WWE’s TV partners, FOX and NBCUniversal/USA Network, are reportedly not happy with CM Punk going to AEW.
As noted, last night’s Fight for the Fallen edition of AEW Dynamite had several strong teases for Punk coming in, and AEW announced a special event for Chicago at the United Center in August. You can click here for that report. These moves from AEW come after recent reports on Punk negotiating his in-ring return with AEW.
In an update, it was noted by Andrew Zarian of the Mat Men podcast that WWE’s network partners are “shocked” at AEW pulling off the Punk deal. It was also noted that these network executives often are not pro wrestling fans, and might not understand the inner workings of various industry happenings, or why WWE would let someone like Punk go.
It was also noted that WWE is not very concerned about Punk signing with another promotion. WWE officials reportedly realize that Punk is a big signing for AEW, but they were not in talks for Punk to return, and they do not see Punk signing with AEW as a hit to them.
With that being said, WWE does see Daniel Bryan signing with AEW as a big hit. It was explained how everyone likes Bryan, from kids to adults, he brings in strong merchandise sales, he’s been a part of the Total Bellas reality show, he has a strong comeback story, his wife, WWE Hall of Famer Brie Bella and her sister Nikki Bella are intertwined into the WWE PR and media, and both Bryan and The Bellas have been strong ambassadors for the company.
Zarian noted on Mat Men that there are WWE officials upset that the company lost Bryan. There are also rumors that WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon is very upset, and that members of management are very angry at the potential signings.
As we’ve noted, Bryan is expected to debut with AEW at the September 22 Grand Slam edition of Dynamite from New York City. It’s still not official that AEW has signed Bryan or Punk, but almost everyone connected believes the debuts are happening.
Zarian noted after his podcast aired that he received a comment from a source at one of the TV networks WWE works with.
“WWE is not as concerned about the possible Daniel Bryan and CM Punk signing to AEW as we are…,” the source said.
It’s looking like this fall will be an important time for pro wrestling as AEW brings in two of the biggest free agents in recent memory, and WWE continues to grow and make major moves.
Stay tuned for more.