Professional wrestling is built on the stories told in and out of the ring. These often come in the form of rivalries, pitting opposing forces against one another in pursuit of bragging rights, championships, and successes. This edition of Rivalry Rewind takes a deep dive into the heated rivalry between CM Punk and Jon Moxley in WWE and, now, All Elite Wrestling.
The story between CM Punk and Jon Moxley, which is now AEW’s biggest feud, began in WWE in 2011.
CM Punk vs. Jon Moxley: A Look Back
Their Time In WWE
CM Punk joined WWE in 2006; by 2011, he was the company’s biggest star. On the other hand, Jon Moxley joined WWE’s developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling, in April 2011 and would work under the ring name Dean Ambrose. While at an FCW event in 2011, Ambrose called out Punk and the two proceeded to have their first singles match against one another.
Punk was instrumental in Ambrose’s WWE success. In 2012, while Punk was in the middle of his WWE Championship reign, Ambrose, along with Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, had formed The Shield. The group debuted at the 2012 Survivor Series pay-per-view event, interfering in the triple threat main event between Punk, John Cena, and Ryback for the WWE Championship. Their interference allowed Punk to pin Cena to retain the title. For the next few months, the group worked as mercenaries for Punk as they continued to attack his adversaries. Their partnership would end after Punk lost his WWE Championship to The Rock at the January 2013 Royal Rumble PPV.
In November of the same year, Punk and The Shield started a feud that led to a handicap match between Punk and The Shield at the TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs PPV in December, which Punk won after capitalizing on The Shield’s lack of co-ordination after Reigns accidentally speared Ambrose.
Punk would leave WWE a month later, in January 2014. In November 2014, Punk appeared on the Art of Wrestling podcast, explaining how he had hand-picked Ambrose and Rollins to be in The Shield. He also stated how they were supposed to be his group before the plans changed. After two years together, The Shield broke up in June 2014. Each member would go on to have their singles careers where each of them would succeed. Over the years, The Shield would reunite on several occasions. During his time in WWE, Ambrose became one of the most popular and successful stars until he departed from the company in April 2019.
Reviving Their Careers
In May 2019, Ambrose announced on Twitter that he was reverting to his old independent wrestling name, Jon Moxley. On May 25, Moxley debuted in AEW at the company’s inaugural event, Double Or Nothing. He attacked Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega, the company’s biggest stars. Moxley had signed a multi-year contract with AEW.
Moxley defeated Jericho at the February 2020 Revolution PPV to become AEW’s second-ever World Champion. During his time as AEW World Champion, Moxley would have feuds with real-life friend Eddie Kingston and a rekindled feud with Kenny Omega. Omega defeated Moxley at AEW’s Winter is Coming event to win the AEW World Championship. Moxley would unsuccessfully challenge Omega at the 2021 Revolution PPV in AEW’s first ever Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch.
On August 20, 2021, after much speculation, Punk debuted in AEW. In September, he made his in-ring debut at the All Out PPV against Darby Allin. Days before Punk’s debut, Moxley cut a backstage promo where he stated his frustration with wrestlers coming to AEW now that it’s a success. He explained he was the one who carried the company from the beginning and during the COVID-19 pandemic. In October 2021, Moxley entered a rehabilitation program for alcoholism. Following this announcement, Punk cut a promo where he stated he was proud of Moxley for getting help.
Moxley returned to AEW in January 2022. In February, while in a feud with MJF, Punk needed a tag team partner to face FTR. Punk chose Moxley as his partner; this was the first time both men had been in the same ring since 2014. A few months later, Moxley formed the Blackpool Combat Club faction alongside Bryan Danielson. Meanwhile, Punk began feuding with then-AEW World Champion, ‘Hangman’ Adam Page.
Punk and Page faced off at the Double or Nothing PPV in May, where Punk captured the AEW World Championship. Just days after his win, Punk suffered a broken foot, which meant he would be off TV for the foreseeable future. AEW announced an Interim AEW World Championship tournament which would cumulate at the AEW and New Japan Pro-Wrestling PPV, Forbidden Door, in June. At the PPV, Moxley defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi to become the Interim AEW World Champion. A championship unification match would be set up down the line for whenever Punk was cleared to return.
The Newfound Rivalry Between CM Punk and Jon Moxley
During Punk’s absence, Moxley had been engaged in a feud with the Jericho Appreciation Society. At the Quake at the Lake special edition of AEW Dynamite, Moxley defended his title against Jericho. After the match, Moxley was attacked by the JAS. Moxley’s teammates in the Blackpool Combat Club emerged to help fend off the JAS; however, they proved too much. In a surprise return, Punk took out the JAS and confronted Moxley. Moxley would show disrespect to Punk by giving him the middle finger and walking out of the ring.
On the following week’s episode of Dynamite, Punk opened the show and cut a promo in which he took some shots against Moxley, leading Moxley to come out to confront him. Moxley claimed he was the “heart and soul” of AEW while Punk replied by saying that he himself was the “dollars and the cents”. The pair would go back and forth, exchanging heated words before they became psychical. The pair appeared later in the show as they tried to fight again. With both men unable to wait till the All Out PPV in September, a championship unification match was announced for Dynamite’s upcoming August 24 episode.
CM Punk and Jon Moxley had similar paths in their careers. They came from the independent wrestling circuits before finding their way to WWE. Despite their successes in WWE, they became disgruntled with the company and wished to leave. They found solace in AEW, where they could truly be themselves without much restriction. With Punk’s return, the upcoming unification match has everybody’s attention. Two of AEW’s biggest stars are going to clash in what is perhaps the biggest match in the company’s history.
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.