CM Punk-Jack Perry Footage is Much Ado About Stuffing

The talk of the wrestling world this week seems to be AEW’s decision to air backstage footage of the All In confrontation between CM Punk and Jack Perry. It’s led to folks seemingly losing their minds over something that lasted approximately 10 seconds and was honestly, pretty boring, especially with no audio. To which I say, “Eh, whatever.”

Let me get this out of the way first – it was dumb to air this. I know some folks will only read the title of this article and make their own decisions on what I have to say, which is of course the way of the world today. I posted that Simpsons image before the footage ever aired, and given a few days to think about it, I feel pretty confident I was right from the start. This was dumb but when all is said and done, won’t lead to the company dying or anything.

The night it aired, with every Tom, Dick, and Nathaniel popping up out of the woodwork giving their “expert” analysis, I was thinking, “Oh man, I don’t want to write another book.” The court of public opinion was seemingly unanimous with its verdict – it was a low rent publicity stunt that had back fired. The company was doomed by it. But I don’t think that’s the case. Note I said think, not know, that’s the case. Who knows what the future holds.

AEW is at a major crossroads at this point. It has one of the greatest rosters I’ve ever witnessed in my entire fandom. Seriously, look up and down at that crew – you have Danielson, Moxley, Okada, FTR, Bucks, Copeland, Mercedes, and so many more. You have the guy who is my favorite in the world with everyone else a distant second in Will Ospreay. You have countless amazing matches with the next PPV, Dynasty, looking to be nonstop bangers as the kids say. But the company has a decided lack of traction in the form of ratings and ticket sales. Which begs the question – how can it get on track and fully utilize the incredible talent under contract?

I think we can all agree it’s not by looking at the past and what cannot be changed. Continuing the war of tribalism is a losing strategy. To be honest, if the footage had shown Perry punching Punk in the face and KO’ing him like he was Glass Joe wouldn’t have changed anything. The sides are already drawn, and those that feast upon creating sound bites and “AEW IS DEAD!” YouTube graphics will fashion those out of whatever is given to them no matter what is shown. Here, quite literally NOTHING was really shown but we got those anyway. Your best bet is to never feed the trolls.

It’s time for the company to establish its identity again. The best way to do that is to give the world what it does best – incredible matches and great PPVs. Say what you will about the company, but there have been VERY few PPVs that weren’t great, with many being all-timers. To build those however you do need storylines and in looking at the hottest angles the company has ever done, I’d put MJF-Adam Cole near the top of the list. And what was that? The simplest, most easy to follow story ever. That one fell completely apart with the Cole injury and the Devil silliness of course, but for a long time that was something that DID drive revenue. Wrestling doesn’t need to be complex. Keep it simple and easy to follow. I’d point to TNA’s biggest PPV ever, in which the build was a simple “Who is better – Samoa Joe or Kurt Angle?” You can do the same here (and in some ways they are with Ospreay vs. Danielson). But you need to supplement that with other simple, logistical stories to keep fans interested.

So no, I don’t believe AEW is going out of business due to the nonsensical decision to show this on Dynamite. Just like WCW didn’t go out of business when the Sting-Hogan Starrcade match was something of a disaster. The key though is you can’t pile stupid thing on stupid thing like Bischoff and the like did, because that WILL lead to destruction, especially in this environment where everyone wants to jump to a “winning” side. It’s not too late for AEW to right the ship. The question is…will they?

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