Posted by James Tee
Hello, and welcome back to the final part of my look at the life and career of Phillip Jack Brooks, better known as CM Punk. We are just hours away from Summerslam now, and Punk has the opportunity against Brock Lesnar to cement his legacy as one of the best of all time.
However, if you had said that Punk was on his way to being one of the all-time greats 2 and a half years ago, some may have laughed at that proclamation.
One Pipebomb changed everything for the Second City Saviour.
PART SEVEN – THE LONGEST REIGNING WWE CHAMPION OF THE MODERN ERA
When CM Punk delivered the Pipebomb on June 27th, 2011, with the world already knowing that his WWE contract was expiring after Money In The Bank, the landscape of the WWE changed for the foreseeable future. Never before had someone been given a mic to say what they wanted, and never before had someone created their own legacy in the space of five and a half minutes. The Pipebomb created a stir not seen in WWE for years, and made the WWE relevant in the sports media again. Punk ‘s honesty was refreshing, and proved that his promo work, whether shoot or work, was amongst the best ever seen inside a Wrestling ring.
On that night in Las Vegas, Punk went from an Upper Mid-Carder, who had flirted with being a Main Eventer, to becoming one of the biggest stars on the planet. However, it would all be for nothing if he couldn’t bring the goods in his home-town at the Money In The Bank PPV.
So the scene was set. Chicago’s AllState Arena would see one of most highly anticipated matches in recent years, and for the first-time in years, Kayfabe was blurred, and people wondered if Punk was actually going to leave the WWE with the WWE Championship.
In a match that was awarded the PWI Match of the Year honour, Punk appeared to leave the WWE, and he took the WWE Championship with him. The match and result made sports and entertainment news, with TMZ even covering Punk’s post match celebrations.
Cena had lost the title, but before Punk returned, Cena was back on top of the mountain. After Rey Mysterio had won a WWE Championship tournament, Cena immediately challenged the new champion to a match. Prior to the tournament, there were signs that Punk was still under a WWE contract. He appeared un-announced at the San Diego comic-con, mocking CEO Triple H, and challenging Mysterio to a match for Punk’s WWE title, so long as it was in Chicago.
After Cena won his title, Punk would make an immediate statement.
My Time Is Now was interrupted by a Cult of Personality.
Triple H validated the claims of both John Cena and CM Punk with regards to the WWE Championship, and a match was set up for Summerslam to determine the Undisputed champion. The match couldn’t live up to their previous bout in Chicago, but there was the same result. Punk defeated Cena, but that didn’t mean that he would walk out of The Staples Centre as the WWE Champion.
After the interference of Kevin Nash, Punk quickly lost his title. However, until Survivor Series, Punk was stuck in a far from memorable feud with The Game and Kevin Nash.
Survivor Series would come, and history would be made. After talking his way into a match with Del Rio, who was still champion, Survivor Series would be day one of 434.
After winning his first WWE Championship in front of his home fans, Punk won his second inside Madison Square Garden. Punk ended the year with a victory against Del Rio and The Miz in a Triple Threat TLC match.
As we now know, 2012 would be the year of CM Punk. He wouldn’t lose a title match all year, and would write his name into the history books as the longest reigning WWE champion of the past 25 years. His year would begin at the Royal Rumble, with new Raw GM John Laurinaitis aiming to dethrone the anti-establishment champion.
His pick to end the reign of Punk was Dolph Ziggler, who defeated Punk with the help of the GM to earn his right. In the lead up to the Royal Rumble, Laurinaitis would be a thorn in the side of the champion, even naming himself as the Special Guest Referee. Somehow, Punk came through the match, and moved onto the Elimination Chamber.
Despite being the first man in the ring, Punk outlasted Chris Jericho, The Miz, R-Truth, Kofi Kingston and Dolph Ziggler, to confirm his passage to Wrestlemania 28 as WWE Champion. His Wrestlemania feud was started during the Elimination Chamber. Punk eliminated Jericho by sending him out of the structure, leading Jericho to be deemed unable to continue.
The actions of Punk would set up one of the better Wrestlemania feuds in recent times. Jericho would use real-life aspects of Punk’s personal life, whilst trying to prove that Punk’s Straight Edge Lifestyle was fraudulent. In the end, the feud would last until the end of April, but not before one of the best WWE title matches seen at Wrestlemania.
With Punk winning, and the next PPV being Extreme Rules, it was set up perfectly to end the Punk-Jericho feud. With the PPV being held in Illinois, Punk’s home-state, the support for the champion would once again be ferocious. In a Chicago Street Fight, Punk emerged victorious, and headed into a feud every fan of Independent Wrestling had wanted to see for years.
Daniel Bryan had lost his World Heavyweight Championship in record quick time, and after losing his rematch against Shemus, won a Beat The Clock challenge to become number one contender for Punk’s title. The match at Over The Limit was a near 25 minute classic, which Punk won after reversing a Yes Lock into a pinning combination. It was after this match that AJ Lee became embroiled in the feud. After Daniel Bryan broke up with her, Lee started showing affections towards Punk, and also Kane.
Punk would defeat both Kane and Bryan at No Way Out, before ending his feud with Bryan at the Money In The Bank PPV, in a match where many believed Punk’s reign would come to an end.
That lead to Raw 1000, and a series of events that would shock the WWE Universe.
The heel turn was a highlight of the year, and was refreshing, as it opened up new feud possibilities for the champion. After successfully defending his title in a Triple Threat match against John Cena and The Big Show at Summerslam, Punk helped re-introduce Paul Heyman to WWE audiences.
Acting as Punk’s confidant and advisor, Heyman added a new dimension to Punk’s character, and after the support Heyman had offered Punk early in his WWE career, it also added a sense of realism. Punk would feud with Cena up until Hell in A Cell in October. Punk and Cena drew at Night of Champions, and were due to face off inside Hell in A Cell until Cena injured his arm.
In the end, Punk had a choice for his opponent at HIAC. an injured Cena or Ryback, who had been on a trail of destruction since his debut in April. With the champion refusing to choose, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon chose for him.
Punk would have to face Ryback. And it seemed at one point that the near year long reign of Punk would come to an end.
With Punk surviving by the skin of his teeth, he would have to face Ryback again. However, this was not before some strange WWE booking. Originally, he was due to captain a team against a team of Mick Foley’s choosing at Survivor Series. One week later, plans were changed, Punk was replaced by Dolph Ziggler and Punk was entered into a Triple Threat match against John Cena and Ryback.
The match was largely unforgettable until the introduction of a certain three man faction.
Once again, Punk scrambled away with his title. However, things were not good. Punk had been working hurt for months, and a torn meniscus required surgery. His injury however, saw Punk overtake John Cena’s record of being the longest reigning WWE Champion of the 21st Century. December 5th was day 381 for Punk.
Punk would not wrestle again until the first Raw of 2013, where he would face Ryback in the TLC match they were due to have at the TLC PPV in December. Once again, Punk retained, due to interference from The Shield, and that meant he would go to the Royal Rumble.
It would be Punk vs The Rock.
In an attempt to ensure a fair match, Punk was told that any interference would see him stripped of the WWE championship. So when the lights went out in the arena, and The Rock was laid out, it appeared the reign of Punk would be over. However, The Rock demanded the match be restarted, and eventually, The Brahma Bull won the WWE championship, his first in 11 years.
After 434 days, the reign of Punk was over.
After an unsuccessful rematch at the Elimination Chamber, Punk turned his attention to making more history.
On March 4th, Punk proclaimed that he would end The Streak of The Undertaker. After defeating Big Show, Randy Orton and Sheamus in a match to determine The Undertaker’s opponent, Punk set about playing mind games with the Deadman. After the death of Paul Bearer, Punk started using Bearer’s memory to try and get inside the head of the Undertaker.
It all led to a match that once again, was superb. Despite the best efforts of Punk, The Undertaker moved to 21-0. Two weeks later on Raw, Punk gave a promo where he talked about his challenge, and his title reign, before leaving the arena.
After a comeback match in Chicago against Chris Jericho at Payback, Punk is now focusing on a match with Brock Lesnar tonight at Summerslam.
It will be the latest in a long line of high profile matches for a man who started out wrestling in his own backyard.
During his career, he has achieved the following:
3x WWE World Heavyweight Champion
2x WWE Champion
1x ECW Champion
1x World Tag Team Champion
1x Intercontinental Champion
Fastest Triple Crown Winner In WWE History
2x Money In The Bank Winner
2x PWI Wrestler of The Year (2011, 2012)
1x ROH World Champion
#1 In 2012 PWI Top 500
Longest Reigning WWE Champion of the Past 25 years.
The career of Punk will go on for as long as he wants, and until then, he will be the Best In The World.
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