In the often-mercurial world of professional wrestling, maintaining a disciplined locker room is paramount for a brand’s integrity and reputation. All Elite Wrestling (AEW), the trailblazing wrestling promotion, has had its share of backstage strife, most notably culminating in the controversial dismissal of the enigmatic CM Punk. As this discord festers in AEW’s backstage arena, a potential mediator has stepped forward: Josh Barnett, the youngest-ever UFC Heavyweight Champion, and an indomitable figure in both the MMA and wrestling worlds.
AEW’s internal challenges reached a boiling point during their landmark ‘All In’ Pay-Per-View (PPV) event. It wasn’t merely the spotlight that caused tempers to flare; it was a culmination of long-standing disagreements and heightened emotions. The fallout led to the exit of CM Punk, a departure that has catalysed discussions around locker room culture and discipline.
Tony Khan, the impresario behind AEW, has faced mounting pressure to bring order to his ranks. The wrestling world has questioned whether the absence of a dedicated enforcer or mediator is a glaring oversight that Khan should promptly address. Amidst this atmosphere of unrest, Josh Barnett has made a public overture to bring stability to the turbulent environment.
Barnett is a unique figure who straddles the often-divergent worlds of MMA and professional wrestling. His annual event, ‘Bloodsport’, co-produced with Game Changer Wrestling (GCW), serves as a testament to his knack for synthesising elements from both disciplines. Add to this a well-documented association with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), and you have a candidate seemingly tailor-made to mend the fences within AEW.
Through his social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, Barnett extended a transparent, unsolicited offer to AEW’s Tony Khan. He posted, “Just a thought: Seems like the AEW locker room is in need of someone to establish some order and reign in the chaos. If Tony needs someone to keep discipline and sort out conflict, I’d be willing to take the job. I can promise you there won’t be random fights and anyone asking me if I’d like to, ‘Take it outside.’”
This forthright offer illuminates not only Barnett’s willingness to get involved but also places a spotlight on a lingering issue within AEW—an issue that could affect its long-term success and credibility.
AEW’s locker room has been a crucible for conflict, as underscored by the recent events involving Jack Perry and CM Punk during the ‘All In’ PPV. While both wrestlers were initially suspended, Punk was ultimately let go due to repeated instances of professional misconduct. The firings and suspensions don’t just reflect on the individuals involved; they are indicative of a systemic problem that AEW must address. Failing to do so could tarnish the brand and alienate its ever-growing fan base.
Barnett’s experience is not just theoretical; his professional MMA record stands at 35-8, a testament to his prowess in combat sports. After leaving MMA, he plunged into the wrestling world, creating ‘Bloodsport,’ a hybrid spectacle that borrows rules from MMA to ensure that matches conclude only with a knockout or submission. This experience offers AEW an asset that is accustomed to enforcing discipline, a quality sorely needed in their locker room.
As the wrestling world watches, the next move is decidedly in the hands of Tony Khan. With ongoing controversies that risk undermining the reputation of his burgeoning empire, Khan must decide whether to bring in a figure of authority to stabilise the locker room dynamics. Josh Barnett has thrown his hat into the ring, figuratively and potentially literally. His proposition offers AEW an intriguing solution to its backstage quandaries, one that comes with combat-tested experience and a deep understanding of the wrestling milieu.
It remains to be seen if Barnett’s offer will be accepted or whether AEW will take another route to resolve its internal chaos. Nevertheless, his proposal represents a turning point in how wrestling promotions may think about maintaining locker room order in the years to come. With a disciplined locker room being a crucial element for the brand’s success, Barnett’s offer could be the panacea that AEW urgently needs.