Triple H, CM Punk and WWE and AEW's Biggest Winners and Losers in August

Kevin BergeAugust 31, 2022

Triple H, CM Punk and WWE and AEW's Biggest Winners and Losers in August

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    Triple H shakes hands with a new WWE recruit. Credit: WWE.com.

    August 2022 may not have included any pay-per-views, but it was an eventful month that began to show the new direction of both WWE and All Elite Wrestling.

    Triple H took over WWE Creative in late July following the retirement of Vince McMahon, but his effect was only truly felt in the following month.

    Kevin Owens was probably the most obvious benefactor, getting a major character reset. The Judgment Day have not looked as good, falling short in repeat matches to veterans Rey Mysterio and Edge.

    AEW saw two major returns from injury in CM Punk and Kenny Omega, but with very different results. The Cleaner has made an immediate impression on AEW television again while the former AEW world champion was squashed in minutes by Jon Moxley to lose his title.

    It was a big month that made the future look brighter than ever for professional wrestling. Most were winners, but there were some unfortunate losers. The following are the biggest in both camps.

Winner: Triple H

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    Triple H has spent a long time in WWE and worked his way up the ranks. He won 14 world titles through constant reliability. He was never the top guy, but he was always able to fit in with one of them.

    That hard work paid off in a big way as he transitioned from wrestler to executive and began to create his own future in WWE. His run in charge of NXT was widely lauded, but the show never found the commercial success to match its critical praise.

    After a serious cardiac event in September 2021, The Game stepped back from WWE and NXT, but Vince McMahon's retirement in July 2022 brought him into the light as the new head of WWE Creative.

    The 53-year-old has taken charge of WWE at a time when the company needed new direction, and he has made its content feel fresh for the first time in a long time.

    He has been able to slowly but surely push his favorite talent into better positions while giving more freedom to the talent on the mic and in the ring. A looser structure and unique stories made this WWE must-watch television in August.

    No one can replace McMahon in terms of longevity, but Triple H has taken to the creative role far better and quicker than anyone expected.

Winner: Kenny Omega

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    Nobody's return to the ring was more anticipated than Kenny Omega's.

    Arguably the best wrestler in the world, The Cleaner underwent surgery on a number of injuries after losing the AEW world title to "Hangman" Adam Page in November 2021.

    After nine months on the sidelines, Omega returned to an overwhelming ovation from AEW fans on August 17. He is starting slow intentionally, though, telling the story of a man working his way back.

    He and The Young Bucks could well win big at All Out on Sunday night to become the first AEW Trios champions, but he is clearly as big a star as he ever was. He should be able to work better than ever after a lengthy hiatus.

    Everyone gets injured at some point, but what matters is how they protect themselves when they need to most. Omega took nine months for surgery and recovery, and now he should gradually work up to the biggest performances.

    Injuries have sidelined two of the biggest names in wrestling, Becky Lynch and Thunder Rosa, during August. But both can come back major winners with proper time spent recovering and protecting themselves.

Winner: Kevin Owens

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    Kevin Owens was the second-ever universal champion. He is a two-time intercontinental champion and three-time United States titleholder. But much of that has been forgotten in recent years.

    That's because he has not won a title since 2017. While he hasn't been in the background during the past five years, he has not felt like as big a threat in that time.

    Triple H's first order of business has been to bring the 38-year-old back to a time when he was a title collector as The Prizefighter.

    Owens may not have won gold yet, but he's on track to be challenging for a title before long. In recent weeks, he has cut memorable promos, competed with Drew McIntyre, defeated Chad Gable and Jey Uso, and set a challenge to Roman Reigns.

    The future looks bright for KO.

Loser: CM Punk

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    In a month of highs for so many others, CM Punk has had a rough time. He made his shocking return to action in August and ruffled plenty of feathers in the process.

    According to Fightful Select, Punk took an unprompted shot at "Hangman" Adam Page due to anger with a past promo from the former champion. Further reports have focused on his status with AEW.

    Punk went on to lose to Jon Moxley in his return match, officially ending his run as AEW world champion. It was a short bout that could well have indicated he is not working at 100 percent fitness.

    It is still unclear how much of these events are scripted, but it has cast a shadow over one one of the best feel-good stories in AEW. Punk's return to wrestling felt like a special moment, but the shine could be wearing off after just one year.

    There is still a chance everything will work out: Punk could win the AEW World Championship back or help elevate Mox and other top AEW names.

    The first week of September will be a big one for The Best in the World.

Loser: The Judgment Day

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    The biggest stable WWE has built in 2022 has also been the most awkward. With every step forward, The Judgment Day seem to take a step back as well.

    Edge built a crew with Damian Priest and Rhea Ripley, only for Finn Balor to usurp him. Since then, Balor and Priest have lost matches to Rey Mysterio, Dominik Mysterio and The Rated-R Superstar.

    This is a feud that has stayed in neutral and failed to deliver any memorable matches. The only exception in the booking has been Ripley, who will likely go after the Raw Women's Championship before long.

    Even while The Nightmare rises, though, it's only because she hasn't actually wrestled. Balor and Priest have lost more than they have won at a time when the group need legitimacy.

    As long as WWE is committed to the stable as a serious threat, this should be a temporary setback. Balor, Priest and Ripley remain too talented not to succeed.

Winner: Jon Moxley

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    While CM Punk had a rough month, Jon Moxley solidified his status as the face of AEW.

    The first man to ever capture the AEW world title twice, Mox finally gets a chance to work in front of a crowd as world champion.

    The 36-year-old was the titleholder during the pandemic era. It was a thankless role, and AEW has done right by giving him a better run this time.

    Even in his short time as champion, Moxley has made a definitive statement. His matches with Chris Jericho, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Brody King were physical showcases that made the summer of AEW an exciting one.

    All of that was capped off by one of the most memorable moments of the year when Mox defeated Punk in just three minutes.

    No one can take away Moxley's status as the first man to hold the AEW World Championship twice. If Punk cannot defeat him in a rematch, that feat will not be matched for a long time to come.

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