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CM Punk thoughts in a second. Here’s a vivid memory I have from grade school.
10 of us are out in the playground playing football. It’s five on five. It’s 14-14 and the clock is ticking on recess wrapping up. The ball is snapped, the quarterback drops back, and the pressure is on. He dodges left, but then runs right. The defender runs and outstretches his arms in a desperate attempt to make the tag. As his fingertips scrape the shoulders of the QB, the ball floats into the air and into the waiting arms of a receiver in the end zone. Game over. Madness ensues.
It was like the Super Bowl out there. Both sides argued, both sides pushed one another, a fight was on, and then law and order came in and set everything right.
Ms. Kratovill was her name and she came in steaming angry. Like, if striking children at school were legal, she probably would’ve decked each of us idiots multiple times. Single-handedly, she separated both sides of the crazed grade school football league and mockingly yelled as if she were Bill Parcells on the opposite end of a pass interference call. It took seconds, but the disagreement was over. Nobody won, the group went inside the classroom and held their heads in shame as names hit the blackboard. Ouch, right? The fine work of an adult.
Tony Khan, I hear teacher salaries are painfully low and an adult in the room is missing from the CM Punk saga plaguing AEW. Maybe Ms. Kratovill can come in and help? I mean, get ready to pay though. After all, her experience wrangling immature school children fits like a glove.
It doesn’t matter what side of the argument you’re on here. Pro-CM Punk. Anti-Punk. Pro-AEW. Anti-AEW. Who cares? This saga has soared past ridiculous.
Here is the situation in a nutshell. CM Punk doesn’t get along with anybody in AEW. He’s angry at Adam Page for words in a promo ahead of their Double or Nothing match last year. Jon Moxley doesn’t want to lose to Punk, so booking choices are made to circumvent that issue. Punk doesn’t like those plans, but does them anyway. Somebody leaks detail about Punk and Colt Cabana to The Wrestling Observer. Punk believes it’s The Elite and eviscerates them in a tirade next to his boss, Khan, in a media scrum minutes after he won the world title. The Elite confront Punk after the scrum appearance and things get physical. Kenny Omega gets bit. The entire world finds out about the “brawl out” and neither side is seen on AEW programming for months. The Elite return, but Punk does not. Both sides communicate on social media like scheming children plotting a scary movie viewing during a sleepover to advocate for their side.
It’s a lot. It really is, but it all starts from a very juvenile place. An adult in the room would figure that out. Here’s how Ms. Kratovill would handle this:
The first step? She’d establish herself as an authority. She’d let the group of misfits know who is in charge and who is making the choices. Just like kids. Establishing that authority early puts a small sense fear in them and dares them to cross you.
Ok, step two? Kratovill would have yanked everyone by their ears into a room and gave everyone the hard truth face to face. That would have gone something like this:
“Tony Khan, sir? Grow a set. In no situation is it ok as the boss to sit idly by and watch an employee of yours emasculate you and your company in a public forum. Step up. Sir, that rant and tirade needed to be ended by you, which not only would have halted the words Punk was spewing, but it would have established the authority that I’m establishing right now. Where were ya?
“Punk? Wipe that smirk off your face and stop shoving cupcakes into your mouth. Not everyone is out to get you. You’re the world champion for crying out loud and you’ve beaten three of the most premiere stars that AEW has made since you made your return. Stop reacting to everything. Grow up.
Elite? Really grow up. Like, a lot. Did you leak the information about Punk and Cabana to Dave Meltzer? One side says no, the other says yes. It doesn’t matter. Your presence in the company feels juvenile each time you appear on television. Fix it and if you have a problem with something going on, talk about it like grown-ups. No running to the Bucks echo chamber in Meltzer and no fist fights either. Are you kids good with that?”
Step three? Kratovill would definitively outline next steps:
“Here’s what’s going to happen. There is no fighting on my playground. Everyone involved is suspended until I decide it’s time to bring you back. Tony Khan, you’re supposed to be in charge. What do you want? Psst, you should want to make money, so act like it. You do? Ok, spectacular. Then here’s what is going to happen. Nobody is talking to media about this. None. Nada. Khan, you’re going to prepare a response discussing the suspensions and articulating that fighting of any kind is not tolerated. Then, you will move on. Business as usual. Punk, your tricep is hanging from your arm. Did you know that? Ok, good. Go get that fixed and when you are ready to come back, you’re all coming back and we’re doing business together. That means matches. Lots of them, so we can draw some damn money. Got it?
Bucks, are you crying over there? If you could draw, maybe we wouldn’t need Punk back, but we do. Make it happen. Kenny, no more toiling away in the trios division. Sorry. Back to singles competition you go and we’re building toward a singles match with Punk. Bucks, remember, no talking to Dave Meltzer. Punk? You’re right and wrong here. Yes, there are some issues with AEW. There are hundreds of thousands of companies around the world and all of them have issues. All of them. Get out of your head and into the real world and try to fix some of these issues. Oh, and by the way, you can keep collecting your seven figure checks too. How awful? Doofus.
And Tony Khan? You’re enforcing this decision. You just told me that’s what you wanted to happen. You’re the boss. Start acting like one. I can tell already that these guys don’t like this. Oh well. Yep, they may not like you as much either moving forward. Rats. Doesn’t matter.”
Now, Dave Meltzer wouldn’t be in the room for this conversation, but Ms. Kratovill would call him. Separately, of course. That wouldn’t be good for Dave.
“Dave, sir, you’re a journalist, so report the news. No, not with a message board post, but a news story on your credible website. No apologies after the fact and no silly participation in the discourse surrounding your own story. Write the story, have it sourced, publish, and move on. Stop being the root of these issues with meandering reporting that paints various complicated situations with broad strokes, leaving holes open to be filled by any and every opinion out there. Stop it.”
Step four is most important. Outline the consequences. She’d say this:
“Fellas, it’s simple. If we don’t go this direction or if anybody from any side acts in a way that makes this direction more difficult, you’re gone. All of you. Outta here. Any slip up from anybody yields the nuclear option right away. So, think before you act. Looking at you Young Bucks … no talking to Dave Meltzer. Do you want to say that with me? A singalong, perhaps? Tony Khan, it’s on you. It’s your company, get what you want and if you don’t, make changes so others in the company see how serious you are about your way.”
In step five, Kratovill would dismiss these overgrown children and watch as they ho-hummed their way out of her classroom and into the halls of the school. She wouldn’t have been happy, but she would have been confident that her law would be obeyed.
Look, am I overdramatizing a little bit? Sure. Is it that simple? No, of course not, but can we see someone step up? Anyone. Just some adulthood from one of the players involved. Anything.
Tony Khan could simply make a decision regarding CM Punk. Bring him back or don’t. Decide and then communicate the reason for that decision. Either choice comes with a set of consequences. That’s adulthood.
The Elite need to stop talking to the media. Unless they are willing to go on the record with a full account of the situation including background and context, they need to stop. Jericho, too. These reports with bits and pieces of the story inevitably get twisted and discussed rather than digested as fact. Why? Who does that type of news help?
Dave? Just report the news, man. Don’t be the news.
And CM Punk, well, act like a damn adult. Cut it out with the silly grudges and the teenage like Instagram posts that my 13-year-old nephew would probably think twice about posting. Make your choice. Do you want back into AEW or not. If so, do what needs to be done to make that happen. You may not like it, but that’s part of being a grown-up. If not, stop worrying about what they do. Leave it alone. Or, if you feel you must address it, address it fully. Tell the entire story to a news organization that can do its due diligence on it and tell it correctly and fairly. That will probably mean you looking bad, but so be it. Nobody’s perfect
Folks, this isn’t grade school football on the playground, but the players at play certainly are acting like it is and Ms. Kratovill isn’t coming to the rescue. She’s smarter than that.
The collective age of those involved is 194 years old. Add Meltzer into that and it’s over 250 years old. Adults, the lot of them. Figure it out.