Ace Steel was a producer for AEW before Brawl Out changed everything. He was fired for his part in the locker room melee, which included throwing a chair and biting Kenny Omega, but a new report stated that Steel is already getting AEW paychecks again.
A report came out this week which said AEW actually re-hired Ace Steel “several months ago.” Of course, Ace Steel was the sticking point with CM Punk, because AEW was willing to re-hire Steel, but he wasn’t allowed in the building for their television taping events.
The Second City Savior was absent from their Collision announcement, and that got the rumor mill going in a big way. After all, CM Punk was set to be a focal point for their new Saturday Collision show.
According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, AEW has denied that Ace Steel was re-hired. This adds another interesting element to this story.
Steel, who was the only person fired after the Brawl after All Out last year, for allegedly hitting Nick Jackson hard with a chair in the head and biting Kenny Omega, was apparently one of Punk’s requests or demands to return. Steel and Punk were under the impression he would be back in his old role as a producer.
Steel had been in talk with Impact until several weeks ago, concurrent with the detailed story (and as noted denied to us by AEW) that he had inked a new deal to return.
The story is that Tony Khan told Punk that Steel could have his job and work closely with Punk, but that he would work remotely and not be brought to the Collision tapings. Everything fell apart at that point. AEW told WBD to remove Punk from all press materials. Keep in mind that we went through similar drama with MJF, which was a secret Brian Pillman storyline prior to last year’s Double or Nothing and the storyline goal was to lead to MJF beating Punk for the title upon his return at All Out, which never happened because Punk was injured, delaying the match to Full Gear, and then Punk was injured again, so Jon Moxley had to take his place in losing at Full Gear. While there is no indication from anyone reliable that this is a situation similar to that, we do have a precedent from Double or Nothing where everyone was kept in the dark about everything.
The key difference is that the Punk WBD announcement was supposed to be huge, and while the Saturday show was not completely incumbent on Punk’s return, those at WBD, because of his prior ratings and business success with AEW, pushed very hard for him to be brought back.
It was later noted in the Newsletter that, “Nick Hausman reported that Steel was actually rehired months ago. We had that denied to us when asking several weeks back, but based on what we were told by others weeks ago when the name first started surfacing, the claim had been he was hired a few weeks before that, so about six or seven weeks ago would fit that time table. But at the time those close to him said that it was a closely kept secret and he would actually return at the first Collision show. Even top people in AEW at the time were unaware of this and most still didn’t know until this week. When key talent found out about two weeks ago, they were shocked.”
This is a very interesting story, and there is a lot to unpack here. It was widely expected that CM Punk would be a part of the Collision show, but then he apparently pulled out of the deal. Promotional material and press releases needed to be changed. One link was forgotten which showed Punk’s name on a press release, and that was the big clue that started this whole situation.
There could be some more “legal things” to deal with in this situation. If anything, we know that CM Punk is going to be in the new AEW Fight Forever video game when it drops.
CM Punk has since lashed out at reports of these issues. He also told obsessed pro wrestling fans to “go touch grass.” Obviously, this story is far from over at this point. For what it’s worth, Warner Bros Discovery hopes that CM Punk and AEW can work things out.
What’s your take on CM Punk’s issues with AEW this time around? Should they give Punk what he wants? Sound off in the comments!