After weeks and weeks of radio silence, where every tweet, rumor, and word spoken on commentary was heavily scrutinized, Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer has released a bold, definitive piece of reporting on his website, suggesting that AEW and CM Punk are nearing a contract buyout, with the lone hold up coming from the addition and length of a non-compete clause. Read what Meltzer had to say on the subject below via an h/t to Sports Illustrated.

AEW is in talks with Punk about the future but right now it looks doubtful he will be back. Those with close knowledge of the situation said they are in talks with Punk about a buy-out of the remaining years of his contract which tells you that they are not looking to bring him back. The hold-up right now is said to be the non-compete period.

Obviously if the non-compete is an issue, it’s about interest in going to WWE because there’s no need for a non-compete otherwise because nobody else but AEW and WWE can pay [Punk] close to what he was making.

So what’s the deal? Is Tony Khan, the son of a billionaire, trying to get out of his commitment to paying Punk and subsequently wants to guarantee that he doesn’t jump ship back to WWE, the company he hasn’t exactly been kind to over the past few years? Does he know of specific interest inside The Fed, from Paul “Triple H” Levesque or otherwise, that could result in the “Best in the World” making his in-ring return to the company he pipe-bombed back in 2011? If Khan is really that concerned with keeping Punk away from WWE, couldn’t he simply pay out the remainder of his contract – plus additional adjusted time away due to injury – and guarantee that the 43-year-old remains a well-paid non-wrestler in the industry?

Would a Punk return to WWE garner a massive windfall for Levesque and company? Yes; much like his AEW return, bringing back Punk in Chicago would garner a massive gate and a huge television pop for either RAW or SmackDown, but the “Best In The World” needs to only look back at his own words from his feud with MJF to re-learn a crucial lesson: the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

CM Punk would leave AEW for WWE at his own risk.

If CM Punk’s time in AEW is all but over, the storyline that will likely define his run in the company will be his feud with MJF, whom he most notably wrestled in a Dog Collar match at Revolution 2022. The duo exchanged barbs for weeks, with MJF calling Punk old and out of touch and Punk declaring that Maxwell Jacob Friedman doesn’t appreciate what he has, and in the end, A.J. Lee’s husband secured the win after recapturing his former ROH attitude with the one-night-only return of Miseria Cantare, his one-time theme on the indies.

Though both men went on to bigger and more significant things in Khan’s squared circle, with MJF orchestrating a holdout that resulted in a, by his own admission, incredibly lucrative return while his former rival Punk embarked on an absolute holy war against “Hangman” Adam Page before taking his title, injuring his leg, losing the title, winning the title again despite tearing his pec in the match and then all but ending his run in the promotion thanks to a fight now known forever as the backstage brawl, in the end, the feud sits above their other work because of the realness of the interactions.

Case and point, this gem that Punk delivered to MJF that now has a whole ‘nother context considering Khan’s desire to get his soon-to-be-former employee on a non-compete clause.

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“And listen, pal, if you think the grass is so greener on the other side, be my guest, go ahead, leave,” Punk said to MJR. “Headline Night 4 of a Buy-One-Get-One-Free Extravaganza, and then get released faster than you last in the sack. When you come back, I’ll still be here, and that a– kicking will he waiting for ya.”

TK take note: while these words were spoken to MJF by Punk, they are just as relevant the other way around.

Could Punk be coaxed back into a WWE ring by Triple H? Potentially so; if Punk hates AEW more than WWE at this stage in the game, what better way to take a shot at his most recent employer than by going back to his old one? If Punk thinks he can be the man who unseats Roman Reigns, then jump ship and see what’s up, but it’s just as likely his run turns into a promotional gimmick, and he ends up unhappier than ever.