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TONY KHAN’S “INVESTIGATION” WAS A COMPLETE AND TOTAL JOKE AND, SADLY, IS THE PERFECT REPRESENTATION OF THE WAY THAT HE RUNS AEW

By Dave Scherer on 2022-11-06 10:00:00

This is my Q and A for Sunday but since it’s a slow Friday, I figured I would make it live today since it’s pretty topical.

You can send us questions for the PWInsider.com Q and A at pwinsider@gmail.com.

In a satirical movie about my native Hungary's darkest communist era, there is a scene where a trial witness gets his prepared testimony speech and famously proclaims: "But comrade, this is the verdict!" Is it just me, or am I getting the same vibes about the investigation into the Punk-Elite scandal, that it was biased at best, and a farce at worst? Not interviewing key witnesses, destroying evidence and AEW-friendly media outlets writing hit pieces on Punk, saying he was "cancer" and acted like a "psycho" make me believe he was set up to be scapegoated from the start. By no means do I think he is innocent, but AEW is not fixing its problems, because Punk being "cancer" wasn't the core issue here, he was REACTING - rather unprofessionally - to a pre-existing issue in the backstage culture of AEW, which is seemingly left untouched after all this. What is your take on the matter? Also, I want to sincerely thank PWInsider for its unbiased and reliable reporting style, a rarity these days in your profession!

You just stated my take perfectly but I will expand a bit to each of your right-on-the-money points.

The “investigation”.  

If Tony Khan would have only been transparent and shared with the media the details of the investigation, we wouldn’t have to piece together what happened.  For a man who loves doing two hour media scrums after five hour PPVs where he can say how great everything in AEW is, he has no interest in sharing the details real reporters and their readers/listeners want to know (and just watch his painful interview with Ariel Helwani if you doubt that).  Since Tony won’t share any facts, all we can do it surmise things we know to be true as well as add in what has been “reported”, so here goes.

From what I have heard and seen, the “investigation was a farce.  Even if we ignore that it took two months for the crack team of sleuths to figure out what happened in a five minute incident, any legitimate investigator would interview every single witness.  They wouldn’t cherry pick the people who will give the company (in this case Tony Khan) the finding that they are looking for, especially when it involved officers in the company, as three of those under investigation were Executive Vice Presidents.  Clearly, talking to Ace Steel’s wife about what went on would have most probably contradicted the outcome that Tony Khan seemingly wanted, so according to reports she was ignored.  Why?  Unless she and her husband were paid a sum of money for their silence, it seems pretty clear that her story would have not allowed the EVPs to come out looking like the victims, which no fair person could ever say that they were since they barged into Punk’s locker room uninvited.  You can make a case that Punk was more wrong if he threw the first punch, but the Jackson boys were also wrong for going in there in the first place, especially when you consider that they officers in the company (which I know a lot of the AEW friendly media doesn’t seem to understand, or chooses to ignore to fit their slanted narrative).

The irony is that while Khan was sitting next to CM Punk at the scrum, shaking his head in agreement to most of the things Punk said like a marionette puppet and even flat out repeating what he told Forbes, that he himself was wrong for not publicly correcting the false “story” that Punk held back Colt Cabana sooner, he gave the appearance that he supported Punk, all while his star was unprofessionally eviscerating his company.  He never contradicted him or made any attempt to stop him at the scrum.  I guess after the fact, he did a 180.  Maybe Chris Jericho and the EVPs got in his ear, as we are now suddenly hearing “stories” from AEW friendly outlets that Punk was a locker room cancer and Jericho put on his Superman suit and gave Phil Brooks a stern talking to after the altercation!  Of course, for the first two months after the incident Jericho’s supposed leadership and heroism was never mentioned.  It very well may be untrue but hell, so was the planted “Punk got Colt pushed off of TV” story and look at all of the damage that one caused AEW.  This one could do just as much damage as Khan seems to have chosen an almost 52 year old Chris Jericho and the EVPs, those with the distinction of losing hundreds of thousands of viewers from the start of Dynamite until their segments (Kenny’s return and the Trios tournament storyline) aired at the end of shows.  But again, if the goal was to find the EVPs innocent and Punk guilty, mission accomplished.

The cause of his actions at the scrum.  

The question of why Punk acted as he did is pretty clear, Tony Khan lets the inmates run the asylum.  Hangman Punk goes off script and shoots on Punk on promo.  Punk then shoots back.  It was a perfect time to tell the wrestlers to knock that stuff off.  He didn’t.  “Someone” plants a lie to AEW friendly outlets that Punk forced Colt Cabana off TV.  They run with it, even though Cabana was hardly on TV anyway and when he was it was in a comedy group.  It first the apologists’ narrative since they like the EVPs and hate Punk, so they run with it.  What does Tony do?  Nothing, he lets it fester and then much later admits he was wrong.  Brilliant!  What led Punk to blow up?  These events and many more.  When he said he worked with children, I think he nailed it.

Now, Punk is seemingly being forced out of the company for, I guess, starting a fight.  That isn’t allowed in AEW!  Well, unless Sammy Guevara attacks Andrade on Twitter and then Andrade hits him at TV.  I guess if you invite Tony to your wedding, you can get away with stuff like that.  Too bad for Punk he is already happily married.

How he acted in the locker room post scrum.  

I love the AEW friendly narrative that it was all Punk’s fault because he allegedly threw the first punch.  I don’t know about you, but if I just called out three pro wrestlers and said if you had a problem with it, come see me, and then they angrily burst into my locker room uninvited, I would think they were to get a piece of me.  I sure wouldn’t let that happen.  I would go down swinging too.  If you don’t want me to hit you, don’t burst into my locker room uninvited.  Add in the fact that these guys are also officers in the company, they were arguably more wrong than Punk because they should realize that by doing what they did, they give Punk cause to sue the company.  No one was right here.  They shouldn’t have burst in, and Punk shouldn’t have hit them.  If they come back, he should come back and if Tony chooses them over Punk, Khan should be paying him a sizable chunk of the Khan fortune to not wrestle for AEW.  And, I believe he will because Punk has all of the leverage here.

The pettiness of AEW and how it just may cost them big time.

So on Dynamite this week, Colt Cabana was on TV against Jericho.  At least one AEW apologist said that “proved” all along that Punk kept Cabana off TV!  Good Lord, to be that clueless.  I won’t get into how wrong that person was today, but the fact of the matter is that Cabana appearing on TV was an FU to Punk.  It can’t be seen any other way by a sane person.  Was it Jericho’s idea?  Was it Khan’s?  If I had to guess, I would say Jericho suggested it and the head booker went with it.  It doesn’t matter in the end because it was a “firing him on his wedding day” kind of thing to do.  So unless hell freezes over, it looks like Punk is done with AEW.

Maybe the reason Khan sat at the scrum apparently agreeing with Punk, and certainly not shutting him down in any way, was due to the fact that he knew Punk was the company’s biggest draw.  After all, he had made that extremely clear to reporters earlier in the evening.  In the moment, maybe he was thinking like a businessman and let his top star vent about true issues that he himself had caused.  Maybe, despite Punk’s unprofessional way of delivering the message, he also heard the truth that Punk was speaking and realized it was time to get the backstage environment under control, you know like WWE.  Then, maybe once he got away from straight shooting Punk and back among the more savvy wrestlers who know how to push all of the buttons that Khan loves to have pushed, he changed his mind.  Or, maybe he just likes owning a wrestling company and being a booker, which he can do with his family fortune.  

We would know more if Khan would be transparent and actually tell us but he doesn’t seem to want to do that, which is ironic given that he has always been in inside information smart fan and yet when he gets starts his own company he does interviews, like on Busted Open, where he often speaks like his company is not predetermined entertainment.  When he started he said he wanted to give fans an alternative to WWE.  At first, it was a good one.  Now it’s Dixie Carter-Vince Russo TNA.

So with that said, here’s my take.  Again, it’s just me putting together what I know, not facts.  I don’t want to be like the other “reporters” that present their opinion as “truth”.  It appears that after time passed, he thought, “Sure, Punk is a draw but he’s not my FRIEND like Jericho and the EVPs” and the die was cast.  In Tony’s world “friends” matter.  Did he get help in coming to that point of view?  Well, wrestlers are workers for a reason.  Chris Jericho has assumed a lot of power and a promotion in Punk’s absence.  That doesn’t seem like a coincidence, especially with the aforementioned AEW friendly outlets “reporting” things that cast Jericho in a great light.  That’s why some wrestlers have some “reporters” in their back pocket, to work the masses.  Did that happen here?  I can’t say.  

Did Khan make the right decision?  

Time will tell but the signs so far aren’t positive.  As was really clear from Dynamite in Baltimore, attendance is way down since All Out and Punk and The EVP’s suspension.  If you go to their ticket website, not only are there plenty of tickets available for every show, but very large portions of buildings aren’t even for sale.  The Arthur Ashe show this year didn’t come close to what it did last year, and no one was really sure what was going on with Punk and the EVPs at that point in time.  Now that the absence of Punk and The EVPs has set in, a pattern seems to be forming and it’s not good where ticket sales are concerned.  I know some “supportive” reporters are blaming the loss of sales on the EVPs not being there (which of course fits their narrative because some of them said from the beginning that if Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks got on national TV, they would pass WWE within a year or so).  Well, the EVPs were on TV last week and Baltimore didn’t get a big bump in sales (nor did the Dynamite rating).  Atlantic City didn’t get a bump in sales either.  And again, let’s not forget that The Bucks and Omega’s segments before they left were losing viewers in a big way.  I don’t see any world where people will turn off the free TV when those guys come on, but spend money to go watch them live, but I am not an apologist trying in vain to be “right” about something I was clearly wrong about.  And let’s not forget that even before the scrum, Khan said that All Out was down significantly from last year.  He blamed WWE running events but I think the main reason was his terrible handling of the Punk-Jon Moxley program and the booking overall.  He could have made that show a draw for the Title match alone but after the ridiculous four minute bout from Dynamite a few weeks before, he turned off many buyers.  I have heard from dozens of people who say that after doing the FU to Punk they are done with AEW, but that is anecdotal evidence at best.

What we do know is that all signs point to Punk being gone after AEW putting Cabana in the match against Jericho.  The EVPs are back, and Punk is gone.  Will this be AEW’s “Finger Poke Of Doom” moment?  Time will tell.

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