From the moment C.M. Punk debuted on WWE television from the Hammerstein Ballroom in a match against ECW Original Justin Credible, he fought an uphill battle to become a top guy in WWE. Heck Punk even survived the awful Extreme Elimination Chamber Match at December to Dismember. From there Punk had to go against Vince and become the key cog in the New Breed vs. ECW Originals feud. Punk would eventually side with the originals. After Chris Benoit flipped out Punk would lose a chance to become ECW Champion to John Morrison at Night of Champions 2007. Punk would eventually claim the title against John Morrison later in the year and be sentenced to feud with Chavo Guerrero.
Then at Wrestlemania 24 in Orlando, CM Punk would win his first of 2 consecutive Money in the Bank titles. His first cash in victim would be the “ultimate opportunist” Edge. Punk had the title for two and a half months and nobody cared when he lost, to Chris Jericho at Unforgiven. The next CM Punk cash in victim was the soon to be departing Jeff Hardy. Punk defeated Hardy in an excellent ladder match at Summer Slam in 2009. The win over Hardy put Punk’s Straight Edge Society into full steam, and again nobody cared about that. A few short months after winning the title Punk was beaten rather easily, by The Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match at the pay per view of the same name. After his defeat Punk continued to dabble in his Straight Edge Society, until the program ended in late 2010. Punk would be drafted back to the “A” show, and still nobody cared about CM Punk, when he went on the shelf with a hip injury.
Punk would come back to WWE Television, as an announcer on Monday Night Raw. Now Punk was headed in the same direction as Macho Man Randy Savage. His days as an announcer were short lived, as Punk was revealed as the leader of the New Nexus. Punk flopped and the new leader of the group, but what did Punk really have to work with? John Cena killed the original Nexus, and all Punk could do was bring in Mason Ryan and lose to Randy Orton at Wrestlemania 27. The New Nexus perished and nobody cared. Then CM Punk left a pipe bomb on Monday Night Raw.
The pipe bomb dropped by Punk on Monday Night Raw, urged every wrestling fan to like CM Punk. Especially those of us, who lived through the “Attitude Era” that CM Punk was a brash character that we could have cheered for during the glory days of wrestling. The man with the ECW look, stuck in the PG era with John “Pretty Boy” Cena. Most of us wrestling fans are the underdogs, with the anti John Cena look. Most people that look like Cena are not wrestling fans. At Money in the Bank in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois Punk pulled off the unthinkable and beat Cena, in an environment similar to that of The Hammerstein Ballroom in 2005 when RVD pulled off the win, also with the help of Paul Heyman. Punk would be our champion, but for how long?
After CM Punk ran into the crowd at the Rosemont Horizon, to be embraced by his hometown fans, it was unclear what would happen with the title. Punk returned to Raw after a one week absence. Then Punk would lose the title on Money in the Bank cash in by Alberto Del Rio at Summer Slam. Then Punk would fight against HHH, in a meaningless match and lose! Talk about bad booking, it seemed like we had lost our hero, again. Next for Punk was Survivor Series at the Garden, the Mecca of wrestling and a championship match against Alberto Del Rio. The match was not given top billing, a sign of things to come for Punk. In a mid card match Punk would win the title, only to be out shined by the returning Rocky Maivia. Punk had won the WWE Title and the only thing anybody cared about was The Rock.
Over the next 434 days Punk would hold the title, and not be place in the main event, except for the rare occasion. Over his reign punk would switch from face to heel, after he laid out The Rock at Raw 1000 in Saint Louis, Punk would revert to a heel. After turning heel, Punk would face challenges, from John Cena and the fast charging Ryback (nice guy, but that is for a later day) whom Punk defeated on several occasions, with the help of outside interference. Next up for Punk was, the Royal Rumble in Phoenix, when Punk would be defeated by The Rock. The same man who had only wrestled 2 times prior to gaining his WWE Title. Punk held the WWE Title for 434 days, and all anybody talked about was The Rock. Punk and his title reign only mattered to the true wrestling fans.
Next was the breaking point for CM Punk losing his spot at Wrestlemania, to Batista? Add to that, the speculation of having to wrestle HHH at the aforementioned show that forced Punk out of the WWE ring. Since February WWE fans have been relentlessly cheering for CM Punk, when there is something, they dislike about the current product. Maybe if we had appreciated Punk more, while he was still on the roster, we could let Phil Brooks live the rest of his life in peace with AJ Lee.
- Kaleb Huffman, Find me on Twitter @K_Huff85