Former All Elite Wrestling World Champion CM Punk is reportedly not expected to return to the company.
During an interview with PWTorch.com, wrestling journalist Wade Keller addressed Punk's status with the company amid a recent alleged physical backstage incident.
Keller said commentator Ian Riccaboni excluding Punk's name from the list of notable former Ring of Honor champions during the ROH title match between Claudio Castagnoli and Chris Jericho on Wednesday (September 21) night's episode of Dynamite wasn't a coincidence.
"I think this is noteworthy but not surprising [that] he excluded CM Punk's name as he talked about some of the biggest names who have held the title," Keller said (h/t WrestlingNews.co). "That's a bit of a tell. As I talked with Jason Powell yesterday about - I am not expecting CM Punk to wrestle in AEW again. I'm not saying it's 100 percent sure thing but everything is pointing in the direction of some sort of buyout of his contract. We'll learn more eventually about that situation."
Earlier this month, Wrestling Observer's Dave Meltzer reported that Punk experienced a "serious" injury while diving outside of the ring during his match against Jon Moxley at All Out on September 4, which took place prior to a controversial media scrum that eventually led to a backstage incident resulting in other individuals involved being suspended on September 7.
"Punk injury, believed to be from the tope, is serious," Meltzer tweeted. "Rumors from Sunday but he hadn't confirmed them but it's been confirmed to me no matter what happens discipline-wise that the title situation has to be changed and addressed tonight."
Punk went on a tirade during his post-All Out media scrum prior to a physical altercation involving himself, his original wrestling trainer Ace Steel -- who served as an AEW backstage producer at the time -- and AEW World Trios Champions The Elite (Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson)), the latter of whom are all in-ring competitors and executive vice presidents responsible for the company's launch.
The list of individuals receiving suspensions in relation to the incident includes the following:
- Kenny Omega
- Matt Jackson
- Nick Jackson
- Ace Steel
- Pat Buck
- Christopher Daniels
- Michael Nakazawa
- Brandon Cutler
Punk and Steel were not included in the initial list of suspensions, but were reported to "either be among those suspended, or will no longer be with the company by the end of Wednesday," according to Barrasso.
DAZN's Steven Muehlhausen later confirmed that Steel was suspended in relation to the incident.
Additionally, sources told Sports Illustrated that an external third-party investigation will be launched in relation to the incident.
Punk had previously experienced a foot injury in May, which caused him to vacate the AEW World Heavyweight championship days after his victory. The 43-year-old returned from injury last month.
During AEW's post-All Out media scrum Sunday, Punk accused "irresponsible people who call themselves EVPs" of "spreading lies" and leaking information that he had falsely gotten Colton "fired," while also referring to former AEW Champion 'Hangman' Adam Page, a longtime friend of the Elite and Colton who had reportedly already left the building at the time, as "an empty headed f*****g dumb f***" for going "out on national television and f*****g go into business for himself" during a promo opposite Punk ahead of their title match at Double or Nothing in May.
Fightful said "it was confirmed" that Steel bit Omega and Punk threw punches, as well as a chair in the direction of the Young Bucks, which hit Nick Jackson in the eye during the backstage altercation on Sunday.
Fightful also claimed it received varying recounts of the situation from AEW talent with "several" saying they don't know how Punk couldn't be let go for the incident, while others reportedly believe that Omega and the Young Bucks aggressively approached him as part of what could have been presumed as a 3-on-1 attack.
The incident is reported to have lasted "about six minutes" before officials intervened in an effort to diffuse the situation.
The Hoffman Estates Police Department also confirmed it never received a report of the incident backstage at All Out, which took place at the NOW Arena.
Additionally, Sapp clarified that Fightful had heard reports of Punk possibly experiencing a torn pectoral during the backstage incident but couldn't confirm the injury.
Punk defeated Jon Moxley during All Out's main event before a returning Maxwell Jacob Friedman revealed himself to be the disguised 'Joker' entrant in a ladder match won earlier in the night to earn a title shot, teasing another feud with Punk as the show went off-air.
AEW then announced a tournament to decide the new World Heavyweight Champion the following night, which was won by Moxley on Wednesday's episode of Dynamite.