The unthinkable has happened. As the curtain was coming down on Survivor Series, CM Punk made his shocking return to WWE. It was a return that many had speculated on but one that most of us could never have imagined taking place. The wrestling world was turned on its head that night. Now that Punk has returned to his “home” everyone is looking forward to what CM Punk matches/feuds he might enter into. But this is also a great time to look back at some of the great memories that Punk has already created.
CM Punk is responsible for some of the best moments and matches in WWE history. His list of matches and moments is incredibly impressive. Below is a list of the defining moments of CM Punks’ first run.
Memorable CM Punk Matches from His First WWE Run
CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar (Summerslam 2013)
Once Paul Heyman turned on CM Punk, at Money in the Bank, it was only a matter of time before the original Paul Heyman guys would clash. It was a fun program that included some great promos from both Punk and Heyman, but it was at Summerslam where the two wrestlers got to shine.
It was a true David vs. Goliath story between Brock Lesnar and CM Punk. One that saw an undersized Punk use the No-DQ stipulation to even the playing field. For the first time, in a long time, Lesnar was on the defensive. He looked human on that night and that was a testament to the work that both he and Punk put in. It was a match that stole the show, at Summerslam, and is on the list of best matches of either man’s career.
CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy (Ladder Match for the World Heavyweight Championship, Summerslam 2009)
Punk’s first run with the World Heavyweight Title was an abject failure, one that was rectified in 2009 when he turned heel to snatch the strap from Jeff Hardy. Punk and Hardy turned in a great program that saw some impassioned promos delivered from both men. It also included a fantastic main event at the ‘Biggest Party of the Summer.’
The ladder match for the World Heavyweight Championship was always going to be good, both men were the best workers on the card. But what set this match apart from others was how bitter the rivalry had become. Punk’s holier-than-thou character had chipped away at Hardy’s less-than-stellar reputation for weeks. This created a hatred that put more emphasis on everything they did to one another. It was a feud that complimented everything that took place on that night.
CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio (Over the Limit 2010)
CM Punk and Rey Mysterio’s feud was one of the more underrated of 2010. It featured the most sinister version of Punk that the world had seen. His rendition of Happy Birthday to Mysterio’s Daughter was haunting and pushed him to the upper echelon of heels in the company.
Every match, during their feud, was great, but it was the penultimate contest that put the cherry on top. By Over the Limit, the two men had established great chemistry in the ring and used that to tell a great story. Mysterio’s need to avoid being a member of the Straight Edge Society drove him and let’s face it, who didn’t like seeing CM Punk get his head shaved?
Money in the Bank Match (WrestleMania 25)
Money in the Bank was always a highlight of the WrestleMania card. The action was furious and it always included a bump, or two, that brought the fans out of their seats. It was also a match where careers took off, and at Wrestlemania 25 it was CM Punk’s turn.
Sure, Punk won the match the year prior, but it resulted in a lackluster title run that saw him fall back down the card as soon as he lost the championship. This was the match that propelled him to the top. It was the match that led to his fantastic heel run and showed what he could bring to the table. It also was a stacked Money in the Bank match so another plus for Punk going over that lineup.
CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan (WWE Championship Match at Over the Limit 2012)
CM Punk and Daniel Bryan were some of the most notable and early indie darlings of WWE. They were big names before entering the company and were fan favorites, against company wishes. It was amazing that they were able to reach the heights they did. One of the biggest reasons they did was their ability to put on fantastic matches, especially against one another.
At Over the Limit Punk and Bryan put on a clinic. On a night that was purely about sports entertainment, those two men showed what wrestling could be. It was a contrast to many WWE matches but a contrast that drew the fans to them. They put on a great wrestling match that should have been the benchmark for everyone else. It was a Ring of Honor match that took place in WWE.
CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho (Chicago Street Fight for the WWE Championship at Extreme Rules 2013)
CM Punk and Chris Jericho could do no wrong in 2013. They may have been put down the card in favor of other wrestlers but that didn’t stop them from putting on great matches and compelling television. The best of which was their promos leading to, and their match at Extreme Rules.
A street fight is always going to be entertaining but having these two men in it made it great. They mixed wrestling with brawling in a way that no one got tired of either. They also worked Punk’s family, and straight-edge lifestyle, into the match which added another layer of intensity to the proceedings. Punk and Jericho deserved a better spot on the card, but it was not lost on the raucous Chicago crowd who were treated to a great match.
CM Punk vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania 29)
After having his chance at the main event thwarted, Punk decided to take a shot at history at WrestleMania 29. The Second City Saint set his sights on toppling the Undertaker’s legendary WresteMania undefeated streak. It was a massive hill to climb that Punk immediately made harder by involving the recently deceased Paul Bearer in promos leading up to the match.
This match was one of the best of both Punk and Taker’s career. Under the bright lights of MetLife, the two men stole the show. The Undertaker was still agile enough to match Punk’s speed and Punk showed a rare brutality that had us all thinking the streak was in jeopardy. It was a match that shouldn’t have taken place, Punk should have been in the main event, but one we are all glad did.
CM Punk vs. John Cena (Monday Night Raw 02/25/2013)
The feud between CM Punk and John Cena was a defining moment for both men. It blurred the line between fiction and reality masterfully. Their promo battles were legendary, and they produced gold anytime they were in the ring.
Of course, there will be a section on their defining match later, but one that doesn’t get the attention was their #1 contenders match that took place on Raw. This match featured a more natural heel/babyface dynamic. It was a contrast from their match two years prior and it has a fresh look to it. Naturally, both men were fantastic during the match, even going as far as delivering a piledriver that stunned the crowd.
Cena going over in this match was a forgone conclusion, what with his Twice in a Lifetime match on the horizon. Still, that didn’t detract from the two best-of-a-generation putting on a classic.
CM Punk vs. John Cena (Money in the Bank 2011)
After his history-making ‘Pipe Bomb’ promo, CM Punk was the hottest act in wrestling. He was the antihero that the crowd wanted, and it was perfect to pair him with WWE’s Golden Boy. With Punk’s contract status up in the air, there was some serious thought that he could leave the company as WWE Champion, adding more intrigue to the contest.
This match will go down as one of the greatest in WWE history. It got near-perfect ratings from just about every prominent report on the sport. It was a drama-fueled match that included some of the best wrestling of either man’s career. With the title hanging in the balance, both men traded near-fall after near-fall, each keeping the fans guessing who was going to walk away the champ. In the end, Punk came out the victor and left WWE in limbo, for the first time in history the WWE Champion walked out on the company.
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