The AEW: Fight Forever release date has finally been set for June 29, but after years of waiting, the announcement has only given wrestling fans more fuel for their wild speculation about why the game's taken so long.
AEW management had been teasing a game since 2019, before the scrappy wrestling promotion had even aired its first TV episode. Plans for Yuke's, the former WWE 2K developer, to make the game were made official in 2020, and the title of AEW: Fight Forever was finally announced in 2022. Throughout this protracted marketing cycle, news about the game tended to more often come through wrestling rumor mills than proper announcements, and despite positive responses to showings at events like Gamescom, fans have been a bit skeptical about whether this game's going to deliver a proper alternative to 2K.
Insider reports suggested that AEW: Fight Forever was expected to launch in September 2022 - but that month proved to be a controversial one for AEW. That's when the formerly long-retired megastar CM Punk defeated Jon Moxley for the AEW World Championship during All Out, and in a post-show media event, went extremely off-script to air his personal grievances against several fellow wrestlers. After some of the founding members of AEW confronted Punk over those comments, a backstage fight ensued that wrestling enthusiasts coined 'Brawl Out'.
While all that sounds like it should be a wrestling storyline, it's sadly quite real. Punk was unceremoniously stripped of the championship and quickly disappeared from AEW television. A few months after the brawl, a new trailer for Fight Forever was released, and at that time the game's cover art was altered to remove CM Punk. AEW insisted that Punk had not been removed from the game, but wrestling fans being wrestling fans, there began to be a feeling that maybe this whole strange dispute could be holding the game back.
Now, we're once again in the middle of rumors that Punk is returning to AEW, potentially to headline a new weekly wrestling show for the company. Nobody has any idea at this point whether Punk and AEW have mended their relationship, but the timing of these new rumors with the Fight Forever release date has gotten us to the point of further reckless speculation.
Maybe AEW was holding the game back for Punk's comeback? Or maybe he's gone and they're finally clear to launch the game without his likeness attached? The possibilities are truly endless. "This definitely confirms that CM Punk is back," as one Reddit user puts it. "Or that he's gone for good. Or that it's still up in the air."
The only things more exhausting than video game rumors are wrestling rumors, and now that they've been combined, I just want to go to sleep.
Bone up on the AEW roster while we await further news.