CM Punk & Colt Cabana: The AEW Story That Won't Die

At the AEW All Out post-show media scrum in September 2022, CM Punk expressed his frustration about still having to deal with questions surrounding Colt Cabana — and he had a point. All the drama and tension that boiled over at what has now become known as "Brawl Out" can be traced back to a simple issue: The belief that Punk had tried to get Cabana, his former friend, fired from AEW, which angered certain individuals backstage.

In a recent ESPN interview, Punk once again disputed this allegation — something both he and AEW CEO Tony Khan have vehemently said isn't true on multiple occasions. Yet, no matter how much time passes, no matter how many denials are provided, this issue re-hashes itself like it's the Gobbledy Gooker at the 1990 Survivor Series. And every time it does, the next round of internal AEW drama dominates the wrestling press more than what's happening on the weekly shows.

"Because it was well known that the Bucks and Chris Jericho went to Khan and were involved in getting Cabana rehired for ROH," Dave Meltzer wrote in this morning's Wrestling Observer Newsletter, "a large percentage of the locker room believed and to this day many claim they know as a fact based on what is known internally that isn't true [that Khan fired Cabana and Punk had nothing to do with it.]" Meltzer called it "a story that still lingers on internally."

Maybe it's time to listen to Punk and let this go once and for all.

What's the truth?

In 1992's "A Few Good Men," Jack Nicholson's Colonel Jessup screams the iconic line: "You can't handle the truth!" And perhaps that's true of the wrestling community at large. The online space is dominated by gossip-mongering and rumor-peddling, which adds a little spice to the interest surrounding this bizarre form of entertainment that so many of us religiously follow. While there's no disputing that "the dirt sheets" and the scoops they report bring an excitement and edge to the various promotions and wrestling characters, there are also actual humans on the other side of this.

The reality is, only Khan knows if Punk asked for Cabana to be fired. To date, he has denied it, and there is no concrete proof otherwise. Of course, everyone else — in the locker room or online — will have formed their own opinions about people and their intentions, but these are simply that: opinions. Pushing opinions as undisputed facts is always a slippery slope and can have detrimental effects on everyone involved.

There's no denying that Punk and Cabana's friendship ended on a sour note, and neither of them have said anything to the contrary. However, it's unfair to all parties to keep digging up their past and forcing them to rehash emotions they may not want to go through again. Phil Brooks and Scott Colton are real people, and their private matters should stay private.

Co-workers don't need to like each other

If a company says something like "We're a family here," run in the opposite direction, because it's a total lie and the place is run by a psychopath. Work colleagues don't need to be besties or glued at the hip. Sure, friendships will be formed and some people will develop stronger bonds than others, but it isn't make-or-break. The same can be said of any wrestling locker room.

Punk and Cabana don't need to eat muffins together and decide to marathon the "Rocky" movies. Each has their own purpose in the company right now. Recently, Cabana even clarified he is contracted to AEW as both a wrestler and producer. In all likelihood, they won't need to collaborate or work together, and that's okay. Each is employed to do a specific job, and they should get on with it. As long as Khan is happy with what each is doing for AEW, and they're adding value to the company, all the whisperers in the shadows need to check the Venn diagram of whose business they should be minding.

The drama isn't helping AEW

For all intents and purposes, this has been a major week of success for the company. "AEW Collision" debuted to great ratings and rave reviews from both fans and critics, "AEW Dynamite" set up fantastic match-ups for Sunday's AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door pay-per-view, and Juice Robinson cut the juiciest of promos. It's cause for celebration, as AEW looks the hottest it has been in a while.

Instead, the Punk-Cabana drama has resurfaced once again, taking away the shine from everything good that's happened. It's frustrating, and it's beginning to sound like a broken record. It's high time that this controversy is put to bed and everyone stops giving it attention. If there's beef between people, they need to sort it out among themselves, because these issues aren't going to be resolved in the court of public opinion or gossip columns. There's a great quote that says, "Gossip dies when it hits a wise person's ears." Perhaps we should all be wiser.