CM Punk AEW Press Conference Screen grab: AEW

Pro wrestling is often at its best when it blurs its storylines and reality.

Since its inception in 2019, All Elite Wrestling (AEW) has taken a unique approach in attempting to accomplish just that by holding post-show press conferences following each one of its pay-per-views. The scrums typically feature AEW owner/president Tony Khan and key participants from the show fielding questions from real-life journalists and content creators, with the answers straddling the line between shoot (real) and kayfabe (storyline).

The press conferences typically aren’t essential viewing — for the most part, you could skip them and not miss a beat following the on-screen storylines. But while they do provide a peek by the curtain for more hardcore pro wrestling enthusiasts, not everybody is a fan of them, including one of professional wrestling’s biggest stars.

“Those things are really cringe,” CM Punk told Ariel Helwani during a wide ranging interview on The MMA Hour on Monday. “Like, it’s pro wrestling. I did one the day I came back [to AEW in 2021], I was like, ‘Well this is a big deal. I get it.’ But the problem you have with pro wrestling is anybody with a Twitter calls themselves a reporter or a journalist or whatever.”

The irony in Punk’s statement is that he was a part of arguably the most infamous scrum in wrestling history, which occurred following the AEW All Out pay-per-view in 2022. Frustrated with real-life issues he had with the company and some of his co-workers, Punk used the opportunity to air his grievances, which reportedly resulted in a real-life physical altercation between himself and fellow wrestlers/AEW executive vice presidents Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks.

“I experienced it first hand — the amount of misinformation that came out based on that,” Punk said of the reporting that stemmed from the incident.

A year later, Punk would be involved in another backstage altercation — this one with Jack “Jungle Boy” Perry, which resulted in him being fired from AEW for cause. Punk would proceed to return to WWE, which now holds its own post-show press conferences (although he has yet to participate in one with the company).

As for Punk’s comments, this author will never argue for less access, but it’s also fair to question how much of an actual demand there is for these press conferences. WWE tried doing them in scripted form in 2014 and they were predictably terrible. And while AEW’s are more authentic and do provide some insight, there are still plenty of topics the participants appear unwilling to address.

Unlike AEW, WWE’s current press conferences are typically sponsored and as long as that doesn’t change, one would imagine they’ll be continuing moving forward. Still, considering the manner in which Paul “Triple H” Levesque was grilled about the allegations against Vince McMahon following the Royal Rumble, one would imagine that Punk isn’t the only person in WWE who isn’t a fan of the format.

[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.