What a war of words. On last night’s episode of AEW Rampage, CM Punk finally came face to face with the “Mad King”, Eddie Kingston. For years, this moment has been something of a dream exchange for pro wrestling fans – with fan desire for a Kingston and Punk feud predating the existence of All Elite Wrestling itself. Whereas most dream feuds are a result of fans longing for the pivotal, ultimate dream match, this one is different; with the specific, similar promo styles of Punk and Kingston making fans long for a war of words even more than any potential match they might have.
— All Elite Wrestling on TNT (@AEWonTNT) November 6, 2021
Make no mistake: CM Punk and Eddie Kingston are two of the best promo guys in the business today. Punk’s reputation is renowned. For well over a decade and a half, his promos – which blur the lines between reality and kayfabe, making them meaningful “shoot” promos which escape the cartoonishness of what had for years been a very Vince Russo type style of working – have captivated audiences around the world. It was this style of promo which made Punk’s arguable most memorable promo, the famous 2011 “Pipebomb”, such a standout, renowned moment in pro wrestling history.
Eddie Kingston’s own style, which borrows from Punk but with an added fire and New York swagger, has made him stand out among his peers as one of the best talkers in the world today and, in the absence of Punk over the past seven and a half years, he managed to fill the void in many a fan’s life. Therefore, when these two men collided briefly on last week’s Rampage, it was a welcome moment by AEW fans – a real tease of something long-desired soon to come. That moment came last night, in the form of a 10 minute exchange which got heated fast and turned into a brawl. Punk stating that Kingston never reached the potential that the likes of himself, Samoa Joe and Homicide saw in him was met with Kingston’s mocking Punk for taking so long away from the ring. Both making use of real life grievances to their advantage in the similar style of fashion they have both made careers out of. For each other, there is the potential to be genuinely aggrieved. For the fans, there is only the potential to be entertained by dirty laundry being aired in such a public setting.
CM Punk Has Been Doing Side Quests Since Arriving in AEW
We always knew that, should CM Punk ever return to wrestling as a member of the AEW roster, he wouldn’t be catapulted straight into the main event title scene. There is a long-term plan in place there: Adam Page has long been groomed as the future top babyface in the company and at the upcoming Full Gear event, that prophecy will likely be fulfilled. Combined with the fact that Punk had been away for so long – undeniably gaining ring rust (though he has looked terrific so far) – and his own selfless, understanding of the business and his place in it, the return was always going to be a slow build back to the top. The feud with Darby Allin has, really, been the biggest thing he has done so far; it was a feud which pitched youth against experience – two alternative, babyface stars of different generations colliding in the ring for the first time ever. Since then, small-time feuds with the likes of the members of Team Taz and part-time commentary gigs have been akin to side quests. The feud with Eddie Kingston, at last, is a “main story” type quest. However, it is merely the first part of the main quest – but, quite often, the beginning is among the best and most memorable chapters of the story.
The Beginning of Something Bigger
Whereas this feud will work wonders for Kingston – getting him deserved TV time as well as a prominent spot opposite to the biggest name in the company – it is highly unlikely he wins at Full Gear. The plan, surely, is for this feud to lead to even bigger things; for Punk to move on to another big time feud, as he carries on his slow climb to the top of the world of pro wrestling once more. His character, so far, has been one of blissful gratitude; grateful to the fans for appreciating him after all this time and for Tony Khan and AEW for reinvigorating his forgotten love of professional wrestling at its finest. Kingston has awoke something different within Punk – an angrier, meaner, fiery Punk which has so far been concealed beneath all of the gratitude. Whatever the result at Full Gear, last night’s promo exchange will be remembered for marking the return of the real CM Punk. This was precisely the moment CM Punk needed.
More From LWOS Pro Wrestling
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 Rampage airs on TNT at 10 PM EST every Friday night.