altercation between Punk and wrestler Jack Perry (son of the late actor Luke Perry). Khan was also reportedly near where it happened.

“I’d been going to wrestling shows for over 30 years. I’d been producing them on this network for over four years,” Khan said. “Never, in all that time, have I ever 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.”

Khan went on to say the firing was unanimously recommended by both a discipline committee and outside legal counsel.

“And I have followed up on that recommendation. I’m sorry to any fans who are upset by this, I’m sorry to anyone that’s upset by this,” Khan said.

In a statement from the company and Khan released earlier Saturday afternoon, it stated that AEW has terminated its contracts with CM Punk “with cause, effective immediately.”

“The termination follows a weeklong internal investigation of an incident occurring back stage at AEW — All In London on Sunday, August 27,” the statement continued.

“Phil played an important role within AEW and I thank him for his contributions,” Khan said in his own afternoon statement. “The termination of his AEW contracts with cause is ultimately my decision, and mine alone.”

It also isn’t the first incident involving Punk, as the Wrestling Observer and other outlets have reported on ongoing tensions between Punk and other wrestlers behind the scenes. The most notable was a backstage brawl at last year’s “All Out” show following inflammatory comments by Punk at a live press conference about other AEW wrestlers, which led to a backstage confrontation with tag team the Young Bucks that ended in suspensions for Punk, the Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, and others.

You can watch that 2022 press conference here:

At this year’s “All In,” according to reports, Punk threatened not to wrestle following the incident and had yelled directly at Tony Khan “I quit.” The incident took place backstage shortly before the show’s main card, following Perry’s match, which included him making a comment to camera referencing his own personal issues with Punk. Punk did end up wrestling in his scheduled match.

Khan’s statement continues, “Of course, I wish I didn’t have to share this news, which may come as a disappointment to many of our fans. Nevertheless, I am making the decision in the best interests of the many amazing people who make AEW possible every week — our talent, staff, venue operators and many others whose efforts are unsung but essential to bringing our fans great shows on television and at arenas and stadiums throughout the world.”

Punk’s future is uncertain, as he has a complicated history with AEW’s top rival and the market leader, WWE, including a lawsuit against one of WWE’s doctors that Punk won. It also comes before AEW’s Labor Day weekend pay-per-view “All Out” on Sunday, as well as on the same day as rival WWE’s “Payback” special event. “All Out” is taking place in Chicago, Punk’s hometown, where he was expected to be a major part of the show and potentially in the main event.

This also brings into question the future of AEW TV programming. AEW launched a two-hour weekly Saturday evening show, “AEW Collision,” on Warner Bros. Discovery’s TNT network, with Punk widely promoted as their top star. Punk and wrestlers he had conflicts with were each assigned to different shows, with the Young Bucks among those who would only appear on Wednesday’s weekly “AEW Dynamite.”

Punk has also acted outside of professional wrestling, including as a recurring character on the Starz network show about a local family-run wrestling company, “Heels.”

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