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Could locker room drama affect the status of AEW: Fight Forever?

Could the departure of CM Punk cause a huge delay for the release of AEW: Fight Forever?

Is it just me, or has news about All Elite Wrestling’s debut game AEW: Fight Forever once again gone silent? Following the announcement that THQ Nordic would pick up the load to publish the title back in August, it seemed like momentum was starting to pick up for the game. In fact, the arcade-style wrestling title even went on to win Best Sports Game later that month at gamescom 2022.

However, since then, everything went silent. It’s no secret that development faced a rocky road since Yuke’s started the project in 2020. From excessive spending and cut content to the development team butting heads with Kenny Omega, Fight Forever’s journey faced a lot of challenges.

Now, even with persistent claims that the game will launch this year, the spark of momentum from August wains quickly. And the reason for this may even stem from outside the world of gaming. Following AEW’s September pay-per-view All Out, a heated real-life altercation between CM Punk and members of The Elite left everyone involved in the brawl suspended.

Although it appears that star talents Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks will make their AEW return, the chances of ever seeing CM Punk back are slim to none. That certainly complicates things when the man is placed smack dab in the center of your video game cover. Doesn’t it?

So, what does this mean for AEW: Fight Forever? Will we see Punk cut from the game? Or will AEW, Yuke’s and THQ Nordic truck forward as planned?

AEW goes double or nothing on CM Punk

Let’s face it: CM Punk was one of the top stars in the company. After his WWE career came to an end in 2014, wrestling fans could only dream of the day the Best in the World made his big comeback.

Yet, it was a comeback that seemed ever less probable as the years dragged on. Even after fans became hopeful of a wrestling return for CM Punk following AEW’s 2019 launch, those rumors quickly died off as Punk himself dispelled any claims of a return. However, that all changed in August 2021 when CM Punk shocked the world with his AEW debut and return to professional wrestling on an episode of Rampage.

CM Punk makes his pro-wrestling return

Following his return, Punk would prominently appear on weekly broadcasts of Dynamite before eventually toppling “Hangman” Adam Page for the AEW World Championship at this year’s Double or Nothing event. Although it was during this storyline when Punk first developed a chip on his shoulder against Page and other wrestlers on the roster, it remained clear that AEW wanted to center the company around the star.

But why am I telling you all this, and how does it relate to the video game?

Losing CM Punk could mean more than one less wrestler in the game

Let’s say the team opts to cut CM Punk from the game. Obviously, that means players won’t be able to use the straight-edge icon. It also means we should expect some brand new cover art. Disappointing as it may be for CM Punk fans, if those were the only changes made to the game, that really wouldn’t be so bad.

Well, given his prominence within the company, it’s safe to assume that CM Punk plays (or possibly played) a major role within the Career Mode of AEW: Fight Forever. Considering the plan for the game’s career mode involves taking your created wrestler through a series of storylines as you climb the ranks of the company, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to believe you would cross paths with the Best in the World from time to time. Now, if AEW decides to give the video game version of Punk the boot as well, that throws a giant monkey wrench in the Career Mode.

CM Punk takes on Paul Wight in the game

Ultimately, losing CM Punk could mean Yuke’s needs to cut—and likely completely replace—entire sections from the main mode in Fight Forever. Essentially, this puts the development team on a track that will inevitably lead to a delay in the game’s release. In addition, the extra development time will also lead to more spending. As we know, the game already went over budget, which ultimately led to cut content.

But Cody Rhodes is still in the game…

Some may argue that it’s unlikely CM Punk will get cut from AEW: Fight Forever due to multiple reasons. One reason is that we are pretty late in the game to make such a major change. In addition, Kenny Omega confirmed that despite his recent move to WWE, Cody Rhodes will still appear in AEW’s video game.

In fact, in an interview with Sports Illustrated, Omega emphasized the importance of preserving AEW’s legacy from the company’s inception. Since Rhodes played such a pivotal role in founding the promotion, there was never a possibility of him not making it into the game.

I was very passionate about making sure his legacy and position within the company was preserved… …You get to experience AEW from the beginning, from day one. The game is going to reflect a lot of that, even though our locker room is ever-changing.

Kenny Omega

For that reason, you can argue that CM Punk’s current status within the company makes little to no difference on his existence in the game. Additionally, as of now, the marketing team made no changes to Fight Forever’s advertising. Every week on Dynamite the broadcast team boasts a short plug about pre-ordering the game, and a picture of the game’s cover art with CM Punk appears briefly in the bottom left corner of the screen.

Regardless, there remains cause for concern. Aside from the obvious silence and lack of update about AEW: Fight Forever, CM Punk’s history in dealing with his video game likeness also begs to question whether he’ll appear in the new title.

After CM Punk parted from WWE in 2014, the company decided to keep the wrestler in its newest title at the time WWE 2K15. As a result, Punk fired back by taking the issue to court. In the end, WWE’s call to keep him in the game became a costly decision that resulted in Punk receiving an undisclosed settlement. Given that history, AEW may err on the side of caution when it comes to keeping him in the game.

AEW: Fight Forever powerslams into your home… eventually

One thing we do know, however, is that we will eventually get our hands on AEW: Fight Forever. Unfortunately, though, as we make our way through November with still no release date, it looks more likely that we’ll see the game next year at the earliest. And while there may very well be other causes, one glaring white elephant that could cause this delay is the real-life drama involving CM Punk.

AEW: Fight Forever Announcement Trailer

AEW: Fight Forever is developed by Yuke’s and published by THQ Nordic. The game will release worldwide for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC. You can also learn more about the game by checking out our article detailing everything we know so far. In addition, you can pre-order it on the official website!

Do you think CM Punk will get cut from the game? And when do you think we’ll hear more about the title’s status? As always, let us know what you think in the comments!

Sam Fronsman

A writer with a love for video games, both new and old. A collector of games, CDs and DVDs. Can sometimes be found behind a camera or playing guitar. The X-Men games for SEGA Genesis will always hold great memories.
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