The Management Of The Elite

(Photo Credit: AEW)

This past Wednesday on Dynamite, The Elite returned to television, following a two-month suspension after the post-media scrum brawl with CM punk at All Out. The trio made its return to the organization at last weekend’s Full Gear pay-per-view after investigation supposedly was completed.

Not much is known on the particulars of the investigation, or who, if anyone, was found at fault for the backstage flight. However, judging from the fact that The elite are back on television, and there are reports that AEW management are in negotiations with Punk to buy out his contract, it would appear that Punk was considered the one to blame or at least that is the narrative from the All Elite side. Tony Khan, who is usually more than happy to comment excessively at the post-PPV press conferences was tight-lipped on the CM punk situation. Usually, Tony responded with claims that he could not comment on punk. However, he said that Punk contributed to the organization.

In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Kenny Omega said that the fans should let it go, as far as the Elite/Punk confrontation. Considering there are still contract negotiations as a result of the backstage flight, the lack of comment from the key players is a smart strategy, especially because anything disparaging towards Punk could theoretically be used as leverage in the buyout of his contract. Essentially, Punk could use anything possible to get a full buy out of his deal and more beneficial terms than he would’ve otherwise. 

That’s why it’s so puzzling that The Elite, who as far as we know, are still considered EVPs of the company, would spend the energy to take shots at Punk on television. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve written extensively about Punk being too difficult to work with and thus making himself more or less unemployable in professional wrestling, despite a dedicated fan base and a noticeable level of star power. I also explained that the entire point of the wrestling business is to make money, and Punk’s inability to do business in either WWE or AEW prevented money being draw so money was left on the table. Undoubtedly, there is plenty of blame to rightfully be put on the shoulders of CM Punk, who buried the company, while Tony Khan sat there, looking completely lost. 

That along with a few other backstage scuffles, gave the impression that Tony Khan was in over his head and that the inmates were running the asylum. Tony had to learn, in rather short order that the wrestling business is a shark tank, and he had to be a boss, not always friends with the roster. Tony also learned a hard lesson that sometimes the carnies in the wrestling business are friends based on who pays them. At some point, Tony had to do what was best for the company and perhaps that was a buyout of CM Punk’s contract. . 

But, when you taken into account that The Elite are supposedly a part of the office, these petty jabs at Punk, both on the Being The Elite blog and on television, almost reinforce that the problems of the inmates running the asylum, which would make Tony more or less being an ineffective boss, still persist. Khan has done more or less everything he can to avoid commenting on the situation so clearly he doesn’t want to put more of a spotlight on it. That’s the right move since the entire point of the CM Punk/Elite story gave the company negative publicity.

Quite frankly, if Tony Cohen was an effective boss, or at the very least, if the EVP‘s took their roles as management seriously, these silly, petty cheap shots at Punk wouldn’t have happened. Aside from the highlight of anti-CM punk chants on the Being The Elite video, there were several references to the backstage fight during the trios match on Dynamite. Matt Jackson went for a slingshot clothesline and fell to the canvas as a way to mock Punk, who botched the move when he beat Adam Page for the AEW title in May. Kenny Omega also bit Pac on the arm during the contest, a reference to the story that Ace Steel bit him during the melee behind the scenes. Finally, Omega hit Pac with the GTS, Punk’s signature move, as a way to mock him. 

What exactly does any of this prove other than perhaps The Elite are as immature as Punk claims they are?

Basically, this is one of the many reasons that active wrestlers shouldn’t be a part of the office. By nature, pro wrestling is an ego-driven business, and more often than not, if wrestlers are allowed to leverage a management position to work in their favor, they exploit it to the fullest. In this case, The Bucks and Omega put their personal grudge with CM Punk a head of everyone else on the roster because they put the story back in the headlines. Let’s keep in mind, the story claimed that AEW was run unprofessionally backstage. Again, is it worth The Elite getting a chance to snicker to themselves?

If Tony didn’t make it clear to everyone still with the company that was involved in the debacle that the subject was persona non-grata then that’s an indication of his lack of leadership On the other hand, if The Elite did it on their own and went against Tony‘s request not to to make any reference to Punk then it’s also a lack of leadership, because the trio know they can ignore the boss without any consequences. No matter how you look at it, none of this paints a good picture of the management structure, or lack there of for the company. If Tony has true aspirations to establish AEW as a legitimate alternative to the WWE and maintain a presence on that level then he must act like a boss, not someone that attempts to be friends with the roster.

The bottom line is, The Elite were selfish and put their personal grudge against Punk ahead of a match on national television for a show that the organization is trying to expand to a bigger audience. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t meant as a personal criticism against any of them. I actually met Kenny Omega, The Bucks, Cody Rhodes, and a few others at a Ring Of Honor show in 2017 during the autograph session before the event. Everyone was very polite, and Cody and The Bucks were especially polite, thanking us for waiting in line to meet them . On a personal level, The Young Bucks were very nice to me and I sincerely appreciate it, but that’s not the discussion here. 

The bottom line is here that while The Elite are over and have a dedicated following from the diehard AEW fan base, these type of antics do absolutely nothing to help the product that they are supposedly on the management team of so the whole thing is counterproductive. The titles are EVP are self-serving and rather useless in terms of management of the company. It goes without saying that if Punk returned to the promotion, which is very doubtful, it would be a huge draw on pay-per-view. Remember, Dynamite draws roughly 1 million viewers, and the PPVs generate about 140,000 buys, depending on the card, and that’s actually not a terrible conversion rate of the typical television viewers that will pay to order events, especially in the modern era. However, there’s certainly a gap between the fans that watch AEW television and those that will spend the cash to order a pay-per-view so there’s undoubtedly more money to be drawn on pay-per-view with the right angle. Macho Man punched Hulk and gave him a black eye right before Wrestlemania IX. Bret and Shawn had a backstage scuffle in the months prior to Montreal. The are numerous stories of real-life disputes in professional wrestling, but more often than not, everyone was still willing to do business because there was money to be made. The ability to draw money is the entire point of the industry. Even if Punk doesn’t wrestle again, Tony Khan and The Elite should remember that the top priority is to draw money for the company.

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Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

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