Dave Meltzer CM Punk Screen grab: Wrestling Observer Radio

CM Punk’s interview with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour on Monday sent waves throughout the pro wrestling industry.

But while most of the WWE superstar’s ire was seemingly directed toward AEW owner and president Tony Khan, he also took a not-so-subtle shot at one of the industry’s most prominent reporters, Dave Meltzer.

“If you’re more happy with some goof saying that you had a five-star match and the building is a quarter full, then we’re not in the same business,” Punk said in reference to AEW, where he wrestled from 2021-2023.

Punk’s comment was seemingly a thinly veiled — if that — dig at Meltzer’s five-star match scale, which has been very kind to AEW since the promotion’s inception in 2019. Discussing Punk’s interview on the latest episode of Wrestling Observer Radio, the longtime wrestling journalist addressed the comment, noting that the Chicago native hasn’t been shy to seek his opinion in the not-too-distant past.

“The whole thing of ‘the goof with the five-stars’ and everything, that was a cool shot,” Meltzer said. “But you know, he contacted me plenty of times and I wasn’t such a goof talking TV ratings when he came in [to AEW] and just goes, ‘You’ve got to explain TV ratings to me because it’s not something that I’ve learned, so you’ve got to explain it.’ And I tried and all that. But whatever, none of that really matters today.”

Punk wouldn’t be the first pro wrestler to criticize Meltzer publicly while speaking to him privately, as the Wrestling Observer Newsletter publisher has long been a lightning rod in the industry. And while Punk’s criticism of AEW’s focus on critical success at the expense of financial success could certainly be debated, it’s curious that he would refer to Meltzer as a “goof” while also seeking his input behind the scenes.

Perhaps something happened in the time since he reached out to Meltzer regarding ratings that shifted the 45-year-old’s opinion of the longtime wrestling journalist. But regardless of the reasoning for his comments, all of this adds just yet another layer to Punk’s messy relationship with his former employer.

[Wrestling Observer Radio]

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.