AEW’s CM Punk out with an injury

CM Punk tearfully announced that he will be sidelined with a foot injury.

CM Punk tearfully announced that he will be sidelined with a foot injury.

Before All Elite Wrestling World Champion CM Punk could address the Ontario, California crowd on Friday night’s episode of rampagehis eyes were bright red. As the tears developed around his corneas, it was easy to know what was going through the mind of the Second City Saint. And he hadn’t opened his mouth.

Five days after winning AEW’s top title, Punk is sidelined with a foot injury requiring surgery. However, he has not relinquished the title, as the company will appoint an interim champion. There is a clear choice about who that man should be. It’s MJF. Grand slam of Maxwell Jacob hitting Friedman. Everyone else will fall short.

When Wednesday’s promo is on Dynamite wasn’t quite a shoot, and AEW president Tony Khan would be an idiot to let someone as mean to the gift of gab as MJF have a microphone on live television without at least having any knowledge of the insults he went to spit, there is one direction for AEW’s No. 2 minute by minute draw to deal with No. 1 on the way to the shelf. MJF has, of course, pointed this out.

There is one spot for MJF to enter with the bracket set up to crown an interim champion, Wednesday’s Battle Royal. That he is shady and somehow enters that match and wins is easy. Then later that night he beats No. 1 contender Jon Moxley and continues: Forbidden Door and wins the belt, probably pinning Hiroshi Tanahashi. What a resume-building win that would be.

This scenario isn’t as simple as replacing Punk with another high-profile star. Moxley back to the mountaintop would be fine. But why would AEW settle for something we’ve already seen recently, regardless of whether it’s good? Now, in the midst of his Blackpool Combat Club storyline, what’s so different about Mox if he were to become champion? His persona of fighting on his own works. And he would change it as champion? Count me out. If you need to get the title in the BCC, give it to Bryan Danielson. Him vs. Moxley as the two best of the stable? That would be great if Moxley lost. And Danielson vs. Tanahashi would be fantastic.

Like Danielson, there are many good options within AEW to become the next champion. Only a single perfect choice does that. An edited shoot promo that performs in epic proportions is incredibly rare in professional wrestling. The last one for MJF’s is obviously, and coincidentally, CM Punk’s “pipe bomb” as of June 2011, where he expressed grievances against his employer in the same manner as MJF. Punk’s persona mixed solidly by breaking the fourth wall and canon on camera. And it worked. Towards the end of that year, Punk began his 434-day WWE Championship reign.

AEW now has a chance to do a better job of a similar storyline, one of WWE’s best since the turn of the century. What better way for MJF to give a double middle finger to Khan and every employee at the top? He will take the company hostage with the most valuable asset in hand. Do not you like it? Try to beat him. MJF could easily prove his worth in the square circle and remain interim champion until Punk comes back. That all sounds like a storyline that Ring of Honor accomplished with Kevin (Owens) Steen as the wildcard champion.

Punk’s feud with MJF preceded his title shot and included his only in-ring loss to the hopeful interim champion since returning to professional wrestling in August. MJF would be at the top of the company in the absence of Punk, but with a giant asterisk, which would be played as the final leverage that keeps Khan from truly recognizing AEW as MJF territory. Guess what? There’s no public timeline for Punk’s return, but when there is, MJF needs to win that unification match with full bastard as well.

AEW has plenty of time to build the star that can defeat MJF, which would be a phenomenal opportunity for an ultimate hero. Until then, it’s Max’s time to shine. Imagine how many great matchups it would lead to: another match against Wardlow, who just beat MJF easy with Everything or nothing, a returning Kenny Omega, Danielson in a ‘Best in the World vs. ‘Better Than You’ showdown, Eddie Kingston and so many others. Everything else cannot be compared.