Tony Khan Explains Why CM Punk Has Already Been a Massive Success for AEW

CM Punk's arrival in AEW has already resulted in some great business for the young promotion. His debut on the Aug. 20 edition of AEW Rampage gave that drew a big rating and sold out Chicago's United Center in five minutes, his debut match at All Out against Darby Allin contributed to the show getting more than 200,000 pay-per-view buys and his first official AEW shirt has broken multiple sales records for Pro Wrestling Tees. While appearing on Busted Open Radio this past week, Khan confirmed AEW had already sold more than 100,000 of those shirts, along with thousands of his specialty ice cream bars. 

"He's exceeded every expectation anybody could have had for him however you want to slice it," Khan said. "What he's done for our attendance, record TV ratings, record PPV buys. We set a live attendance mark in Chicago. We've set all new kinds of merchandising records. We sold over 100,000 CM Punk shirts. We've sold thousands and thousands of ice cream bars since he started giving those away. He's absolutely changed our business. And that was the expectation when he came in. I spent years literally talking to CM Punk, talking to him about AEW, what it could be and how much it would mean to us if he could come back to the ring in AEW. He's doing it."

Punk spoke at the post-show press conference following All Out, where he compared AEW's recent signings (himself, Bryan Danielson, Adam Cole) to when WCW began buying up WWF's top stars in the 90s. 

"Obviously I think (tonight) is going to be very impactful," Punk said. "I'm not personally in the business of a war or competing. I know who the competition is and who the competition isn't. To me, we focus on ourselves, we focus on the talent we have and we focus on the people in the building and I think that's how we grow. It's not about throwing stones and I know TNT loves ratings and I know everybody's going to look at stuff and compare the two. For a company that's only been around for two years, I think they're doing great. And we're competing with somebody on another night who got a 30-year head start. But to me, our competition is our audience. And as long as we keep them engaged and keep them happy, and that's what we're doing.

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"I'm not (Hulk) Hogan, I'm not (Randy) Savage. Daniel Bryan and Adam Cole, they're not The Outsiders. I see the parallels, this is totally different. And I'll go ahead and say it, people can quote me and they'll be pissed off about it, to me this is bigger," he continued.