Tony Khan on Not Pushing CM Punk Into The AEW World Championship Picture When He First Arrived

CM Punk has been with All Elite Wrestling for just over nine months and Sunday's Double or Nothing pay-per-view will mark the first time he'll challenge for the AEW World Championship. Some fans believed Punk would have (or should have) been pushed into the main event shortly after his August 2021 debut. Instead, Punk slowly worked his way up the card with feuds against Darby Allin, Eddie Kingston and MJF before finally turning his attention to Adam "Hangman" Page. ComicBook asked Tony Khan if he was ever tempted to shoot Punk straight to the top during a media conference call on Thursday and the AEW president maintained that he always planned for the former WWE star to slowly work his way up the rankings. 

"No I thought, like everybody in AEW, it would make sense for CM Punk to come in, fight top wrestlers and if he did want to wrestle for the AEW Championship, which I think is something that clearly is very important, then I think he would come in and like everybody work his way towards the top and try and earn that top spot in the rakings. He has really put in the work in and out of the ring for this company," Khan said.

Punk talked about his time in AEW thus far during a recent interview with ComicBook, saying, "This run has been more than what I expected. I had expectations. They were pretty high. So far, they've pretty much shattered all that, and that's just based on analytics and numbers of how well we're doing. I've long said that I'm there for the fans in the building. Nowadays everybody is still focused on ratings numbers when cable is absolutely — I canceled DirecTV months ago. I just, I couldn't do it anymore. It's too convoluted. It's too expensive. Streaming services are, I feel like, are the future. So when people look at ratings and say that wrestling is dying, I say, 'Well look at our buildings. We're selling out and we're doing our first million-dollar gate.' So I don't attribute that just to me. I attribute that to the spirit of AEW and everybody behind the scenes that makes it all work and makes it all click.

"But the run, my run specifically, my stuff as a whole, I've never been happier in a wrestling ring. I've never, to me, been telling more fluid, better, reality-based stories. It's been a real treat," he added.