On this date 6 years ago, July 17, 2011, CM Punk squared off against John Cena. The WWE Championship was on the line, and the stakes were high.
In the weeks leading up to this night, CM Punk had made his ascent to the Main Event of the WWE. He was named Number One Contender for John Cena’s WWE Championship. He would defend that honor and win a triple threat match against Alberto Del Rio and Rey Mysterio on June 20th. He would notify the WWE Universe that his contract would expire immediately following the Money in the Bank show.
This was a very real concern for fans. Punk had made his grievances known to some meta fans and many were concerned the hottest thing in professional wrestling was on his way out of the Stamford based promotion.
The next episode of Raw would give us one of the best segments in the history or Raw, and the best promo of the last 15 years.
The Pipe Bomb, in all of its devastating glory.
The Pipe Bomb
It was known as the “Pipe Bomb.” Punk broke every rule that fans believed Vince had when it came to work on the mic. He broke the fourth wall, mentioned performers outside of the company (most notably his former friend, Colt Cabana), other promotions (New Japan, All Japan, and Ring of Honor), ran down the WWE’s golden boy (John Cena), and openly criticized WWE brass (Vince, Triple H, and John Laurinitis). All the while, he sat cross legged, donned a Stone Cold Steve Austin shirt, and called himself a Paul Heyman guy. He said he did not hate Cena, and liked him more than he liked most of the guys in the back, but would take the title from Cena and leave the company.
This action would net the WWE a ton of buzz, and net Punk a suspension and get him stripped of his Number One Contendership. Enter John Cena. He would go directly to Vince McMahon and threaten to walk out if Punk was not reinstated. Vince agreed, but told Cena if he lost, he was fired. The stakes were never as high as they were now.
Be careful of what you wish for.
Many fans, myself included, hoped that Punk would win the match, take the title to some place else, and maybe kick off some kind of inter-promotional feud for the business. Despite our hopes, most fans didn't see such an option as realistic. It looked as if WWE was piling things upon Punk so that he could make a good attempt, but ultimately come up short. In one of the most shocking moments I've ever witnessed in wrestling, CM Punk did the impossible. He won, and he escaped through the crowd. Mere hours later, a photo of the WWE Championship sitting in CM Punk's fridge popped up online. Despite the outcome, the circumstances surrounding the aftermath weren't exactly what people had expected.
CM Punk versus John Cena for the WWE Championship at Money in the Bank 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.
My parents used to always say “Be careful of what you wish for.” We all wished Punk would have left the WWE, as Champion, and come around and held the belt in Ring of Honor. We all got our wish, in a very screwed up kind of way. This is my plea to all of you who are wishing for Punk to come back. Be careful, because if he does return, he might not be as good as he once was, or might get buried by the “powers that be.”
Punk would come back to the WWE. He would get a new theme song (and a better one), and go on to hold the belt for 434 days. He would lose the title at the 2013 Royal Rumble against Dwayne Johnson (he goes by a different name, but since he is less than a part-timer, I struggle to remember it). This would set up a match between Dwayne and Cena (winner of the 2013 Royal Rumble) at WrestleMania.
What we saw on that night was the beginning of one of the greatest title reigns in the belt’s history. The lead up gave us fantastic television, and cemented CM Punk as a cult hero to millions, and put him as far over as anyone who has ever been in this industry.
What is your favorite memory of this whole ordeal? Tell us in the comments.
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