All Elite Wrestling had a big Saturday night. The company debuted its latest televised pro wrestling program, “AEW Collision,” on TNT and marked the first in-ring appearance for former two-time AEW World Heavyweight champion CM Punk since a triceps tear in the main event of AEW’s “All Out” pay-per-view event put him on the shelf nearly 10 months ago.
Of course, Punk’s return to the company was also controversial due to the derogatory comments he directed toward AEW wrestler “Hangman” Adam Page and AEW wrestlers/executive vice presidents Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson during a press conference following the match where the injury occurred.
A legit backstage fight between Punk’s camp and Omega and the Jacksons broke out following the press conference, casting doubt on whether Punk would remain with AEW during his absence and complicating views of Punk among wrestling audiences.
But Punk delivered a speech after “AEW Collision” went off the air that struck the Pride month chord with many. The longtime wrestling favorite welcomed a fan named Colby carrying a “Support LGBTQ+ Youth” sign into the ring after he and AEW Tag Team champions FTR secured victory in the show’s main event.
As FTR’s Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler stood with the fan, Punk told a story about reposting a social media post from Chicago-based ice cream maker Pretty Cool Ice Cream featuring an ice cream bar whose profits were partially being donated to trans youth organizations.
“I got a lot of hate for reposting that message. Somebody in particular, don’t know who it is, nameless, faceless person on the internet, said ‘Why do you support that trash?’ And I thought about replying, but you can’t argue with stupid, OK,” Punk said, addressing the crowd.
“The reason I support trans kids, trans grown-ups, gay, straight, lesbian, whoever, is because I know when I was growing up I didn’t fit in anywhere. But it was because of the clothes I wore, what my hair looked like [and] the music I listened to. Those are all things I can rectify.
“But to be somebody who’s gay, lesbian, especially trans, I don’t know what it feels like to be trapped in a body that I don’t feel I belong in. That is why I support that. Support trans kids. Support gay and lesbian rights. I want everybody to be themselves. Just don’t do no harm to anybody else.”
Punk closed by posing with FTR and the fan and holding his sign high as the remaining fans roared in approval.
The divisiveness around Punk’s return is likely to remain a topic of discussion as AEW rolls into a busy stretch of international pay-per-view events this summer, but his vocal support for trans and LGBTQ youth provided at least one moment that everyone can rally behind.