A RETROSPECTIVE : THE SUMMER OF PUNK
Article written by Dylan Devine (4/20/21)
Seven years after walking out of the WWE, CM Punk is still one of the most talked about wrestlers in the world. He is still widely regarded as one of the best to ever do it, and his run in the company was unforgettable to say the least. In 2011 after a brief stint being the leader of the stable “The Nexus”, Punk began moving up the rankings and was close to obtaining a shot at the WWE Championship. In June he defeated John Cena along with Alberto Del Rio on another occasion which led to him becoming number one contender for the WWE Championship.
John Cena was the champion during this time. Punk and Cena were set to have a title match at the 2011 Money in the Bank PPV. A big part of the storyline between Punk and Cena was that Punk’s contract was set to expire the night of the PPV and he said he would be leaving the company. That being said, knowing he was planning on leaving the company Punk was in the mindset that he had nothing left to lose. On the June 27th, 2011 edition of Monday Night Raw Punk interfered in the main event match between John Cena and R-Truth. After his interference, he went to the top of the stage and sat down with a microphone. He delivered what we all know now as one of the most known promos in WWE history, the pipebomb. During this unscripted promo, Punk went off on the WWE, management, talked about Hulk Hogan and The Rock kissing Vince McMahon’s ass to get to the top, and said he hated the idea that the WWE considers John Cena the best in the company because Punk believed he was the best. He spoke his mind and said things that fans were thinking for years.
Following the pipebomb, the storyline between Cena and Punk continued with Mr. McMahon getting involved. McMahon would weekly try to get Punk to sign a new contract and re-sign with the WWE before Money in the Bank, but Punk refused. Punk quickly became the most popular guy in the company. He was the voice of the people. Going into Money in the Bank which was coincidently being held in Punk’s hometown of Chicago, he was more over than he ever had been.
The Money in the Bank PPV finally rolled around and the long awaited match for the WWE Championship between Cena and Punk was happening. Punk came out to one of the loudest hometown reactions of all time with Cena getting booed out of the building when he made his entrance. The two went on to have one of the greatest wrestling matches of all time and Punk came out on top. He did the unthinkable and was walking out of the WWE as their number one guy, WWE Champion. What was he going to do next? This was the hottest storyline in wrestling at the time. Nobody knew what the future held for Punk or for the WWE Championship. On the July 25th, 2011 edition of Monday Night Raw we saw a finals tournament to crown the new WWE Champion. John Cena ended up winning the tournament in the main event and after celebrating for a few minutes a new unfamiliar theme song began playing. The theme song was “Cult of Personality” by Living Colour. Nobody knew who was coming out but it ended up being CM Punk with his WWE title. He made his way to the ring and Raw went off the air with Cena and Punk facing off with the both of them each holding a WWE Championship title.
A unification title match was set for SummerSlam between Cena and Punk. Punk defeated Cena once again and retained his WWE Championship, but a returning Kevin Nash rushed the ring from the crowd and attacked Punk. Alberto Del Rio then ran out to the ring and cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase on Punk and became the new WWE Champion. A few months later at Survivor Series, Punk defeated Del Rio and regained the WWE Championship.
The “Summer of Punk” ending up coming to a terrible ending. Kevin Nash returned to the WWE and quickly became an enemy of CM Punk. There was a unification title match set for SummerSlam between John Cena and Punk. Punk defeated Cena once again and retained his WWE Championship, but Kevin Nash rushed the ring from the crowd and attacked Punk. Alberto Del Rio then ran out to the ring and cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase on Punk and became the new WWE Champion. After a whole summer of being the number one guy in the company who was the hottest thing in wrestling at the time, WWE screwed Punk over.
A few months later at Survivor Series, Punk defeated Del Rio and regained the WWE Championship. He went on to carry the company into 2013 with an unprecedented 434 day run as WWE Champion before losing the title to The Rock at the 2013 Royal Rumble. I will dive into Punk’s 434 day run as WWE Champion in a future article.