The Adam Page vs CM Punk feud was a heated one at the time, but the aftermath of their match and it’s build up changed AEW forever.
When CM Punk made his long awaited return to wrestling on August 20th, 2021, few people could have expected just what would happen next over the coming year. From his spectacular entrance on AEW Rampage to his final explosive press conference after All Out 2022, CM Punk‘s year (and a bit) in AEW will go down as one of the most interesting in wrestling – even if he doesn’t return to the company after his suspension and eight-month long injury.
The high point of his run had to be his huge victory of “Hangman” Adam Page at AEW Double or Nothing 2022. This was his first championship match in over 8 years and saw him walk out of the T-Mobile Arena as the AEW Champion for the first time in his career. It ended Adam Page‘s impressive reign with the belt, which started at Full Gear 2021 but had been building ever since the inception of AEW.
CM Punk vs Adam Page was a fantastic match that did record numbers for AEW. However, the consequences of the match and it’s build up had a huge ripple effect through AEW.
Combined with a number of other factors that will be referenced later in the article (include a backstage fight and CM Punk’s favourite bakery), it caused a huge shake up in AEW that will be felt for years to come, and at times felt like it could be the end of All Elite Wrestling as we know it.
Recent controversy has made the build-up for a hopeful rematch between the Page and Punk even more hyped than the first, but with CM Punk possibly never returning to the company and Page’s recent injury scare, that match could be just another pipe dream match that fans will never get to experience again.
The Promo That Started It All
The build up to the match between the two seemed as simple as any other. CM Punk had quickly racked up wins in AEW over a number of wrestlers, like Eddie Kingston, Darby Allin and Wardlow. His crowning glory was his defeat of MJF (Maxwell Jacob Freidman) at AEW Revolution 2022 in a brutal Dog Collar Match that had fans really thinking that CM Punk was back for good.
Meanwhile, Adam Page had spent the previous two years trying his best to climb to the top of AEW while confronting his own demons, in one of the most relatable story in AEW history. After his split from The Elite, he battled depression and alcoholism to finally beat Kenny Omega at Full Gear 2021 and win the AEW Championship for the first time in his career.
He defended the title numerous times, including against Bryan Danielson, Adam Cole and Dante Martin but his biggest test would be against CM Punk at Double or Nothing 2022. It was CM Punk’s time, having been back in wrestling for nearly a year and securing his place as the most popular man on the roster – his T-shirt sales were the highest in the history of the company.
The match seemed obvious. The champion taking on the most popular challenger in one of their biggest shows of the year. The story was as simple as it needed to be and fans were just excited to see their new favourite and their childhood hero battling it out inside the ring for the biggest prize in wrestling.
However, it was the build up to the match that started all the issues between CM Punk, Adam Page and The Elite as a whole. A series of promos from each man, aimed at the other, set the scene for their blockbuster bout but it was a face-to-face encounter that would enrage Punk, with the grudge being held all the way until his ill-fated press conference after All Out 2022.
During their heated confrontation on AEW Dynamite in May 2022, Adam Page apparently went off scrip on Punk, claiming that he has “protecting” AEW from CM Punk, a jab which Punk looked confused about and took to heart. The segment was an all-time great one but one which the former AEW Champion remembered for months, even after beating Page at Double or Nothing 2022.
CM Punk vs Adam Page
The main event of AEW Double or Nothing 2022 was one of the biggest in AEW history. It pitted CM Punk vs Adam Page, with the Chicago native chasing his first AEW Championship and his 7th world championship in career (counting his one Ring of Honor Championship reign too).
Their match was highly anticipated, although with an air of expectation to it. Not only did they need to put on an incredible match, to justify having Page as the champion and proving CM Punk was good enough to hang with The Elite in the ring, the match also had to make up for a lull in performance AEW had been having at the time.
With Kenny Omega out with injury, the main event scene had been stagnant and missing the big personality they had had over the past year. Adam Page was incredible in the ring but his feuds had been lacklustre as Tony Khan seemed to have trouble booking a babyface champion after the year long heel reign by Omega.
Adam Page vs Kenny Omega was a great match. Not the best match AEW had ever had, but a great one nonetheless. Punk’s age and ring rust was apparent, with a number of botches in the match (and in the build up) taking away from the match but the pairs psychology was on point.
CM Punk pinned Hangman after GTS to win the AEW Championship and solidify himself as the top wrestler in AEW. It was something he always struggle to prove to Vince McMahon in WWE, but there was no mistaking his stardom now.
His title reign would be a short one. The Dynamite after the event, he suffered a foot injury which would keep him out of the ring until August, forcing AEW to crown an interim AEW Champion (the title was won by Jon Moxley, after his victory of Hiroshi Tanahashi at Forbidden Door). Meanwhile, Adam Page would be lost in the shuffle after his loss as the AEW booking took a downhill turn and brought on one of the low points in the companies history, creatively.
All Out Post Show Scrum
When he returned from his injury in August to battle Jon Moxley, CM Punk first called out Adam Page to fight him inside the ring. This was also unscripted and there was never any intention of having Hangman come out to the ring. This was purely a power move by the Best in the World (a “receipt” of sorts) for the shot that Page took at him earlier in the year.
CM Punk beat Jon Moxley at All Out 2022, regaining his AEW Championship and showing the world that was back. However, he suffered an injury during the match which was said to keep him out for 8 months, but that would not be the big talking point from the event.
In the post show press scrum, CM Punk was joined on stage by Tony Khan and began to field questions from journalists. However, he largely ignored them, instead going on an expletive laden rant and tearing down a number of wrestlers, including Colt Cabana, The Elite and “Hangman” Adam Page.
He accused Adam Page of “jeopardising the first million-dollar house that this company has ever drawn” by making the unscripted comments about Punk during the promo referenced earlier. He accused him of being a “disgrace to this industry, to this company” and it was clear the comments really got to CM Punk back in May 2022.
When somebody [Page] who hasn’t done a damn thing in this business jeopardizes the first million-dollar house that this company has ever drawn off of my back and goes on national television and does that, it’s a disgrace to this industry. It’s a disgrace to this company. Now, we’re far beyond apologies. I gave him a fucking chance. It did not get handled and you saw what I had to do, which is very regrettable, lowering myself to his fucking level, but that’s where we’re at right now.”
After the press conference, Punk got into a fight backstage with Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks and his friend Ace Steel. All the men involved were suspended from AEW and stripped of their respective championships (that night, The Elite had become the first ever AEW Trios Championship). The supsension did not really affect Punk, as his injury meant he could not wrestle for another 8 months anyway, but it ruined the huge return that Omega had made just weeks earlier.
(Ace Steel has since been fired from AEW, with CM Punk rumoured to follow)
Adam Page was not involved in the entanglement and as such suffered no consequences. He recently challenged Jon Moxley for the AEW Championship on Dynamite, although he suffered a concussion that caused the match to be abandoned.
It doesn’t like we’ll ever see an Adam Page vs CM Punk rematch, with the Best in the World unlikely to ever return to All Elite Wrestling, or maybe pro-wrestling at all, in the future.