Tony Khan AEW CM Punk Screen grab: AEW

Even in its aftermath, AEW’s decision to air security footage from the real-life backstage altercation between CM Punk and Jack “Jungle Boy” Perry remains a polarizing one.

On the one hand, airing the eight-month-old footage was largely criticized by fans as a tactic to get back at Punk for his comments about the company and owner/president Tony Khan on The MMA Hour. On the other, the strategy seemed to work, at least from a ratings standpoint, with last week’s episode of AEW Dynamite garnering its largest total audience since February and best demo score since January.

Considering that the argument over whether AEW should have aired the footage is still ongoing, it’s fair to wonder whether Khan would do it over again if given the chance. But when asked about the segment’s polarizing nature on a media call ahead of AEW’s Dynasty pay-per-view on Sunday, the son of Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan stood by the decision, pointing to the praise he received from his TV partner for the rating.

There’s no arguing that airing the security footage proved to be a successful draw, although it’s worth wondering whether it’s sustainable. It’s not like this is a storyline that AEW can push forward, let alone pay off, as Punk is now working in WWE after being fired for cause by AEW as a result of the altercation.

It’s also fair to question whether popping a one-week rating was worth having the AEW audience chant for Punk while further convoluting the company’s ongoing storyline between the Young Bucks and FTR, which was used as a thinly veiled excuse to air the footage. Blurring the lines between fiction and reality is a time-tested formula in professional wrestling, but it can also lead to diminishing returns when overdone.

To Khan’s point, AEW’s weekly television ratings are currently more important than ever as the company continues negotiating its next media rights deal. Time will tell whether the decision to air the Punk-Perry footage paid off in the long run or was a mere one-week spike during a pivotal time for the promotion.

[Brandon Thurston on X]

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.