Home Video footage shows why Tony Khan fired CM Punk: But does it help AEW’s bottom line?
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Video footage shows why Tony Khan fired CM Punk: But does it help AEW’s bottom line?

Chris Graham
cm punk aew all in
Screenshot: Twitter

The first, say, six or seven times I watched the video footage of the backstage incident at “All In” on tonight’s AEW “Dynamite,” I have to admit, I thought Tony Khan was out of his damn mind.

What you saw on the one screening on the live show was CM Punk and Jack Perry talking, no sound, because it was security-cam video, then Punk throwing a quick punch at Perry, grabbing Perry in a front facelock, and the two quickly being pulled apart by a group including Samoa Joe, who was about to open the “All In” main show with Punk in a singles match, and producer Chris Hero.

Things started to make sense for me when it became clear upon multiple views that the confrontation was happening literally in front of a table with four TV monitors, which, when you watch the video, you see being rattled as Punk and Perry grapple with each other, and that the person at the far left who reached over the table to try to break up the fight was Khan.

Khan was also the one trying to keep the TV monitors that he and his circle were using to call the show, which would seem important.

You see that in the video, and then you see Punk lunge at Khan, to the point of getting behind the table for maybe a second, before Hero helps escort him away from the scene.

OK, so, point proven.

I’m giving Khan that point.

Now, here’s where I’ll criticize: whoever is in charge of the TV side of things for Khan needed to do some things with the video presentation, maybe adding telestrator-like graphics to make it clear, hey, they’re fighting right in front of gorilla, that’s Tony Khan right there.

Maybe a zoom-in effect could have been added.

I shouldn’t have to watch the video probably 20 times to figure out what I was watching.

Because by leaving it to interpretation, Khan and AEW have been getting skewered on social media.

If you don’t know that what you saw was happening literally a couple of feet from where Khan was trying to run the show, and that when Punk lunged after being pulled apart from Perry, he was lunging at Khan, you’re left to think, WTF, this is what Tony Khan said had him fearing for his life?

That all said, I can see it now.

But that I can see what Khan was saying, and why he decided to fire Punk after the show, doesn’t take away the criticism that Khan has had coming his way since it was made public on “Collision” over the weekend that AEW was going to air the backstage video.

The effort on Wednesday was to try to spin showing the video as being part of the angle between The Young Bucks and FTR ahead of their tag-title match at the “Dynasty” pay-per-view on April 21, playing off the fact that Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler are real-life good friends with Punk, though you have to wonder what Punk is thinking about that friendship now, with his buddies having had to sign off on using the video footage from last August as part of a storyline.

I guess we’ll see tomorrow, when the overnight ratings hit the presses, if Khan’s gamble will prove to have been worth it.

And even if he gets a ratings bump, can he carry it forward to next week and then to the pay-per-view, or is it just another incidence of the hotshot booking that has not worked to this point, five years into AEW’s brief history, to build a steady audience for the weekly product?

I mean, I guess, at least the video footage delivered what Khan promised it would; Punk was in the wrong, and no matter who you are, how big a star you are, you go at the boss the way he did, you should lose your job.

How us knowing that now helps AEW get more people to watch the weekly product is something I can’t get my head around.

And that’s why, if this night ends up being called a victory for AEW, it’s what you’d have to call a pyrrhic victory.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].