Self-proclaimed ‘Best in the World’ professional wrestler CM Punk has been fired from All Elite Wrestling following a backstage incident at All-In London.
AEW CEO and general manager Tony Khan announced on Saturday (2 September) that Punk, known outside of the ring as Phil Brooks, was terminated from the company with immediate effect.
“Phil played an important role within AEW and I thank him for his contributions,” Khan said in a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter. “The termination of his AEW contracts with cause is ultimately my decision, and mine alone.
“Of course, I wish I didn’t have to share this news, which may come as a disappointment to many of our fans.”
An internal investigation was launched by the wrestling promotion after Punk was allegedly embroiled in a confrontation with ‘Jungle Boy’ Jack Perry just moments before his match against Samoa Joe for the 27 August Pay-Per-View.
Reports suggest that, as he was walking to the stage for his match, Punk allegedly confronted Perry and asked if he had a problem. Allegations also suggest that Punk then put Perry into a face lock and punches were thrown.
Both stars were escorted out of Wembley Stadium following their matches, with Brooks being taken to his dressing room by security.
Khan added that AEW had made the decision after a discipline committee met following the investigation, with unanimous recommendation made to terminate Brooks’ contract with cause.
“I am making the decision in the best interests of the many amazing people who make AEW possible every week,” Khan continued in his statement.
“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.”
CM Punk stands in solidarity with trans rights at AEW All-In London
Prior to leaving the stadium following his ‘Real World Champion’ win against Samoa Joe, Punk took the opportunity to stand next to a fan holding a placard that read: “Oi Rishi! Trans rights are human rights.”
The sign appeared to call out British prime minister Rishi Sunak who has been criticised for his remarks about trans people in the past.
Activists, allies and the LGBTQ+ community collectively commended the moment, with commentator Jim Ross saying: “That’s what we like to see.”
“CM Punk got [80,000] people in Wembley to cheer for trans rights, I don’t care if he’s rough around the edges I love him,” one social media user wrote.
“CM Punk gets a massive W for this. Would love to see more wrestlers very publicly advocate for trans rights.”
Punk has made a number of pro-LGBTQ+ comments during AEW shows in the past, including during his return in June 2023 to hold up a sign he grabbed from a fan calling to “protect LGBTQ+ youth.”
During his return, he said: “The reason I support trans kids trans, grownups, gay, straight, lesbian, whoever is because I know when I was growing up, I didn’t fit in anywhere.”
CM Punk showed his support for trans people in another iconic moment. (AEW All In London)
CM Punk made his debut with AEW on 20 August 2021 during AEW Rampage’s The First Dance. His time at the promotion – while popular – was somewhat chaotic.
Punk was suspended briefly from the promotion after he accused wrestlers Kenny Omega and Matt and Nick Jackson of The Young Bucks of spreading rumours that he had gotten Colt Cabana fired from AEW. The accusations led to an altercation, in which all involved received suspensions.
During that time, rumours circulated that Punk was planning to return to rival promotion WWE, which he had been terminated from following a dispute with senior officials.
When asked about the rumours, WWE wrestler Seth Rollins told Punk to “stay away” and called him a “cancer” on the wrestling business.
“He’s a jerk,” Rollins said. “They figured it out over there [AEW] we knew it over here [WWE].”
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