Backstage WWE and AEW Rumors: Latest on CM Punk, Queen of the Ring and More
CM Punk has been one of the hottest topics in professional wrestling since he left WWE in January 2014. More than seven years later, he's just as relevant, especially as reports continue to point to an agreement to return to the ring for All Elite Wrestling.
Punk's name has been on the lips of wrestling fans since recent reports suggested he has signed on the dotted line with Tony Khan's company, and speculation only intensified this week, with AEW hinting that The Straight Edge Superstar could debut as soon as August 20.
What is the latest on Punk's situation with the company?
The answer to that, and more, await in this week's collection of wrestling rumors.
Latest on CM Punk to AEW
AEW's interest in bringing CM Punk to the company began a year ago, according to Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful Select. Furthermore, Punk has been a topic of conversation backstage, especially among those who have not previously worked with him.
Any question as to whether Punk was heading to the company was seemingly erased Wednesday night on Dynamite when Tony Schiavone announced Rampage would emanate from Chicago's United Center on August 20. A thunderous chant of "CM Punk" rained down from the stands in response.
If the camera lingering and focusing on the fans chanting his name were not enough, Darby Allin blatantly referencing the "best in the world" moniker previously used by the Straight Edge Superstar should have been. MJF subtly dropping a parallel to Punk's Pipe Bomb promo later in the show was but the icing on the proverbial cake.
AEW is not shying away from the rumors that it has signed Punk, though it is also not formally announcing it, most likely to try to preserve the surprise.
With that said, if the company does not have a signed contract from Punk or has not added him to the roster, it is only shooting itself in the foot and setting its audience up for a massive disappointment come that second episode of Rampage.
Any worry fans have of that being the case should reference said Allin promo because it doesn't get much more obvious than that regarding booking plans and the presumed debut of an iconic performer.
The Finals of the Queen of the Ring Tournament Will Be WHERE?!
Earlier this week, Mat Men's Andrew Zarian reported WWE's plans to hold a Queen of the Ring tournament on the October 8 and 10 episodes of Raw and SmackDown. Wednesday, he reported the finals of the tournament are expected to be held in Saudi Arabia.
The tournament essentially equates to a crummy, dirty, propagandized commercial if Zarian's report comes to fruition.
WWE has been front and center in Saudi Arabia's attempts to alter the perception of its treatment of women, first spouting the rhetoric on commentary and then presenting the first women's wrestling match to take place in the country, between Natalya and Lacey Evans.
Still, a tournament of this significance feels like something that should be preserved for an audience that has been integral in its promotion on a major stage.
Holding the event in Saudi Arabia would likely be presented as progress, but it's hard to escape the thought that it does not paint a fair picture of women's rights in the country.
Human rights advocacy organization Amnesty International's report on Saudi Arabia for 2020 noted: "Women and girls continued to face discrimination in law and practice in relation to marriage, divorce and inheritance, and remained inadequately protected from sexual and other forms of violence. Those who had experienced domestic abuse continued to need a male guardian's permission to leave shelters."
It is also worth noting that several of WWE's women's division are members of the LGBTQ communities, and if Zarian's report is true, this event will be held in a country where homosexuality is punished by flogging and imprisonment.
Update on Cash Wheeler After Wednesday's Gruesome Dynamite Injury
Wednesday night on AEW Dynamite, during a hotly anticipated match pitting The Inner Circle's Santana and Ortiz against The Pinnacle's FTR, Cash Wheeler took a bump that saw him catch his arm between the turnbuckle and the ring post.
He disappeared from the match before cameras caught him at ringside being tended to by medical staff, with blood pouring from his forearm.
Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com reported Wheeler suffered what is considered "a really bad cut" and that "it was a completely freak thing."
Johnson also noted there was no word on whether the talented tag team specialist will miss any ring time.
There was a great deal of hype on the part of the commentary team and via the press conference setup preceding the match. Had the injury been something Wheeler could have worked through to ensure the best contest possible, rather than leaving partner Dax Harwood, Santana and Ortiz to work on the fly, he would have.
Given the state of the tag team division and the fact that The Young Bucks will be looking for new challengers now that The Dark Order is out of the running following Wednesday's opening match, one can only hope Wheeler can get back in the ring sooner rather than later because FTR figure to be top contenders.