POLLOCK’S UPDATE: Decision time for Tony Khan regarding CM Punk

Photo Courtesy: AEW

POST IT NOTES

**Beginning Monday, Wai Ting and I will be doing daily shows throughout WrestleMania Week on the POST Wrestling Café. We are going to be joined by guests and will be chatting about all the latest events with previews & reviews, and the latest news. On Monday, we will be chatting with Speedball Mike Bailey, who will be wrestling Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, and Shigehiro Irie on three separate shows next Thursday. It is $6 per month for access to the Café and provides you instant access to all these bonus shows and our 5+ year archive.

**A special free edition of Rewind-A-SmackDown airs live at 10 p.m. ET tonight on the POST YouTube channel. Wai Ting and Kate from Montreal will review SmackDown from Las Vegas and look at all the top stories from the past 24 hours, plus take your calls and feedback.

**For Café patrons, John Siino and I will have an IMPACT Sacrifice POST Show tonight going over the card from Windsor, the injury to Josh Alexander and how it affects the company, as well as a look at next week’s WrestleMania Week cards.

**JC Pittman was our guest on the latest Drive to Survive review covering the final two episodes of season five. Additionally, we spent a long time chatting about the role of ‘sportswashing’ that exists in F1 with various countries they are in business with including Saudi Arabia. We have made that portion of the show free for everyone with the full show on the POST Wrestling Café.

**WH Park will be releasing a new edition of The Long & Winding Royal Road on Saturday. His guest is Kieran Lefort from Must See Matches as the two will review Kenta Kobashi vs. Vader from the final of the Champion Carnival in April 1999.

**On Saturday night, the N.W.A. Podcast is live at 9 p.m. ET on the POST YouTube channel. Nate Milton, Kris Ealy & Andrew Thompson will be joined by SP3 from Tru Heel Heat for a big preview of WrestleMania and the latest news from around the wrestling industry.

POST SCHEDULE

Tonight: Rewind-A-SmackDown with Wai Ting & Kate from Montreal (Free)
Tonight: IMPACT Sacrifice POST Show with Pollock & John Siino (Patreon)
Saturday: The N.W.A. Podcast (WrestleMania 39 Preview)
Saturday: The Long & Winding Royal Road (Kobashi vs. Vader, April ’99)
Sunday: Wrestlenomics Radio  

THE LATEST ON CM PUNK & AEW

The never-ending saga between AEW and CM Punk returned to the forefront this week after a series of comments and social posts indicating that Punk wants to return while making it nearly impossible for Tony Khan to bring him back.

It was inevitable that this would occur as Punk’s torn triceps would heal and you could only delay the inevitable for so long. Your top star, who excoriated the company in a public setting prior to a backstage fight with three top stars, is healthy with a clock that is ticking on his career as he approaches age 45.

This is valuable time in Punk’s career that has already been compromised with a prior injury last year to his foot that ended his first title run on the heels of a million-dollar gate in Las Vegas and a sold-out show at the United Center the next month.

The ball started rolling this week after comments made by Dax Harwood to Fightful regarding Punk’s love for professional wrestling and dropping an innocuous detail that Punk is reading Steve Keirn’s book by Ian Douglass (of which Punk also wrote the foreword). It escalated when Punk shared an anecdote from Keirn involving a fight with Koko Ware in Memphis and being pulled into the office by Jerry Lawler and squashing their beef immediately, as opposed to letting it linger.

The differences being Keirn didn’t sit in front of the local Memphis media and call Lawler a child that couldn’t run a Target store, or that no one in the territory had drawn money while Jerry Jarrett sat next to him and had to absorb the brunt of the criticism.

It was compounded when Punk posted a message on Instagram (now deleted) sharing his thoughts on the choice of having Moxley beat Punk in three minutes on television last August to set up the rematch at All Out. Punk’s claim is that Moxley refused to lose to him (although did lose to him eleven days later in Chicago) and the idea behind the story was Rocky Balboa’s loss to Clubber Lang in Rocky 3 and Rocky triumphing in the rematch (which I guess made Ace Steel cast in the role of ‘Mickey’). It was a polarizing choice that had its endorsers and critics but ultimately, it didn’t help the pay-per-view as they did not solidify the rematch announcement until the go-home Dynamite. Even Jim Ross publicly questioned the booking that weekend leading into the rematch. Punk didn’t like the idea but deferred to Tony Khan, who did.

In addition, Punk said he was not cleared for the three-minute match after his foot injury that was sustained on June 1 in Inglewood but was told it would be a short match and didn’t need to be cleared, which obviously sounds bad on AEW’s part, if accurate. Punk ended by stating he would never put his health ahead of a company ever again.  

Punk also took the IG post as a chance to take a shot at fellow AEW wrestler Chris Jericho calling him a “liar” and a “stooge” while also discrediting reporter Dave Meltzer. He did not specify what he refuted by Meltzer, but most assumed it was based on a recent message board post.

The shot at Jericho is not going to endear him to the roster members that have seen the tumult that Punk left the company in following All Out and have had to battle through the cloud of last September’s brawl and the press conference. Whether you are a fan of Jericho or not, and Punk’s comment will endear him to critics, Jericho is one of the leaders of the locker room and if Punk’s strategy is to return to that locker room, it was a silly choice of a target when he needs all the allies he can muster to be welcomed back.

Punk has put Khan in an untenable position where there is no doubt, he would love to have his top star, who is being paid, working for the company during a time they need every boost possible ahead of their negotiations with WBD. But, is one star worth the aggravation it will cause as opposed to the minority that is Team Punk?

The locker room is not incentivized monetarily to help reconstruct that bridge with Punk in a company with guaranteed contracts while Punk’s only path back was to lose a little bit of face and walk back some of his public comments against key people in the company from last year. It does not seem that is the tact being taken and if Punk is coming out guns blazing, it is hard to envision his targets will want any part in rehabilitating his position in the company as an active performer.

For Khan, it’s either cutting bait on a major star, who could become a weapon for the opposition or bringing him back with the near certainty of alienating yourself from key members of the locker room. Punk’s private unrest is now becoming public. The longer this lingers, it suggests this won’t be the last time this subject plays out in the court of public opinion until Khan makes a firm decision and takes Punk out of purgatory.

WRESTLING NEWS

**Friday Night SmackDown has another big advance for tonight’s episode at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. WrestleTix reported 9,800 tickets have been distributed but that was as of two days ago so it’s very likely they will top 10,000, which is impressive given it’s Las Vegas at 5 p.m. local time. They have teased a major angle involving all members of the Mysterio family as Dominik has stated that he will speak to his mother Angie to gain permission to fight Rey at WrestleMania. The following matches & segments are listed for tonight:
*The Kevin Owens Show with guest Sami Zayn
*Cody Rhodes vs. Ludwig Kaiser
*Rey Mysterio vs. LA Knight
*Contract signing with Gunther, Sheamus & Drew McIntyre
*Dominik Mysterio confronts his family

**IMPACT Wrestling averaged 113,000 viewers and 0.03 in the 18-49 demographic on Thursday. It was ranked #116 among cable originals. (Showbuzz Daily)

**IMPACT was hit with a terrible blow as its champion Josh Alexander will be out for an extended period after tearing his triceps, and thus, vacating the IMPACT Championship. It throws many plans out the window as Alexander was set to headline two big shows for the company over the next month with next Thursday against KUSHIDA at Multiverse United and against Steve Maclin at Rebellion in Toronto (which would have marked one year as champion). Alexander was set for a six-man tag and is being replaced by Maclin on tonight’s Sacrifice card. A torn triceps is the same injury CM Punk sustained last September, as well as Christian Cage, which forced the program with Jungle Boy to be delayed.

The Sacrifice card has undergone multiple changes with the removal of Josh Alexander, as well as the Knockouts Championship match. After Thursday’s angle where Mickie James was put through a table, they announced she has an injury and will be unable to face Masha Slamovich tonight. Mickie is in Windsor and stated she would address the crowd with an update on her injury and the status of the title. Those were the top two matches on the show, and it hurts the show to lose the women’s title match.

Below is the updated lineup with the pre-show beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET and the main card at 8 on FITE TV and Impact Plus:
*Steve Maclin, Rich Swann & Frankie Kazarian vs. KUSHIDA & Motor City Machine Guns
*Busted Open Match: Bully Ray vs. Tommy Dreamer
*Digital Media Championship: Joe Hendry © vs. Brian Myers
*Tag Team Championships: Chris Bey & Ace Austin © vs. Shane Haste & Bad Dude Tito
*X Division Championship: Trey Miguel © vs. Lince Dorado
*Deonna Purrazzo vs. Gisele Shaw
*PCO vs. Kenny King
*Jonathan Gresham vs. Speedball Mike Bailey

**AEW Rampage is not in its usual slot tonight with the show delayed until Saturday at 10 p.m. ET on TNT. The following matches and segments were taped in Missouri for the show:
*TNT Championship: Powerhouse Hobbs © vs. Penta El Zero M
*Brody King vs. Jake Hager
*Taya Valkyrie vs. Leila Grey
*Mike Bennett & Matt Taven vs. The Acclaimed
*Ricky Starks to appear

**Mark Calaway is hosting his 1 deadMAN Show at The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas tonight following SmackDown at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. If anyone is attending and wants to send u a report they can do so at [email protected].

**WWE has two live events this weekend with Saturday’s card at the Maverik Center in Salt Lake City, Utah and on Sunday at the Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado. Sunday’s show has a huge advance with over 8,600 tickets distributed, which is a great number for TV much less a house show. The card in Salt Lake City has almost 5,000 tickets out. Cody Rhodes is scheduled for both shows. (Data: WrestleTix)

**MLW has signed a streaming deal with the Premier Streaming Network (PSN) for international distribution. The deal goes into effect this Sunday with the airing of MLW Underground Wrestling and will air weekly on a five-day delay after airing on REELZ in the U.S. The episodes will be archived on PSN with the six previous episodes available now on the service. PSN launched earlier this year and is being run by Paul Owen and Josh Shernoff, who were previously involved at FITE TV.

**Wrestlenomics posted the quarter-hours for AEW Dynamite, which started off with 1,016,000 viewers but only 391,000 in 18-49 for the opening quarter. It was unique that Q1 had the highest audience of the show but the lowest 18-49 number. The main event between Kenny Omega and El Hijo del Vikingo performed very well with the match starting in Q7 and growing 54,000 viewers (965,000) and 3,000 (461,000) in 18-49 to the show’s peak in the demo. The final quarter stayed consistent at 969,000 viewers and 455,000 in the demo, which included the angle involving Hangman Page and the BCC to end the show.

**Tony Deppen will take on Tracy Williams in the opening round of MLW’s Opera Cup on 4/6 at the War Chamber event at the Melrose Ballroom in New York City.

**WDRB in Louisville has a story on 18-year-old Lillian Bridget a.k.a. Billie Starkz, who is still in high school while performing all over the world including with AEW, GCW, and MLW. The article mentions she maintains a 4.0-grade point average and has taken theatre for all four years of high school to improve her promo skills, while also learning Japanese before she went over to TJPW for two events last November and again last weekend. Starkz has recently been featured on Ring of Honor against Trish Adora and Miranda Alize.

**The WWE stock closed at $84.95 on Friday.

**Ring of Honor had a tremendous segment on Thursday’s episode to set up the ROH Championship match at Supercard of Honor. Caprice Coleman hosted a sit-down interview with Claudio Castagnoli and Eddie Kingston with Castagnoli performing one of the best interviews of his career and leaning on the history between the two, living together, and Castagnoli calling Kingston “the biggest waste of potential” for how he’s carried himself throughout his career:

**GCW has announced that Ninja Mack will return on 5/20 in Detroit and 5/21 in Columbus. It will be his first set of matches for the group since November and has been regularly on tour with Pro Wrestling NOAH

**Congratulations to Akira Tozawa and his wife, who announced the birth of a girl.

MMA NEWS

**The UFC is at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas for its Fight Night event that features an excellent bantamweight main event. Contenders Marlon Vera and Cory Sandhagen will meet in the five-round tilt at 135 pounds, which might be the most stacked division in the sport presently. Vera has won four in a row and has come off big wins against Frankie Edgar, Rob Font, and former 135-pound champion Dominick Cruz. Vera would be on the precipice of a title fight with a win. Sandhagen suffered back-to-back decision losses to T.J. Dillashaw and Petr Yan before bouncing back last September with a TKO against Song Yadong. Sandhagen needs a win to stay afloat at the top of the division because it is all killers and losing three of four despite the high level of competition, is going to diminish title aspirations. On Bet MGM, Sandhagen is listed at -165 and Vera at +140.

Here is the full fight card for Saturday:

MAIN CARD (7 p.m. ET on ESPN, TSN 3 in Canada)

*Marlon Vera vs. Cory Sandhagen
*Holly Holm vs. Yana Santos
*Nate Landwehr vs. Austin Lingo
*Andrea Lee vs. Maycee Barber
*Manel Kape vs. Alex Perez
*Albert Duraev vs. Chidi Njokuani

PRELIMINARY CARD (4 p.m. ET on ESPN+ & TSN+)
*Daniel Pineda vs. Tucker Lutz
*Steven Peterson vs. Lucas Alexander
*Trevin Giles vs. Preston Parsons
*CJ Vergara vs. Daniel Da Silva
*Victor Altamirano vs. Vinicius Salvador

**A lightweight fight scheduled for the UFC Fight Night show was removed due to a weight management issue. Manuel Torres was unable to step onto the scale on Friday and his fight with Trey Ogden was scrapped from the card after Ogden made weight.

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About John Pollock 5605 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.