The name has slowly but surely made become synonymous with what internet fans love most about professional wrestling. A man who is a fantastic wrestler, and can have the match of the night with anybody. He’s also arguably the best there is on the mic, and can keep people on the edge of their seats with his promos. He is exactly what he says he is, and that’s the “best in the world”.
Punk has been the champ for over 8 months now, and was extremely over as a face, rivaling even John Cena. However, on the 1000th RAW, he shocked the world when he abandoned Cena and jumped The Rock, effectively turning heel. After the sense of shock wore off, many experienced great joy. The reason? They, like me, know that as good of a face Punk is, he is an even greater heel. The potential of what this could lead to could be an article in and of itself. Does he continue a one-man war against the status quo of WWE? Does he form a heel faction with other ROH newcomers that are already in WWE? Is Kevin Nash right, and he reforms the NWO? Endless possibilities abound!
Now for those of you who are new to wrestling and don’t know how great a heel CM Punk is, then let’s got on a little trip.
#5 The Summer of Punk
Before WWE, Punk was the top dog in Ring of Honor, one of the biggest indy feds out there. Guys like Antonio Caesaro, Kassius Ohno, and Dean Ambrose all got their start thanks to ROH. To say Punk was a big deal is an understatement. Most have said in interviews that what Triple H is to WWE, Punk was to ROH. This rumor makes sense, because its the only explanation for him getting the go ahead for this angle.
Punk was signed to WWE in June 2005. ROH scheduled in what was supposed to be his farewell match against their World Champion Austin Aires for the belt. To the shock of everyone, Punk won the match and the belt. He then took the mic, and ripped on the audience and told the world he was going to bring the title to Vince McMahon himself. The entire summer of 2005 was this epic storyline of ROH contenders trying to defeat Punk and win the title back before he he left for WWE. Not that Punk made it any easier, as he would often not wrestle to make sure he kept the belt.
The promo where Punk turned after defeating Austin Aires for the belt. Interesting to note that Punk was using the term “Pipe Bomb” even back then.
I have to give a special mention to Punk’s last (scheduled) match, his farewell match against his real life best friend Colt Cabana. To say this was an emotional match is a vast understatement. Punk was crying even during his entrance. A great match and a beautiful farewell to a great wrestler.
#4 Leader of the Nexus
Nexus was a surprise stable that was comprised of rookies from the first and later the second NXT. The group was pretty awesome, as you bought into the rookies’ frustrations of getting over the popular faces of the company. It was a hot angle that went though most of the summer and fall of 2010. But after Cena beat up the whole group for the millionth time, they lost a lot of steam. Not wanting to lose the group just yet, they decided to get the group a new leader with a lot more star power. Enter CM Punk.
CM Punk took over, and the group garnered some success. David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty won the tag team titles and held them for 3 months, and they got a new enforcer in Mason Ryan. However, it was pretty obvious that Punk was just using the young group to further his own agenda – first with John Cena, and finally with revenge on Randy Orton. Once again, Punk played the cult leader to perfection as the New Nexus followed every word Punk said, believing it would lead them to glory, but it only led to their downfall.
Got to give it to the reveal. No one saw this moment coming, but when it did, it made perfect sense. One of the moments were no words had to be said for you to get the picture.
CM Punk’s one-on-one with Randy Orton at Wrestlemania XXVII. Definitely the match of the night.
#3 The Straight Edge Society
The Straight Edge Society was a fun stable that lasted a little over a year. Actually, calling it a cult would be more accurate. Punk would gain “followers” such as Luke Gallows, Serena, and Joey Mercury after saving them from a life of drugs and alcohol. The crew helped Punk win matches and assist in the intimidation factor. The group had a very memorable feud with Rey Mysterio that spanned 3 PPVs, including Wrestlemania XXVI. They then had a feud with Big Show that ruined the group’s credit, given how easily he handled them. He even beat the whole group by himself at Summerslam 2010. Shortly after the feud, the group disbanded.
CM Punk himself was a big believer in the group, especially most of its members. The fact WWE didn’t do much with with the group was one of the big reasons that Punk almost left. But what we got with them was good, especially the Rey feud (a feud that Punk will go over in his DVD). Just a shame we didn’t get much else after that.
You want an idea how much of a merciless bastard Punk can be, watch him crash Rey Mysterio’s birthday party for his nine-year daughter Aalyah. Punk crosses the line multiple times here as he embarrasses Rey and his family, while Rey can’t do anything out of fear for his family’s safety. Special props go to Rey’s (at the time) nine year old Aalyah, who turns out to be a child actress, who does a great job here.
Punk gives Big Show the business.
#2 CM Punk Lets His Contract Expire and Takes the WWE Title with Him
A lot of people forget that Punk was a heel when all this went down.
It was June 2010. Punk had just won a number one contender’s match and earned a WWE Title match for Money in the Bank 2011. He then took the mic to give us some honesty. At midnight on the day of Money in the Bank, his contract with WWE was going to expire. He was not going to re-sign, but he was planning on taking the WWE title with him.
If this was the only thing Punk said, that would have been the end of it. Punk probably would have left, and WWE would be down an amazing talent. However, he did cut another promo. He cut a promo on June 27, 2012 to close out the show that would go down as the most memorable and groundbreaking promos of recent memory, if not ever.
To say Punk spoke his mind is an understatement. Punk shot on not only Cena, but Vince, HHH, Stephanie, and everything WWE. This was no longer a simple one-and-done match. Why let Punk cut a promo like that if Punk was to leave? Plus, with MitB in Chicago, would Punk go down willingly in his own hometown? So many questions sprung up if you were a wrestling fan, you had to see Money in the Bank, because you had to know what would happen. It was great TV, and I haven’t seen a moment like this since.
Then the match came on, and it easily was the best match of 2011. The atmosphere with the crowd was surreal, as they were all behind Punk. After an intense back and forth, Punk shocked the world and beat Cena for the title. Around this time, we all expected the RAW MitB winner to run out, and he did, but only to be knocked out by Punk with one kick. After that, Punk ran out of the arena with the title. Punk had just beaten the WWE itself.
Aside from that promo, it has to be the match between CM Punk and John Cena at MitB. One of the most memorable matches ever; you owe it to yourself to go and watch it. Go ahead, check it out, and then come back. That way you see a great match, and I get two hits from one guy. Win-win.
Punk’s live contract negotiation with Vince McMahon was as hilarious as it was memorable.
1# The Jeff Hardy Feud
A lot of people will be surprised by this one, but this feud was incredible.
Jeff Hardy for a time was the most popular wrestler in WWE. He still would be had it not been for one flaw: he was/is a druggie. For example, he was all set to win The Money in the Bank Ladder match at Wrestlemania XXIV. That is until he failed a wellness test, got suspended, and was removed from the match (Fun Fact: As a result of this, they decide to give the nod to CM Punk). It’s a shame, but one really has to wonder where he’d be right now if he wasn’t a screw-up. Despite this, the fact of the matter was he was incredibly over, and after chasing the belt through most of 2009, he finally won the title. After winning a vicious ladder match with Edge, CM Punk shocked the world by cashing his Money in the Bank briefcase to win his second World Title.
The cash-in did two things. It effectively turned the long time face Punk into a heel (simply due to Hardy being more popular), and it started a feud that would last the entire summer. The feud itself was very surreal. See, Punk never did anything really evil or heel-like. Yes, he cashed in on a weakened Hardy, but as he pointed out, that’s what you’re supposed to do with the MitB briefcase. There was also controversy when Punk hit a ref, seemingly to keep his title due to a fake eye issue, but he revealed that a doctor did in fact treat his eye. So Punk was never really bad.
Punk broke the fourth wall with this feud, as he attacked Jeff for being a known drug user, and the fans for cheering him and okaying it. Jeff and the fans never had an answer for this. For the first time in recent memory, the heel was completely in the right. Not that it mattered: Punk still got boo’ed. The end came when Punk beat Hardy in a “loser leaves the WWE match,” banishing Hardy from WWE. It took years for fans to forgive Punk for this one. It was the most evil thing Punk has done as a heel and something he has yet to top…yet.
As far as heel moves, this was the equivalent of stabbing someone, twisting the knife, and throwing salt on the wound. The following week after ending Jeff Hardy’s career in the WWE, Hardy’s music hit, and the crowd erupts thinking it was Jeff. However, out came out Punk dressed as Hardy to rub it in that their hero was gone from the company. The reaction from the people in the crowd is priceless!
This was a promo that started few weeks into the feud. CM Punk is relentless here and points everything from Jeff’s past with drugs, how many strikes he has, and even how pathetic it is that he hasn’t gone to rehab. It’s essentially this feud in a nutshell.