CM Punk’s victory lap as AEW world champion will have to wait. Punk announced on Friday’s episode of AEW Rampage that he is injured and will undergo surgery. Punk assured fans that this was a temporary setback and that he would not be retiring.
Punk shared the news just five days after he beat “Hangman” Adam Page for the world title at AEW Double or Nothing. The former WWE champion delivered an emotional speech about his desire to perform at his best for the AEW audience.
“The bad news is I’m injured and I need surgery,” Punk said. “A couple of things are broken. The biggest thing is my heart because I love nothing more than performing for you and I wanted to go on one hell of a run. That’s the bad news. The good news is I can still do all that. I told you I was going to go until the wheels fall off. Well, the wheels are still there. They haven’t fallen off. It’s just that one of them happens to be broken. But I’ve come back from worse.”
Punk revealed that he was willing to relinquish the AEW world championship, but AEW founder Tony Khan advocated against it.
“I told Tony before I came out here that I don’t want to hold this place up,” Punk said. “There is a long laundry list of talent in the back that can fill my shoes. That can be champion. I’m talking Bryan Danielson. I’m talking Jon Moxley. I’m not here to stand in anyone’s way. I told Tony I would relinquish this title but Tony told me that he believes in CM Punk and he believes this is just a bump in the road. I’m gonna tell you, I needed to hear that.
“I’m champion for a reason and I’m going to show you exactly why. I will come back bigger, faster, stronger and hungrier than ever both. And god damn it, I will prove exactly why I am the best in the world!”
There was initially confusion as to the future of the AEW world title. Chris Jericho, who serves as both an in-ring performer and commentator in AEW, noted during the broadcast that Punk was relinquishing his belt. However, an interim AEW world champion will instead be crowned. A battle royal is scheduled for Wednesday’s episode of AEW Dynamite. The winner of the battle royale will face Jon Moxley in the main event that same evening. Whoever wins Wednesday’s main event will go on to fight for the interim title at the Forbidden Door pay-per-view. Punk was originally scheduled to face New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Hiroshi Tanahashi at the June 26 PPV event.