CM Punk’s AEW run may have ended in a bang, but that doesn’t take away from the incredible matches he had during his time with the company. From his epic debut on AEW Rampage in 2021 to his final match in the biggest wrestling show of all time, one thing you could never accuse the Best in the World of being is boring.
CM Punk wrestled 33 times for All Elite Wrestling, competing in a variety of different matches. He left the company in 2023 as a three-time AEW Champion, but ruined his legacy by attacking Jack Perry and Tony Khan backstage at Wembley Stadium, before being fired a week later. While his future is unclear, we can look back at our favorite matches from CM Punk time in AEW.
10. CM Punk vs Dustin Rhodes – AEW Dynamite 4/20/22
Nobody saw this match coming, but CM Punk’s clash with Dustin Rhodes in April 2022 saw both men turn back the clock and put on an “old school” style match that wowed fans and wrestlers alike. This match took place during the build up for CM Punk’s match with Adam Page at Double or Nothing, and did enough to make Punk look like a dangerous challenger for the AEW Champion.
CM Punk vs Dustin Rhodes told a simple, but effective story. Punk almost played the heel in the match, targeting the knee of the veteran Rhodes and slowly breaking down the veteran with his superior technical skills. The pair referenced a Goldust vs Bret Hart match from the 1990s in this bout, and even ended the match with the same finish as Bret Hart vs British Bulldog from Summerslam 1992.
9. CM Punk & Jon Moxley vs Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood – AEW Dynamite 2/9/22
One of the forgotten great matches in AEW was from February 2022. CM Punk was chasing MJF for his rematch, but The Pinnacle leader refused to step into the ring with him. Instead, Punk brought out a partner – Jon Moxley – to join him in fighting MJF’s associates FTR in a classic tag team match on Dynamite.
It was a fairly standard built tag team match, but the four men involved made it great. FTR are tag team supremos, taking the art form to another level with their combination moves and heel tactics. Coupled with the skill and experience of legends like CM Punk and Jon Moxley, this bout had everything you need for a fantastic wrestling match.
8. CM Punk vs Adam Page – AEW Double or Nothing 2022
Now one of the most infamous matches in AEW history (due to Page’s comments before being the catalyst for “Brawl Out”), at the time, CM Punk vs Adam Page was a very well received match. While it did not reach the highs of some of Kenny Omega’s AEW Championship defenses, it was the perfect main event match to see CM Punk lift his first world championship in a decade.
Punk managed to botch two Buckshot Lariats and looked slightly out of his depth against Page, but that didn’t stop him from winning the AEW Championship for the first time in his career (even though he really didn’t want to win it). Despite what followed, I really enjoyed this match, and it was definitely the right call to make at the time.
7. CM Punk, Darby Allin & Sting vs MJF, Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood – AEW Dynamite Holiday Bash 2021
One of the most fun matches AEW have ever put on was the first time Sting and CM Punk shared the ring together in AEW. In the midst of CM Punk’s rivalry with MJF in 2021 and 2022, he teamed up with Sting and Darby Allin to take on three members of the Pinnacle – MJF, Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood.
This was the match where CM Punk paid homage to Sting by painting his face like the classic “Surfer Sting“, while Sting also referenced Punk with his own face paint. The match carried on the fun, with Punk chasing MJF all around the arena while Sting hit all his classic spots in the ring with FTR.
If you want a five-star mat classic, this match isn’t it. But if you want to switch off your brain and have some fun watching some of the all-time greats entertain a hot crowd, this match is for you and is the reason why this is one of CM Punk’s best matches in All Elite Wrestling.
6. CM Punk vs Jon Moxley – AEW All Out 2022
This match is not often talked about, due to the madness that followed it. CM Punk won the AEW Championship from Jon Moxley at All Out 2022 in a great match, that showcased both of their skill sets in a fantastic brawl that kept the crowd on their feet from the first bell. It also ended with MJF’s return to challenge Punk for the AEW Championship, putting the title’s future in good hands.
The, it happened. CM Punk ran down Colt Cabana and The Elite in the post-show press conferences, while also nursing an arm injury that kept him out for eight months. He then went to his dressing room and had a physical fight with The Elite, which saw all of them suspended and stripped of their titles.
5. CM Punk vs Darby Allin – AEW All In 2021
Garnering the biggest buy rate in AEW history, CM Punk’s first match in AEW against Darby Allin was truly one of his best. Upon first viewing, I was quite disappointed. It was not the CM Punk I remembered, lamenting the Punk that had legendary bouts with John Cena, Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker.
However, with every rewatch, the match gets better and better. One day, it may even be seen as CM Punk’s best match in AEW. The match paid homage to the iconic Bret Hart vs 1-2-3 Kid match from 1994, with Punk playing the veteran Hitman to Allin’s up-and-coming Kid. Punk used his experience and savvy to counter Darby Allin’s youthful exuberance, leading to a clash of styles that had all 10,000 fans enamored from the first bell.
CM Punk won the match with GTS, kicking off one of the most legendary two-year runs any wrestling promotion has ever seen.
4. CM Punk vs MJF – AEW Dynamite 2/2/22
CM Punk’s first match with MJF on AEW Dynamite was a 40-minute classic with a rabid crowd who could not wait to see Punk get his hands on his rival. However, they had to wait a bit longer than expected, as MJF pulled out a shock victory (twice, he claims) in Punk’s hometown of Chicago in one of the biggest wins of his career.
The match came weeks after some of the best promos in AEW history, which included both men hurling insults at one another, as well as MJF opening his heart out to the crowd – something we’d never seen in AEW before. This set the stage for a huge clash on AEW Dynamite, and was the first real big match of CM Punk’s return to wrestling.
MJF won the match by stoppage 25-minutes in, but the referee quickly spotted that he used tape to illegally choke out Punk. They wrestled for 15 more minutes (in a section that included the first Pepsi Plunge in 17-years) before MJF used the Dynamite Diamond Ring to knock out Punk, beating him in his hometown in a fantastic match.
3. CM Punk vs Eddie Kingston – AEW Full Gear 2021
While their feud was short, Eddie Kingston came out looking like a star in his defeat against CM Punk at Full Gear 2021. It was truly one of the best matches of both man’s career, and gave a glimpse of how CM Punk would work as a heel after his big return earlier that summer.
The rivalry began simply, with Punk interrupting Kingston. This spiraled into Kingston cutting a legendary promo on Punk about their past together, which lead to a match together at the next pay per view. It was a fantastic match which, despite not being very long, made both men more popular than they would have been without it.
2. CM Punk vs MJF (Dog Collar Match) – AEW Revolution 2022
The Dog Collar Match at AEW Revolution 2022 was the polar opposite to their encounter on Dynamite, but CM Punk and MJF pulled off a match both men can call one of their best matches. The match was arguably the best match on a show that featured 4 matches that could be argued to be five-star classics. This bout was a brutal and bloody dog collar match which took both men to depths of depravity which we have not seen for a long time.
It was one of the bloodiest AEW matches I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been watching since the first ever show. Chairs, thumb tacks and various other forms of weaponry were on show, with helped the blood pour from the head’s of both men, making JBL vs Eddie Guerrero look tame in comparison (but not really, that match was a bloodbath).
The match ending helped put the feud to bed, while further two other stories. The win fro Punk helped move him onto a match with Adam Page for the AEW Championship, while Wardlow’s involvement saw him turn on MJF for the first time and begin a legendary rivalry that would end in disaster.
1. CM Punk vs Samoa Joe – AEW All In 2023
As somebody who was at All In at Wembley Stadium, CM Punk vs Samoa Joe is by far Punk’s greatest match in AEW. While things were kicking off backstage and Punk was quickly killing his AEW career, as soon as “Cult of Personality” hit, the crowd erupted and the old CM Punk was back. Yes, most of the crowd were booing Punk, but that did not faze him.
This match looked back at nearly two-decades of his rivalry with Samoa Joe, and arguably became the best match in the series. Punk’s selling was like prime Shawn Michaels, and he made Samoa Joe look like an absolute monster. It was an all out brawl, with Punk clearly playing the heel as he weaseled his way to get the better of Samoa Joe.
Being unable to hit the GTS due to Samoa Joe’s incredible size, Punk needed a new way to win. Instead of forcing Joe to tape out to the Anaconda Vice, he hit the Pepsi Plunge on the ROH Television Champion before pinning him for the victory. CM Punk was fired a week after this match, with that Pepsi Plunge being the final move of his career, and Samoa Joe being his last match.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.