Not because the glory days of Shawn Michaels or Hulk Hogan has there been a wrestler as controversial as CM Punk. Oft-proclaimed because the undisputed “Greatest within the World,” Punk has spent nearly all of his profession cultivating a fame for his austere wrestling means and fascinating character work, garnering a loyal cult following of followers since his profession took off within the mid-2000s.
As spectacular as Punk’s work within the ring, the Second Metropolis Savior has additionally turn into identified for his notorious backstage points with fellow wrestling personalities, butting heads in opposition to everybody from Vince McMahon and Triple H in WWE to Tony Khan and The Elite in AEW. Regardless of these considerable skilled setbacks, Punk stays one of the celebrated abilities of his technology, influencing dozens of wrestlers who adopted in his footsteps (together with Seth Rollins, Rhea Ripley, and MJF).
From his breakout matches in ROH to his repeated clashes in opposition to John Cena in WWE, listed below are a number of the best matches to function CM Punk in motion, ranked from finest to worst.
CM Punk vs. John Cena (Cash within the Financial institution 2011)
When wanting on the entire of WWE’s PG Period, just one match stands the check of time because the definitive finest bout of its period: CM Punk versus John Cena at 2011’s Cash within the Financial institution. Typically hailed as one of many best professional wrestling bouts within the firm’s historical past, Punk and Cena pulled out all of the stops when it got here to their fateful encounter right here.
Sustaining some wonderful chemistry, the 2 transitioned from standard technical wrestling to outright brawling to a flurry of high-diving assaults from the highest rope. A match that proved every man’s versatility and adaptableness within the ring, it additionally served as crucial bout in Punk’s profession, successful audiences over along with his momentous victory over Cena and securing his first WWE Championship.
CM Punk vs. Samoa Joe (ROH Joe vs. Punk II)
In the summertime of 2004, CM Punk and Samoa Joe reigned because the defining faces of the burgeoning wrestling promotion Ring of Honor, collaborating in a trilogy of matches now thought of classics within the annals of indie wrestling. After their inconclusive bout at World Title Basic, Punk and Joe once more confronted off for the ROH World Championship, battling to an exhausting 60-minute draw at ROH Joe vs. Punk II. Greater than a easy world title match, Punk and Joe’s 2004 rivalry established ROH as a official different to mainstream firms like WWE, current on par with different notable non-WWE feuds like Aptitude and Steamboat or Okada and Omega.
CM Punk vs. Samoa Joe (ROH All-Star Extravaganza II)
After two indecisive matches that reached a time-limit draw, Joe and Punk met one last time in the primary occasion of ROH All-Star Extravaganza II. Displaying a much more severe and decided perspective than he had of their earlier engagements, Punk gained the benefit over the Samoan Submission Machine all through the early portion of the match. Because the match drew on, nonetheless, Joe bounced again, leveling Punk with a combination of chops, kicks, and different high-impact strikes. Carrying the Straight Edge Celebrity down along with his unforgiving ground-and-pound type, Joe ultimately secured a hard-fought victory over his longtime rival, ending ROH’s Punk-Joe feud in dramatic, grand vogue.
CM Punk vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania XXIX)
Whereas Punk has lengthy expressed disappointment at by no means headlining WrestleMania, the Greatest within the World leaves behind a powerful array of five-star matches in his WrestleMania efficiency historical past, together with his lauded match in opposition to The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXIX. Making an attempt to make historical past as the primary man to defeat the Deadman on the grandest stage of all of them, Punk utilized quite a few psychological ways to get inside The Undertaker’s head previous to the bout, comparable to mocking the then-recent loss of life of ‘Taker’s legendary supervisor, Paul Bearer. Regardless of his disarming thoughts video games, nonetheless, the Straight Edge Celebrity fell sufferer to The Undertaker at this 2013 showdown, with the Phenom including yet another tally to his iconic undefeated streak.
CM Punk vs. John Cena (Uncooked)
Upon shedding his WWE title to The Rock at Royal Rumble 2013, CM Punk briefly reignited his 2011-era feud in opposition to John Cena, every man vying for a chance to face The Rock at WrestleMania XXIX. The ultimate encounter between Cena and Punk, this 2013 match lives on as one other thrilling chapter in Cena and Punk’s celebrated rivalry. Paying homage to their earlier encounter at 2011’s Cash within the Financial institution, the match utilized many differing kinds, from mat-based technical wrestling to extra unorthodox maneuvers from each males. Redeeming his earlier loss to Punk at Cash within the Financial institution, Cena managed to lastly put one over on his foremost PG Period foe.
CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan (Over the Restrict 2012)
Having gained the WWE Championship in late 2011, CM Punk launched into a prolonged campaign to guard his title in opposition to all challengers for the subsequent 12 months. Along with standout foes like Chris Jericho and Kane, Punk’s most formidable rival got here within the type of Daniel Bryan. An acute technical wrestler in his personal proper, Bryan made for an excellent rival to the Second Metropolis Savior, each males using the identical mat-based, MMA-style offense all through their careers. The best match of their 2012 summertime feud, Punk and Bryan loved a bout on par with Michaels and Hart or Savage and Steamboat, punctuated by a nonstop barrage of kicks, suplexes, and taut submission holds.
CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar (SummerSlam 2013)
Breaking from his supervisor Paul Heyman in mid-2013, Punk launched into an intense feud in opposition to Heyman’s most well-known shopper, Brock Lesnar. In typical Lesnar vogue, the Beast Incarnate dominated nearly all of the match via his uncooked energy, tossing Punk round with an endless collection of suplexes. As imposing as Lesnar’s offense proved, Punk held his personal in opposition to the Conqueror, combating again with a wave of high-flying assaults and devastating kicks. Night the percentages with a number of chair pictures in opposition to Lesnar, solely the repeated intervention of Paul Heyman allowed Lesnar to attain the pinfall victory over his former colleague.
CM Punk vs. Samoa Joe (ROH World Title Basic)
Assembly for the primary time at ROH World Title Basic, Punk and Samoa Joe fought to a draining 60-minute draw, paving the way in which to their eventual rematches at ROH Joe vs. Punk II and ROH All-Star Extravaganza II within the months forward. When their authentic match-up right here, although, one tends to note the unparalleled chemistry every man had within the ring collectively. Opening the bout with some tactical, technical wrestling, Joe and Punk then transitioned into extra bodily brawling. A bout as spectacular as their later rematches, Punk and Joe’s preliminary conflict helped set the usual for ROH transferring ahead.
CM Punk vs. Austin Aries (ROH Dying Earlier than Dishonor III)
Signing with WWE in mid-2005, Punk concluded his contract with ROH along with his praised “Summer time of Punk” storyline. Kicking off this climactic period in Punk’s ROH profession, the Straight Edge Celebrity challenged ROH World Champion Austin Aries at ROH Dying Earlier than Dishonor III. With their related movesets and offensive kinds, CM Punk and Aries made for pitch-perfect opponents in opposition to each other, culminating in a match crammed with quite a few inventive maneuvers and well-timed reversals. Successful the ROH World title in a shock end from Aries, Punk then confirmed audiences his true colours, mocking the very title he’d simply secured.
CM Punk vs. MJF (AEW Revolution 2022)
CM Punk had quite a few nice matches throughout his short-lived tenure in AEW, together with distinctive bouts in opposition to Adam Web page, Jon Moxley, Ricky Starks, and Eddie Kingston. As phenomenal as these respective matches have been, Punk’s single best opponent in AEW is his stylistic successor, MJF. A star as incendiary in his promos and as proficient within the ring as Punk, MJF proved a recurring thorn in Punk’s facet all through late 2021 and early 2022.
As their feud grew extra heated, Punk quickly challenged MJF to a Canine Collar match at Revolution 2022. Loaded with intense violence, Punk and MJF wore one another down with their back-and-forth offense and brutal implementation of their chain collars, with Punk scoring a hard-earned victory over his noteworthy AEW rival.
CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho (Payback 2013)
Rebounding from his loss at WrestleMania XXIX, Punk took a two-month break from WWE tv, returning to reply Chris Jericho’s problem at Payback 2013. As very good as Jericho and Punk’s 2012 rivalry had been, this 2013 rematch surpassed the standard of their earlier bouts, with Punk bearing little indicators of ring rust from his short-term hiatus. Like Punk’s match in opposition to Daniel Bryan, Punk and Jericho carried out a classical wrestling format to their match right here, delivering a bout on par with Steamboat and Aptitude or Punk and Cena.
CM Punk vs. “Hangman” Adam Web page (AEW Double or Nothing 2022)
Regardless of their obvious private points, CM Punk and then-reigning AEW World Champion “Hangman” Adam Web page performed an in any other case outstanding bout in the primary occasion of Double or Nothing 2022. Constructing off a storyline that blurred the traces between kayfabe and actuality, Web page introduced out a much more uncooked offense, brutalizing Punk with rolling elbows, thunderous chops, and devastating clotheslines. With Punk struggling to acquire any momentum, Web page’s onslaught continued all through a lot of the match, just for a momentary slip-up on Web page’s half to value him his one probability at victory.
CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy (SummerSlam 2009)
After an honest however unremarkable begin in WWE, CM Punk got here into his personal by 2009, turning heel and cashing in his Cash within the Financial institution briefcase on his former ally, Jeff Hardy. With thinly-veiled allusions to Hardy’s problematic historical past with substance abuse, Punk grew to become a self-aggrandizing heel as the brand new World Heavyweight Champion, proclaiming himself superior to Hardy based mostly on his devoted straight-edge life-style.
Assembly Hardy in a number of matches all through mid 2009, the 2 ultimately squared off in an thrilling Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match in the primary occasion of SummerSlam. Successful again his World title from Hardy in a nail-biting end, Punk solidified his face as the longer term star of WWE along with his victory right here.
CM Punk vs. Jon Moxley (AEW All Out 2022)
Whereas All Out 2022 will ceaselessly be identified for the notorious backstage battle between Punk and The Elite, it’s value remembering CM Punk’s epic bout in opposition to Jon Moxley for the World Heavyweight Championship within the pay-per-view foremost occasion. Enjoying to Moxley’s hyper-violent strengths as a performer, the match introduced a brand new stage of brawling to Moxley and Punk’s rivalry. Regardless of wrestling with an obvious damage, Punk nonetheless managed to carry his personal in opposition to Moxley’s offense, successful his second AEW World Championship within the course of.
CM Punk vs. Eddie Kingston (AEW Full Gear 2021)
Like his feuds in opposition to Adam Web page and Jeff Hardy, CM Punk’s rivalry in opposition to Eddie Kingston skewered the traces between scripted tv and actuality. With each males admitting to some deep-seated unwell emotions in direction of one another courting again to the 2000s, AEW set the stage for a long-awaited match between the 2 at Full Gear 2021.
Like most of Punk’s AEW matches, the ensuing bout demonstrated the bodily depth of each males, unfolding like a cross between a NJPW sturdy type match and an ECW-style brawl. The primary and solely match on this short-lived rivalry, it’s one of the underrated additions to Punk’s AEW profession.
Richard Chachowski is an leisure and journey author who has written for such publications as Wealth of Geeks, Looper, Display Rant, Fangoria, and Sportskeeda, amongst many others. He acquired his BA from The Faculty of New Jersey and has been an expert author since 2020. His geeky areas of curiosity embrace Star Wars, journey writing, horror, video video games, comedian books, literature, and animation.
Richard has been an avid client of films, tv, books, and popular culture since he was four-years-old. Raised on a various mixture of Clint Eastwood Westerns, Star Wars, sci-fi and horror movies, Alan Moore comics, and Stephen King novels, he ultimately turned his numerous passions right into a inventive outlet, writing about movie, tv, literature, comics, and gaming for his highschool and school newspapers. A touring fanatic, Richard has additionally managed to create a profession out of journeying overseas, venturing to such awe-inspiring locations because the Sonoran Desert of Mexico, the rainforests of Costa Rica, and the scenic shoreline of Haiti. Upon graduating from TCNJ, Richard set his sights on a profession in journalism, writing extensively concerning the artwork of touring and the leisure medium for numerous on-line publications. When he’s not busy making his approach via The Criterion Assortment, he will be discovered both studying or planning a visit someplace (ideally someplace with a scenic mountaineering path).