CM Punk Receives Mixed Response From Toronto Crowd on AEW Collision

CM Punk is back. The Second City Saint made his long-awaited return to All Elite Wrestling earlier this month on the debut edition of AEW Collision, receiving a hero’s welcome in his hometown of Chicago. This was expected, as Punk has always been showered in cheers when wrestling in Chi-Town throughout his career regardless of his status as a babyface or a heel. That said, speculation ran wild regarding how other arenas would respond to Punk in the wake of his backstage beef with The Elite. When Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks returned to AEW in November 2022, the Prudential Center shouted loud “f–k CM Punk” chants, indicating that the former AEW World Champion was not as popular as he used to be in some markets.

That unpopularity returned tonight on AEW Collision. Punk competed alongside AEW World Tag Team Champions FTR and Ricky Starks in an eight-man tag team main event. After Starks and FTR received just about universal praise, “Cult of Personality” was met with a mixed response from the Scotiabank Arena. Punk played up to the conflicted Toronto crowd as well, egging on some of the jeers.

Punk’s polarizing reception continued throughout the match. A good portion of the audience would chant for Punk, and those chant attempts were met with boos from the other half of the crowd.

“I think it’ll be very exciting to see how the fans react, but I expect a very positive reaction, particularly in Chicago for the first episode,” AEW President Tony Khan said earlier this year regarding whether Punk will wrestle as a babyface or heel upon his return. “I think then, going forward, CM Punk’s one of the most popular wrestlers in the world, so certainly he’s going to get a great reaction. Depending on who his opponent and the type of reaction he’s trying to get, I expect CM Punk to connect with the crowd as well as anybody in the entire pro wrestling business. He had an amazing connection with the fans.”

While Punk’s side was rolling late, a cheap shot from Juice Robinson to Starks set up Jay White to nail the Blade Runner on Starks for the 1-2-3.

Punk wrestles his first singles match in over nine months this Sunday at AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door when he takes on Satoshi Kojima in a first round match-up of the Owen Hart Cup tournament.

AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door card:

  • IWGP United States Championship: Kenny Omega vs. Will Ospreay
  • Kazuchika Okada vs. Bryan Danielson
  • AEW World Championship: MJF vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
  • IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Sanada vs. “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry
  • AEW International Championship: Orange Cassidy vs. Katsuyori Shibata vs. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Daniel Garcia
  • Owen Hart Cup: CM Punk vs. Satoshi Kojima
  • AEW Women’s World Championship: Toni Storm vs. Willow Nightingale
  • Blackpool Combat Club (Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli, Wheeler Yuta), Konosuke Takeshita & Shota Umino vs. The Elite (Hangman Page & The Young Bucks), Eddie Kingston & Tomohiro Ishii
  • Sting, Darby Allin & Tetsuya Naito vs. Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara & Minoru Suzuki
  • Owen Hart Cup: Athena vs. Billie Starkz (Zero Hour)