Ariel Helwani, Tony Khan, Becky Lynch, Rhea Ripley Screen grab: The MMA Hour

Monday’s episode of Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour blurred the lines between reality and fiction as an altercation broke out between WWE superstars Rhea Ripley and Becky Lynch.

But while the confrontation was clearly an angle (see: scripted) to help build Ripley and Lynch’s upcoming match at WrestleMania XL, Helwani got the show back on track by taking a not-so-subtle shot at All Elite Wrestling (AEW) owner and president Tony Khan.

“Can I just say this after what just transpired? I’ve been doing this show for 15 years. Never did I ever think that my life would be in danger doing this show,” Helwani said. “And for the first time doing this show, I felt like not only my life was in danger, but the workers, the crew’s life was in danger. And I don’t want that to ever happen again. And so I’ll apologize to all of them. And on behalf of Becky Lynch, I’d like to apologize to Rhea Ripley.”

The nature of Helwani’s comments weren’t lost on his audience — at least not the portion that’s familiar with the backstage happenings in pro wrestling — as they mirrored what Khan said following the backstage altercation between CM Punk and Jack “Jungle Boy” Perry at the All In pay-per-view last August.

“I’ve been going to wrestling shows for over 30 years. I’ve been producing them on this network for nearly four years,” Khan said in a video statement announcing he had fired Punk for cause. “Never in all that time have I ever felt, until last Sunday, that my security, my safety, my life was in danger at a wrestling show. I don’t think anybody should feel that way at work. I don’t think the people I work with should feel that way and I had to make a very difficult choice today.”

Coincidentally or not, Punk had appeared as a guest on The MMA Hour earlier on Monday, where he publicly addressed his departure from AEW for the first time. Asked specifically about Khan’s comments about fearing for his life, Punk implied that his former boss was being overdramatic.

“I can’t tell you what Tony felt or what he was thinking, but I never did anything that would make him fear for his life,” Punk told Helwani. “But he’s who he is.”

Between the content of Punk’s interview and Helwani’s thinly veiled jab following the staged Lynch-Ripley altercation, it’s a safe bet that Khan — who already has a contentious relationship with Helwani — won’t be appearing on The MMA Hour anytime soon.

[The MMA Hour]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.