CM Punk was forced to step down as AEW World Champion just days after winning it.
An emotional red-eyed punk announced Friday night on All Elite Wrestling’s “Rampage” that he was injured and will have to relinquish the title he won at Sunday’s Double or Nothing pay-per-view. An interim champion will be crowned at the Forbidden Door pay-per-view on June 26. A battle royale will open next week’s “AEW Dynamite” and the winner will face Jon Moxley in the main event to earn a spot in the match at Forbidden Porte against another challenger to be determined.
“The bad news is I’m injured and need surgery,” Punk said. “A few things are broken, the biggest is my heart because I love playing in front of you all and I wanted to have a hell of a run.”
Punk, 43, has just won the championship – his first world title since 2013 – by defeating “Hangman” Adam Page at Double or Nothing in Las Vegas. He was scheduled to face New Japan Pro Wrestling star Hiroshi Tanahashi for the AEW Championship at the companies’ first joint pay-per-view, “Forbidden Door,” at the United Center in his hometown of Chicago. Punk, however, sees the injury as a setback from which he will come back. Punk said he was ready to give up the title, but AEW President Tony Khan was unwilling.
“I told you I was going to go until the wheels fell off. The wheels are still there, they haven’t fallen off,” Punk said. “It’s just that one of them broke. I feel better than today. But I’m here to tell you that I also felt much worse. It’s a bump in the road. It hurts. It hurt like hell. I want to fight for you now.
In his first appearance as champion earlier this week on Dynamite, Punk could be seen limping after his tag team match with FTR against Max Caster and the Gunn Club and later when he came out to face MJF in the video. fans after the cameras stopped rolling. Fightful reported that Punk suffered a foot injury.
Punk returned to professional wrestling after a seven-year absence when he made his AEW debut last August. This was supposed to be his third “Summer of Punk” career with him as champion to potentially give AEW the best chance to raise its profile and reach a new audience through Punk’s stardom. It won’t happen now.
“The last thing I ever wanted to feel was like I’m letting any of you down,” Punk said. “The last thing I ever wanted to do was leave you disappointed, so I hope so far I haven’t made you feel that way. I loved every second I was in that ring. Every time I been in that ring in front of all of you, it’s a gift I never thought I’d relive.”
He tweeted at 8:15 p.m. Friday that he would be on Rampage with a major announcement regarding the AEW World Championship and his own and asking people to tune in, which immediately sparked injury concerns that turned out to be true. Punk said he didn’t want to hold AEW back with the long list of people who could be champions. He mentioned Bryan Danielson and Moxley. Punk vows to be back to reclaim his place at the top.
“The comeback is going to be bigger than the setback,” Punk said. “I’m champion for a reason and I’ll show you exactly why. I’ll come back bigger, faster, stronger and hungrier than ever and damn it, I’ve proven why I’m the best in the world!”