CM Punk and AEW President Tony Khan participated in the AEW Rampage: The First Dance media scrum after the show concluded. With Punk now officially all elite, the world is his oyster.
While the Best in the World’s primary concern in AEW will be his match against Darby Allin, fans are already wondering if Punk has plans to enter the forbidden door, wrestle on AEW Dark, or even work commentary.
“Did you just shake your head? (laughs),” Punk asked Khan after a reporter brought up the commentary possibilities.
“I was like, you haven’t even had your match yet!” Tony replied.
The announce table isn’t on Punk’s list of priorities, and neither is working AEW’s YouTube programs.
“I’m pretty sure I’m going to be a television guy,” Punk said. “I haven’t seen Dark or Elevation. Me and a couple of my friends were talking about this earlier. I’m not a technology guy. I’m obviously an old head now. When kids are like, ‘Oh, YouTube!’ I regrettably don’t know anything. I still watch DVDs. It’s a different generation now. I’m Terry Funk now. I’m sure now that I’m here and we got this first one out of the way, yeah, I’m going to watch everything, but I hadn’t thus far. That doesn’t mean I won’t do it [eventually].”
Fans have been waiting seven years to see the former WWE Champion return, and Punk himself had been sewing the seeds for the past 18 months to make his AEW debut happen.
Tony Khan mentioned that himself and Punk chatted constantly since shortly after AEW Dynamite premiered.
“We stayed in touch, and I really enjoy talking to him. He had clearly watched some Dynamites and we had some conversations about them,” Khan said. “I really wanted you (CM Punk) to come back and wrestle so badly. Desperately.”
The AEW President teased that this might’ve happened a lot sooner, but they needed to wait until capacity crowds were back on the regular.
“I think it didn’t really make any sense to do it when there were no fans. I’d like to think we navigated the pandemic as well as we could’ve,” Khan continued. “Again, that was nothing anybody could have ever planned for, but it definitely gave [myself and Punk] a lot of time to talk because there was no rush to do anything because the fans were not coming back anytime soon. I think that it was worth the wait. It was definitely worth the wait.”
Khan revealed himself and Punk collaborated on making AEW Rampage: The First Dance happen, and it was a “happy accident” that the venue was even available on August 20.
“It had to be the right circumstances, but honestly this whole thing he had so many brilliant ideas in the run up to this, including coming here to the United Center,” Khan said. “When we talk about happy accidents, another one was the building was available on a Friday night and we were able to get it. All these things lined up perfectly. The opponent [Darby Allin], to find somebody who’s so red-hot to match up against somebody who the idea, you know, CM Punk coming back and wrestling is the hottest thing that’s happened to the wrestling business in many, many, many years. The excitement we felt in the building was so real. And yeah, I really enjoy talking to him. I didn’t feel anything forced. I think it felt like something we both really wanted to do, and it’s been really fun working on it. It’s just the culmination of the most exciting, most anticipated thing we’ve ever done.
“There hasn’t been wrestling in the United Center in a long time, and it was CM Punk’s idea to bring it back to the United Center, and it was a great idea,” Khan continued. “Arthur Ashe was something I stumbled onto, truly, a couple years ago. When I was looking for a venue that nobody had run, when I was looking for stadiums with a roof where we could put on a special show, it had been under our nose the whole time. I couldn’t believe nobody had done that. It’s going to be a really special night. I think there’s going to be a good chance CM Punk is going to be a big part of it. It would be a great return for one of the all-time wrestling greats in one of the all-time great wrestling cities, to do it in a venue where nobody’s ever wrestled before.”
As mentioned, The First Dance was a dual effort from Khan and Punk, but the two had different “instincts” going in.
“I think his instincts were really, really good about it. We wanted to have a big surprise moment, and I think my instincts were that we wanted to sell out the building (laughs),” Khan said. “We wanted to also have everybody know what was coming. We kind of sat together and it came together perfectly. It was exactly what both of us wanted which was the surprise, but everybody knew what was coming. We created an international, world wide buzz. The buzz just around the city of Chicago today was palpable. You could feel it everywhere, everywhere wrestling’s watched. You could feel people cared about this.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit AEW with an h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.