CM Punk’s AEW debut captured the attention of mainstream media outside of the typical pro wrestling bubble. He smashed sales records, and those ice cream bars are even going for insane money on eBay. None of that amazing reaction really surprised Tony Khan.

While speaking on the Le Batard and Friends show, Tony Khan admitted that he wasn’t surprised by how well CM Punk’s t-shirts sold. He quipped about how it is now an all hands on deck situation to get all of those shirts printed, and he gave the idea that the Guinness World Records tweet about CM Punk’s debut breaking an indoor decibel level might have some serious weight to it as well.

“I wasn’t surprised by how many shirts we sold. I had said it needs to be all hands on deck printing shirts and they printed, I think, as many as they could as quickly as they could, and we will continue putting lots of merchandise out to make sure everybody can get their CM Punk merchandise. We have, in fact, for the ringer tee, the blanks, we bought out the entire country’s supply of that style of t-shirt because that’s how big the demand is for CM Punk merchandise right now. When I say that everything is clicking so well, it’s an understatement because to set your merchandise record, your attendance record, and then have Guinness World Records today chiming in saying they think it might be the loudest applause, the biggest pop any wrestler has ever gotten, that’s pretty cool, too. So in terms of fan satisfaction, to all of our great fans and the merchandise sales, I think for our TV audience, this is going to be really, really great for us. As we continue to grow, I just think for the fans, if you wanted to find a reason — if you’re looking for something to motivate you to get back into wrestling, this was it. This is it.”

“I believe this was one of the best deals I’ve ever done in my life. I don’t think it was really all about money. You know, if you listen to what he and I had said, on the press conference we did, we did a scrum that was like 50 minutes and he gave so much of his time, he was so generous with really everybody that night, in terms of, obviously, wanting to spend time with the fans, but then creating this great moment by buying thousands and thousands of ice cream bars, so that everybody at this United Center was able to go out and get their free ice cream bar. That was pretty amazing. That’s something that people always remember and it was just a really cool thing for him to do for the fans.


“He was also really cool about going backstage and offering really, really kind advice, being really good with his time with the wrestlers, and [is a] super friendly person. I just think some of the stuff he did in terms of helping our young wrestlers become stars at the next level, it’s really, really, really significant and it’s going to help us grow the business, but sustain AEW for many, many years to come. So I think it was one of the best deals I’ve ever done. In so many ways, it wasn’t about money, like he and I said in the press conference, it was really a lot about getting to know each other. That was one of the side effects of the pandemic was people had a lot of time indoors, and I spent a lot of time talking to him on the phone getting to know each other better, and building trust with each other. So this was a long time coming. We’d been talking a lot for about a year and a half.”

When asked if CM Punk “paid for himself” at this point, Tony Khan had to agree that the reaction so far has warranted Punk’s price.

“Yeah, I mean, I do think so I think in terms of what this has done for our business, I really believe that as soon as we saw the results from this before we even got started, I knew this was the best deal we could have possibly done.”

We’re not sure how much CM Punk is getting paid by AEW, but he didn’t return to pro wrestling after seven years away for a lowball deal. Odds are he will continue making a lot of noise and selling a ton of merchandise along the way.

What’s your take on this story? Sound off in the comments!

Felix Upton

Felix Upton is a seasoned writer with over 30 years of experience. He began his career writing advertisements for local newspapers in New York before transitioning to publishing news for Ringside News. His expertise includes writing, editing, research, photo editing, and video editing. In his free time, he enjoys bungee jumping and learning extinct languages.

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