When CM Punk made his amazing return to pro wrestling after seven years when he debuted on AEW Rampage on August 20 in Chicago, it was an emotional return for both the industry and the fans alike. He discussed his reasons for needing time off to heal, his desire to work with younger talent, and much more. One comment he made seemed to get little notice – “I’m back because there’s a couple of scores to settle in that locker room.” While most of CM Punk’s greatest rivals are still working elsewhere, AEW’s locker room does indeed include several talents that he had issues with during his time in WWE from 2006 to 2014. So who exactly in AEW’s Locker Room does CM Punk have “scores to settle”? Here’s a quick look at those on AEW’s roster that have had interactions with CM Punk that may still be unresolved.
Matt Sydal, IWA Mid-South, 2004-2005
Long before Matt Sydal headed to WWE to become Evan Bourne or CM Punk had his Summer of Punk in either ROH or WWE, Sydal and Punk engaged in a feud in IWA Mid-South that saw them face off twice, once in 2004 at Stylin’ in the Summertime and then again in 2005 at Catch A Rising Star. They’d faced previously when they were both appearing for TNA in 2003 when Punk and Julio Dinero (as part of Raven’s Gathering) defeated Sydal and Onyx on TNA Xplosion, but in IWA Mid-South, the two faced off in singles matches, both won by Punk. Punk would pick up two more wins over Sydal – now Evan Bourne – in WWE in 2010, making him undefeated against the high-flying Sydal. While this score would seem to be settled on Punk’s end, Sydal may just want to prove that he has what it takes to finally defeat Punk in a wrestling ring.
Jack Evans, Ring of Honor, 2004-2005
During his early years in Ring of Honor, Punk was part of the stable The Second City Saints, along with Ace Steel and Colt Cabana, and they feuded with Generation Next in late 2004 and 2005. Generation Next featured Roderick Strong, Alex Shelley, Austin Aries, and AEW star Jack Evans, and in their three encounters, Generation Next picked up the win twice. Now paired with Angelico in TH2 in AEW, Evans may look to hold the winning feud over Punk’s head, which could lead Punk to look to settle a score from ROH that goes back 16 years, possibly by reuniting with former Second City Saint partner (and current Dark Order member) Colt Cabana.
Christopher Daniels, Ring of Honor, 2005
CM Punk and Christopher Daniels faced each other on many occasions from 2001 until 2005, in multiple promotions like International Wrestling Cartel (IWC), IWA Mid-South, ROH, and PWG, but at ROH The Homecoming in July of 2005, Punk and Daniels finally met one-on-one for Punk’s ROH World Championship. The match ended up a 60-minute time limit draw, and soon after, Punk was headed to WWE and Daniels became a mainstay with TNA/IMPACT Wrestling. With Punk never having the opportunity to definitively beat Daniels in a rematch, perhaps the Fallen Angel and the Second City Saint will finally have their blow-off match 16 years later in an AEW ring.
Chavo Guerrero Jr., ECW, 2007-2008
CM Punk made his WWE debut initially as part of the rebooted ECW brand, and during his 143-day reign as ECW Champion, Punk’s final rival would be against Chavo Guerrero Jr. Starting in December of 2007, Punk and Chavo fought each other nearly every night at WWE Live Events, and in January of 2008, on ECW on SyFy, Chavo finally ended Punk’s reign and became the ECW Champion. Punk would continue to feud with Chavo through the summer but failed to reclaim the ECW title. Now that Chavo is in AEW, Punk could look to get his final payback against Chavo, either against Guerrero himself or Guerrero’s new protege Andrade El Idolo.
Cody Rhodes, WWE, 2008
In late 2008, CM Punk and Kofi Kingston were WWE Tag Team Champions and they won those titles from Legacy‘s Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase Jr. While Legacy failed to regain the titles from Punk and Kingston, Cody would continue to feud with CM Punk in various incarnations and alliances until early 2009. Eventually, Punk would ally with Legacy on occasion, before feuding again in 2012 and 2013. In late 2013, Punk would ally with the Rhodes Brothers, Cody and Goldust, in their feud against The Shield, just months before he left WWE, so in all likelihood, there is no score to settle. But you never know what gets in the mind of Cody Rhodes, and he may still want to avenge that tag team title loss way back in 2008.
Doc Gallows, WWE, 2010
In 2009, CM Punk started the Straight Edge Society with Serena Deeb, Joey Mercury, and Luke Gallows – the latter had previously been known as Festus and Punk’s induction into the SES was after he freed Festus from the medications that held him down. For nearly a year, Gallows was the enforcer for Punk, until Punk turned his back on the group in the fall of 2010. This lead to Punk defeating Gallows on SmackDown in November of 2010 then assuming leadership of The Nexus, tossing Gallows to the gutter. While Gallows is technically part of the IMPACT locker room, he tends to hang out a lot backstage in AEW with his buddies in The Elite. Gallows bad taste in his mouth for the last time he faced Punk could be a part of the narrative that leads Punk to AEW World Champion Kenny Omega.
Chris Jericho, WWE, 2012
From 2008 to 2012, Punk and Chris Jericho had a rather average relationship in WWE. They were sometimes allies, sometimes enemies, as their stories fuelled some of the top angles in the company. But in 2012, things got personal, when the two WWE Superstars began their feud over who was truly “The Best In The World” when it came to pro wrestling. The two feuded over multiple PPVs that year, from WrestleMania 28 to Extreme Rules to Payback, with each encounter getting more personal and more violent. Chris Jericho is arguably the biggest wrestling score that Punk has currently working in AEW.
Jon Moxley, WWE, 2013
While Jericho may be the biggest rival of Punk’s scores to settle, the most anticipated is probably Jon Moxley. During his WWE career as Dean Ambrose, Moxley had plenty of run-ins with CM Punk, mostly bad. The Shield targeted CM Punk right from the get-go with their debut in 2013, and Punk feuded with the trio right up to his departure from the WWE in early 2014. And his biggest rival in the trio – or at least his biggest foil – was always Dean Ambrose, who Punk took great pleasure in firing up. Moxley may be one of the Kings of AEW right now, but he may still hold a grudge against the man who embarrassed him for six months in the WWE.
Colt Cabana, 2019
While many expect this to be addressed in an AEW ring (and it may), chances are it won’t be. Both men like their private lives to remain private, and both remained silent when news broke of their friendship falling apart in 2019 due to lawsuits over the WWE defamation suit. Hopefully, these two have managed to patch up and heal their longtime friendship behind the scenes and both can move forward and make some great memories together. But this is one rivalry I think deserves to NOT become a storyline – instead, I’d rather see them reform the Second City Saints and do a tag team run.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can catch AEW Dynamite Wednesday nights at 8 PM ET on TNT and AEW Dark: Elevation (Monday nights) and AEW: Dark (Tuesday nights) at 7 PM ET on YouTube. AEW’s new show, AEW Rampage, airs on TNT at 10 PM EST every Friday night.