In a riveting episode of AEW Dynamite, held in the wrestling heartland of Chicago, AEW World Champion Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) made a stirring reference to the controversial former AEW star CM Punk. This reference comes amid the backdrop of CM Punk's dramatic exit from AEW in September 2023 following a backstage altercation with Jack Perry at the AEW All In London event.
Adding to the intrigue, there were rumors of an incident involving Punk and AEW CEO Tony Khan, which reportedly escalated to Khan expressing concerns for his safety on national television.
Punk's Chicago Legacy
CM Punk, a Chicago native, has a storied history with the city.
His debut in AEW in 2021 at the United Center in Chicago was a momentous occasion, paralleling his significant achievements during his tenure with WWE. Among these, the most notable was his WWE Title victory over John Cena at Money in the Bank 2011, an event etched in the memories of wrestling aficionados.
AEW's decision to host the Dynamite episode prior to American Thanksgiving in Chicago is more than just a nod to tradition. Tony Khan, AEW Owner, CEO, and GM, has personal ties to Illinois, making this event a homecoming of sorts, a gesture to bring top-tier wrestling entertainment to his home state during the festive season.
The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly MJF's exchange with Samoa Joe, Punk's last opponent in AEW and a fellow Ring of Honor legend. In a poignant moment, MJF remarked to Joe, "You wouldn’t be the first Ring of Honor legend I beat here in Chicago…twice”.
This statement resonated with the Chicago crowd, eliciting a knowing reaction, as they recalled MJF's past encounters with CM Punk.
Reflecting on MJF's victories over Punk, the first occurred on February 2nd, 2022, during an AEW Dynamite event in Chicago.
"You wouldn’t be the first Ring of Honor legend I beat here in Chicago. TWICE!"
MJF shooting from the hip at CM Punk 😭 #AEWDynamite pic.twitter.com/n2zcneCwMi — Public Enemies Podcast (@TheEnemiesPE3) November 23, 2023
MJF emerged victorious using questionable tactics involving wrist tape to choke out Punk, a move initially missed by the referee. Even after the match was restarted, MJF skillfully secured his win with the Dynamite Diamond Ring.
MJF's reference to Punk is not just a mere mention; it's a reminder of his formidable presence in the ring and his ability to triumph over celebrated legends, especially in their hometown. This moment on Dynamite not only cements MJF's status as a top-tier wrestler in AEW but also serves as a stark reminder of the ever-evolving and unpredictable nature of professional wrestling.