The Week of Punk – CM Punk’s Top 10
Hey guys, this is Scott here, one half of the Elektrify Wrestling Podcast and I am here to start something new. We want to continue to bring you more and more content week after week, so this is where I feel we should begin. This is the beginning of a weekly blog discussing various topics in the wrestling world, from past, present, and even the future. So, I thought it would be a brilliant idea to start with my favorite wrestler of all time, CM Punk.
If you are a wrestling fan or an MMA fan, there is a fair chance that you know who CM Punk is. And if you are either fan, you know this is essentially the week of Punk. Winning his court case against WWE Doctor and Z-Pack enthusiast Dr. Chris Amann, while also getting set to have his second UFC fight against Mike Jackson in his hometown of Chicago. It is one of the biggest weeks in Punk’s life, maybe the most important. The Best in the World looks to not only become another Pro Wrestler to succeed in another line of work, like Brock Lesnar, John Cena, and The Rock. But most importantly, he wants to prove all the doubters wrong and win a UFC bout which no one believes he can at all.
So, as the week proceeds towards the biggest moment of his MMA career, my favorite pro wrestler to ever compete inside the squared circle, I feel it is a good time to give my top 10 of CM Punk’s greatest moments in wrestling. Quite possibly the greatest “indie star” to ever do it, or at least the one who paved the way for so many others to do what they do now in the WWE. Punk has so many accolades, unforgettable moments that transcended wrestling today, while being quite possible the biggest story in wrestling for the past 10 years. From being the OG indie guy, to being the longest reigning WWE Champion in the Modern Era, to walking out of the WWE while a key player in the system. It is surely a career that can never be forgotten, and one that should be appreciated. Many fans have now soured on Punk due to him walking out, or for fans chanting “CM PUNK” every time a McMahon enters the arena, or they get bored with something during the show.
I am here to look at the positives however, so let us do that. Here is my opinion of the Top 10 Greatest Moments in the history of CM Punk’s storied wrestling career:
- Best in the World vs Best in the World (2012) – CM Punk vs Chris Jericho
A feud that began with a simple vignette saying, “it will be the end of the world as we know it”. And from there, the best rivalry of Punk’s 434-day WWE Championship reign began. After taking time away from the company, Jericho and his famous light up jacket made a fabulous return, and all eyes were clearly set towards a feud between “The Best in the World” and “The Best in the World at everything I do”. A feud that brought us a series of matches between the hottest, most over professional wrestler in the world at that time and a legend like Chris Jericho. All beginning at the Elimination Chamber, where Punk kicked Jericho out of the Chamber and eliminated him. This would begin a series of matches, including the best match of Wrestlemania 28. Punk and Jericho had a bout for the biggest title in the entire company that continues to hold up until this day. This match was overshadowed by the “Once in a Lifetime” match that did not live up to all the hype. This rivalry had multiple occurrences of great promo work including CM Punk’s family and well, CM Punk doing some of his finest work on the mic. It all concluded in the Chicago Street Fight at Extreme Rules where the men put each other through a war. This match was absolutely excellent, and more so just extremely fun to watch. This would end such a great feud, and one that I truly remembered for Punk’s career. It not only brought Punk’s grandest Mania match to this date, but the best feud of Punk’s 434-day reign.
- A God vs A Deadman (Wrestlemania 29, 2013) – CM Punk vs The Undertaker
At the Royal Rumble in 2013, CM Punk lost his first PPV match in over a year when he lost the WWE Championship to The Rock, ending his 434-day reign, and leaving Punk without direction for the first time in over a year. All the dirt sheets began to think of ideas for Punk, thinking he could be added to the second edition of “Once in a Lifetime”. But truthfully, as a Punk fan, you didn’t want to see him play third fiddle to those two guys, you wanted to see Punk in a singles match, doing what he does best. Then came the brilliant idea of pitting the Undertaker, who was 20-0 at the time at Wrestlemania, against the Second City Saint himself, CM Punk. This rivalry became one that was short lived, but exciting nonetheless. It felt it had been years since someone actually got physical with Undertaker before their meeting at Mania. However, this feud was one that was physical and mental from the start. Through Punk’s ability on the mic to factor in the passing of Paul Bearer, who passed away on March 5th, 2013, they acted as if the Undertaker possessed the ashes of his fallen friend, and kayfabe father. This is when it may have picked up the most, as on an episode of RAW, it is impossible to forget the vision of Punk beating up Undertaker and dumping out Paul Bearer’s “ashes” all over Undertaker and wiping them on himself. This match eventually had a legitimate meaning behind it, giving a heel CM Punk who viewed himself as a God, who was also possessing the Urn, against the Phenom who at times you actually didn’t know if he would win or not. This brought a bout at Mania that could and probably will be CM Punk’s last Wrestlemania match ever, and it probably should have been the main event. But I will go one step further, this will more than likely go down as Undertaker’s last classic bout that will be watched for years. And while of course Undertaker won, this was a memorable feud and huge for Punk’s career, and a bigger nod to know that Undertaker requested to work with Chicago’s favorite son.
- The Straight Edge Savior vs The Fan-Favorite Enigma (Summer 2009) – CM Punk vs Jeff Hardy
While 2011 may have been CM Punk’s year, 2008 into the end of 2009 was absolutely Jeff Hardy’s. Hardy was the hottest act in all of professional wrestling during this time, and it wasn’t even close. He won his first major championship in late 2008 at Armageddon, winning the WWE Championship, while losing it just a month after, leaving the fans wanting even more. The story of Hardy was incredible, as it featured him chasing the World Heavyweight Championship most of that year. Hardy would beat Edge in a ladder match at the Extreme Rules PPV, and it felt like Hardy would finally have the championship reign that so many had hoped for. But this was the beginning of something so much bigger. You can see Hardy celebrating in the ring, the fans embracing him, finally seeing the fan favorite win this match. “This Fire Bruns” hits over the speakers and there was an ultimate worry and groan when CM Punk was on his way out to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase. And this 1-minute cash in was so great, because you could see the frustration on Punk’s face when Hardy managed to kick out of the first GTS. You could see something was changing in Punk, a guy who never really was anything but babyface up to this point. Punk continued to throw ultimate frustration when he almost got rolled up for the three counts. And finally, Punk hits the final GTS to win it. And the expression on Punk’s face showed something different. This cash in would lead to multiple matches between the two, including multiple times of switching the championship over various PPVs. At Summerslam, they had a memorable TLC match which resulted in a win for Punk, finishing the series of great championship matches. On an episode of Smackdown on August 28th, 2009, a steel cage match between the two would finish the rivalry once and for all. Punk would win, ridding the WWE of Hardy for years to come. It was not until 2017 people would see him again, and by storyline, it was because of CM Punk. This was easily Punk’s best feud before his “Best in the World” persona, and the only one that may beat it is his rivalry with John Cena. But this rivalry was as real as it got, as after Jeff left, Punk continued to discuss Hardy’s off-tv problems, causing problems in real life between them as well. This feud should be more appreciated, as it was some of the best TV during that year.
- The Cult of Personality – The Return of CM Punk (RAW 07/25/11)
The act that everyone wanted during 2011 was CM Punk. This was just coming off Punk winning the WWE Championship at Money in the Bank and taking it to his home in Chicago to never be seen again. This would result in a WWE Championship tournament that would conclude on the July 25th episode of Monday Night RAW. The main event would come between the newly crowned WWE Champion, Rey Mysterio, and the former Champion before Punk, John Cena. Cena would eventually win the match, and as the show looked like it would be going off with Cena as the new WWE Champion, a sound hit. Music going, no one knowing what is going on, and then the crowd erupted. It was the return of the Straight Edge, opinionated, true WWE Champion, CM Punk. It was as if the fans their that night didn’t even remember someone else won the Championship, and this would mark the beginning of Punk forever being known as the “Cult of Personality”. Punk’s return was a big moment, because this started the idea of him being the number two man in the entire company.
- The Voice of the Voice of the Voiceless – Punk and Heyman (RAW 09/03/12)
At RAW 1000, CM Punk took a turn from the character that he had got over so much for so long. Punk once again was a heel when he watched Cena get beat up by Big Show and took out The Rock who was making the save. For weeks and weeks and weeks, all CM Punk asked for was respect. All he wanted was RESPECT. He beat the lights out of Jerry Lawler in a steel cage match and was on a road to once again enter a rivalry with John Cena. On the September 3rd episode of RAW in Chicago, Illinois, CM Punk was removed from the arena when he attacked Jerry Lawler just asking for his respect. Later on in sed episode, John Cena and Alberto Del Rio would enter in a “Falls Count Anywhere” match where they were seen in the backstage area, Cena hitting an AA on to the crates, but CM Punk reappears, kicking off Cena’s head, winning Del Rio the match. Punk would hit a GTS to Cena on to the car that he arrived in, muddling the word “Respect” to a beat-up John Cena. And as they drive away, they pause for a second, a window opens from the car, and it was Paul Heyman. CM Punk was finally allowed to be a Paul Heyman Guy on screen, and while he did not need a mouthpiece, it added a completely different element to his heel persona that resulted in many memorable segments, promos, and eventually a rivalry between the two. It was a match made in heaven.
- “My Name is CM Punk” – CM Punk’s WWE Debut (ECW 08/01/06)
For so long in the WWE, you truly made it if you were part of WWE for a long time. If you went through OVW and was simply a “WWE guy”. Well, if you didn’t know, CM Punk was in no way a “WWE guy”. For a long time, he and Samoa Joe were the mainstays in Ring of Honor, building that brand from the ground up. However, as time went on, WWE started to realize there may be more to wrestling than just the guys they handpicked. The wrestlers who made a living on the independent scene were good enough, if not better than, to be apart of the WWE. Enter CM Punk. When you really look back in history, a lot of wrestlers wrestled independent matches, but not for a long time or on the scale of something like Ring of Honor. And when Punk was finally signed by the empire known as WWE, he became the first legitimate “indy wrestler” to finally make it. And to make that official, his debut on WWE TV through the revitalized ECW brand, Punk was finally here. The quote of “My Name is CM Punk” will never truly be forgotten, as it was truly the beginning of a guy who always was viewed as a star by the fans. The unique look, all the tattoos, the ability on the mic, the ability in the ring, and the eventual “Best in the World” all started here. Greeted by the fans at the home of ECW, Punk would go on to win his first ever match against Justin Credible with the Anaconda Vice on the August 1st episode of ECW. This was the beginning of a career that no one could ever imagine.
- Mr. Money in the Bank – Money in the Bank victory at WM24 / Cash-In on RAW (06/30/08)
There is a moment in every WWE main eventers career where they feel they finally “made it”. For Batista, it was winning the Royal Rumble, for John Cena it was beating JBL for the WWE Championship. But since 2005, many stars have “made it” by winning the Money in the Bank briefcase and cashing in to become a world champion. It started with the first winner, Edge, who went on to win the case and the WWE Championship. And the same would work for CM Punk, as he would win the Money in the Bank match at Wrestlemania 24. It was shocking, the crowd roared. Punk described in his DVD how he felt he finally did it, but he was at the point of “now what?” Punk would then cash in on Edge to become the World Heavyweight Champion after Batista brutalized him on RAW that night. Punk finally became a world champion in such a big company. Unfortunately, his championship run ended prematurely when, as Punk described, “they didn’t feel he was ready”. He wasn’t ever “their guy”. It took them forever to really believe in him, but this was still a sign that he impressed some of the upper management to even get the opportunity. This was a gigantic step for Punk, it began the idea that he was a main event player.
- 434 – The Longest WWE Championship Reign in the Modern Era (Survivor Series 2011-Royal Rumble 2013)
A championship run that no one could ever imagine. 434 days of CM Punk being on the top of the WWE. This was when there was really one championship that mattered, while the World Heavyweight Championship was casted aside. The WWE Championship, the biggest championship in the entire WWE and possibly all professional wrestling. CM Punk held this championship for 434 as the biggest face and biggest heel in the company. Sure, Cena was the face that got everything given to him, but when Punk was a babyface, no one was getting louder reactions from the fans. And it all started at Survivor Series 2012 when Punk beat Alberto Del Rio for the championship. Can still remember to this day, Punk jumping into the crowd with the championship in hand. And this brought on a title reign with multiple contenders, and even more failures. From Dolph Ziggler at the rumble in 2012, to Jericho at Mania, all the way to the streak ending at the Royal Rumble in 2013 to The Rock. And while it was automatic that they were going to have Punk lose to The Rock, the way they did so still upsets me. They sell it as Punk actually winning the match, to restarting it and having him lose to the stupid People’s Elbow. A lot of Punk’s reign was overshadowed unfortunately by either Brock Lesnar or John Cena, but every time Punk went out there, he made that title feel special, he did everything he could to be the must-see part of any RAW or PPV. No matter how long Brock keeps that Universal Championship, it does not even come close to the legitimacy and the amount of excitement Punk’s held every single match.
- Chicago Made Punk – CM Punk beats John Cena for the WWE Championship in Chicago, leaves WWE (Money in the Bank 07/17/11)
The greatest entrance pop that I had ever watched live in my life came in Chicago at Money in the Bank 2011 when CM Punk was the number one contender for the WWE Championship and was threatening to take the championship and leave WWE for good. The roar that occurred when Punk’s music hit was absolutely ear piercing, amazing, and exciting. The special t-shirt that he had made for that night, with the date written on it, and it says “BEST IN THE WORLD” and “7.17.11” on the back. It was a magical night in wrestling history, that one will never forget. And as loud as the cheers were for Punk, the boos came roaring in for Cena just as loud. You could tell has special it was, the way both Punk and Cena played their parts. Cena walking directly down to the ring, no smiling, no playing to the crowd, his belt just wrapped around his waist and on a mission to get to that ring. It was a masterpiece of a match. Every AA that was hit and kicked out of, the crowd somehow just grew louder and louder. Punk putting his body on the line to win this match. Multiple signs of “If Punk loses, we riot”. This match was a perfectly told story, all the way to the point where Punk hits a GTS and Cena falls out to the floor. There is a reason Meltzer gave this match 5 stars. All the way to Vince and Laurinaitis heading out there to try and “screw” Punk, Cena stopping them, running back into the ring to eat a GTS and take the WWE Championship away from the WWE and Vince McMahon. The celebration that was occurring was wonderful, when Vince calls down Del Rio to come and cash in his money in the bank briefcase, to Punk kicking him in the head and running out through the crowd. But before that, blowing a kiss to Vince McMahon as he leaves through the Chicago faithful (image above). It’s the image you never really forget as a wrestling fan, and it was just such a perfect moment in wrestling history and in Punk’s career.
- Pipebomb (RAW 06/27/11)
When I was making this list, it was hard to do the 3-10 for CM Punk’s wrestling career. But when you think about it, within the same month, Punk had his two greatest moments in his career. And before the hometown hero win for Punk that will never be forgotten, came the moment in RAW history that WWE had ranked two in its all-time moments. The forever remembered, “Pipebomb”. Everything from when Punk appeared on the TV screen in that Stone Cold Steve Austin t-shirt, sitting crisscrossed at the top of the ramp with a microphone in his hand. This was the birth of CM Punk being known as the “Best in the World” in such a memorable quote. From Punk saying “I’ve been the best ever since Day One when I walked into this company, and I’ve been vilified and hated since that day because Paul Heyman saw something in me that nobody else wanted to admit. That’s right, I’m a Paul Heyman guy” to the point of him saying “I’m not on Conan O’Brian, I’m not on Jimmy Fallon, but the fact of the matter is I should be, and trust me, this isn’t sour grapes, but the fact that “Dwayne” is in the main event of WrestleMania next year and I’m not makes me sick!” Everything in this promo, just reading the words, makes you feel the words he was saying. It was his true feelings coming through the microphoning and in to our homes. From threatening to go back to Ring of Honor, breaking the fourth wall, waving to his friend Colt Cabana, to say the company may be better off with Vince McMahon dead. And to the final part of his microphone being silenced, him standing up and yelling that he cannot truly be silenced, and the show ends. It was a moment in time where everything in wrestling felt as real as it ever could. And that was simply CM Punk’s greatest moment. Why? Because it will never be forgotten.
I hope you all have enjoyed reading about Punk’s career through my eyes and what I consider his greatest moments in his wrestling career. And after this, I am more than excited to see Punk’s return to the Octagon in front of his hometown crowd in Chicago. If you have any suggestions, thoughts, or just want to join in on the conversation of CM Punk, speaking his fight, his wrestling career, or really anything.
Other than that, thanks for reading, hope you read again next week and whatever really comes after.
Don’t forget to listen to the weekly Elektrify Wrestling Podcast as well.
Punk will be fighting at the top of the hour at 10 pm EST to try and earn his first ever UFC victory in Chicago.
Hope you enjoyed!