Looking back at "The Summer of Punk"
CM Punk was the hottest star of the decade, yet WWE managed to blow the storyline. Here is a look back at "The Summer of Punk."
In June 2009, CM Punk interfered in a tables match between John Cena and R-Truth, which R-Truth won. Punk then took a microphone and delivered the 'Pipebomb".
With his contract set to expire, Punk cut a (seemingly) shoot promo, the likes of which hadn’t been seen in the WWE for many years.
Punk broke the “fourth wall,” and spoke out against backstage politics, delivering one of the best promos in WWE history. Here is the full promo:
The subsequent match with John Cena at the Money in the Bank PPV was magical, assisted by a rabid 'attitude era' type crowd in Chicago, IL who were desperate to see their hometown hero leave with the WWE Title.
They got their wish. With Vince McMahon at ringside, Punk left through the crowd, the storyline being that he was leaving with the WWE Title. It was amazing television. The next night, the storyline continued to progress correctly.
Punk was left off of television and Vince McMahon was removed from power by the board of directors for allowing the WWE title to leave the company. He was replaced by Triple H.
WWE would then crown a new Champion, another step in the right direction, as it further solidified the illusion that Punk had left with the WWE title. Then came the monumental mistake.
Just 2 weeks after seemingly walking out on the company, CM Punk returned to confront the new WWE Champion John Cena, following Cena’s title-winning his victory over Rey Mysterio.
A unification match was set up for SummerSlam. Rather than letting their biggest storyline in years build up for months and conclude at WrestleMania, WWE decided to cash-in on their hot new star right away.
After beating Cena again, Punk became the undisputed Champion for a few minutes, before being attacked by Kevin Nash who was in the crowd. Shortly after that, Alberto Del Rio would cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase on Punk to win the WWE title.
Punk would regain the title from Del Rio two months later at Survivor Series, but the buzz had gone, mainly due to the nonsensical booking that took place between SummerSlam and Survivor Series. Punk kept the ball rolling with some incredible promos in his feud against Triple H.
Triple H quickly became the main focus of the story when Kevin Nash, who was set to lose to Punk at the next PPV, failed a medical.
The storyline with Triple H was an inevitable move after Punk’s strong words against him and the McMahon family. However, with Nash unavailable for a stepping-stone victory, Punk went straight into a match with the semi-retired Triple H, which he inexplicably lost.
The Summer of Punk, which was going so strong, was derailed. WWE had somehow managed to allow it fizzle out courtesy of their poor booking. While keeping him off air, and having him confront the WWE at Comic Con felt fresh and exciting, going up against Kevin Nash added nothing to this crusade for revolution.
Although Punk continued to get the better of Triple H and Kevin Nash on the microphone, he had become diluted and at times stale. The edginess that the story had a few months earlier was lost somewhere along the way.
Despite burying his chances of becoming the face of company, Punk's Survivor Series Title win was still greeted with great enthusiasm by New York’s MSG crowd. However, the fact that even Punk's WWE title win didn't headline the show, was a clear indication as to where WWE saw CM Punk on the card.
Their main focus centred around promoting the match between The Rock and John Cena, the true face of the company.
Despite not being the top guy, Punk was still WWE Champion and was almost certainly seen as the poster boy for all those wrestlers in the past who had been overlooked for not being the right size, or for being underappreciated for their in ring skill.
As the months went on, Punk became just another guy on the roster and his pipe bombs became less and less frequent. Over the next few months, WWE continued to fail Punk, booking him in somewhat mediocre feuds with the likes Alberto Del Rio and the Miz.
His feud with Chris Jericho lead to a match at WrestleMania, but never really gained much momentum, due to more bad booking.
Rather than simply booking it around both claiming to be "the best in the World" in promos, WWE oddly decided to have Jericho berate Punk for months about his alcoholic family members, yet Punk was not permitted to bring up Jericho’s past arrest for being intoxicated.
If ever there was ever a time for a 'Pipebomb' from Punk, this was it. Punk beat Jericho at WrestleMania and at Extreme Rules in Chicago, IL, which was witnessed once again by a Red-hot Chicago crowd.
Punk's next feud with Daniel Bryan delivered amazing matches in the ring, but outside the ring, it centred around a love triangle between Punk, Bryan and AJ Lee. In one angle, AJ was actually permitted to push both men through a table.
After emerging as Champion from the feud, Punk turned heel on The Rock at the Raw 1000 show. Paul Heyman was added to Punk's act, and as a heel, Punk appeared to be fresh and interesting again as a certified jerk and a “Paul Heyman guy.”
He carried the company into 2013 as Champion, before dropping the WWE Title to The Rock at the Royal Rumble, following an unprecedented 434-day title.
However, despite the impressive length of the reign and the fact that it restored the importance of the WWE title, Punk was only the main event at 5 PPVs out of a possible 15. Punk was never implemented as the face of the company, and we never did get those WWE Ice Cream bars that he wanted to bring back.
Be sure to look out for the next part of my article, where I will re-book “The Summer of Punk” and lay out how it should have been done.
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