0 out of 5
Credit: All Elite Wrestling
Ten years ago, CM Punk was the hottest star in pro wrestling and one of the faces of WWE. Two years later, he walked away from it all, discouraged by the business and industry he had dedicated his life to and looking for something to help rekindle his passion.
For seven years he dabbled in acting, pouring his energy into mixed martial arts and writing some cool comics, while wrestling fans yearned for The Straight Edge Superstar’s return.
The introduction of All Elite Wrestling in 2019 piqued Punk’s interest, and he struck a deal with the promotion to return to the company two years later.
Motivated by a roster of young stars and veteran performers he trusted, and an owner he believed in the vision for, Punk returned to the ring and built on his already incredible in-ring reputation with more emotional, physical and sometimes violent battles.
To celebrate one of the most unlikely comebacks in recent memory and Punk’s recent AEW World Title victory, relive these five matches that defined his last decade of in-ring action and find out which one ranks as his best in this period.
1 out of 5
Credit: All Elite Wrestling
For months, the feud between Punk and MJF dominated AEW, eclipsing every other rivalry produced by the company. It was so hot that it even upstaged World Champion “Hangman” Adam Page’s feud with Adam Cole.
The two rivals settled their intense feud in a violent Dog Collar match. The culmination of months of promos, brawls, sneak attacks and a tainted win for MJF in their first encounter, the match was everything fans hoped for and more.
The punk topped a crimson mask and superplex villain on a pile of thumbtacks to silence MJF and claim the victory that ended their vendetta.
The match was one of the most anticipated in AEW history and it would have been easy for Punk and MJF to under deliver and disappoint fans. Instead, they ramped up the intensity and aggression, pulled out the necessary guns, and put an exclamation mark on a fantasy rivalry with one of the best games of either’s career. other man.
Clearly, Punk’s best AEW has run so far, with this February 2 MJF debut match being the closest competition to that title.
2 out of 5
Frustrated with his position on the WrestleMania 29 card, Punk traveled to MetLife Stadium in New Jersey for a showdown with The Undertaker and stole the show in the night’s main event, which saw John Cena duel with The Undertaker. Rock for the second consecutive year.
During his career, Punk showed up and showed off in a fantastic match that not only added another epic to his opponent’s WrestleMania resume, but also cemented his own legacy in the process.
Still relatively fresh after knee surgery sidelined him in early 2013, he showed no signs of ill effects, busting his ass to deliver a game that lived up to expectations, but has served as an announcement to the world that the main venue for the event that night should have belonged to him and The Deadman.
The dramatic fight saw Punk and his Hall of Fame opponent take the audience on an emotional roller coaster ride that culminated with The Phenom using his opponent’s hubris against him and sidelining him with the Tombstone piledriver. .
Punk didn’t win the match, but he didn’t have to. The most publicized WrestleMania appearance of his career, it was also his last dance on the big stage. He saved the best for last, however, delivering a match that showcased his excellence in the ring and added another contender for Match of the Year to Undertaker’s unprecedented streak of “Mania classics.”
He may not have appeared on the card he belonged to, but the match was by far the most high-profile on The Showcase of the Immortals and there’s no better way to stick it to management, Cena or The Rock than eclipsing this much-heralded rematch.
Punk did just that in his last appearance on the WrestleMania stage.
3 out of 5
Take two of the best and most influential wrestlers of their generation, pit them against each other in a no-nonsense match for the WWE Championship, and the likelihood of something special happening is high.
Such was the case in May 2012 at the Over the Limit PPV when Punk defended the industry’s top prize against Daniel Bryan in a dream match. With expectations high, the former Ring of Honor stars wowed the WWE Universe with an ultra-competitive contest that was instantly recognized as one of the company’s best that year.
The intensely physical bout saw Punk forced to overcome a rib injury if he hoped to retain the title. An even contest culminated controversially when Punk changed his weight, reversing the YES! Lock in a pinning combination.
The referee counted the drop as Punk tapped out a split second later, making it look like Bryan was also entitled to the world title.
It was a five-star classic that put wrestling front and center. Had it not been for the End of an Era match inside Hell in a Cell just over a month earlier at WrestleMania 28, there would have been no contest for that particular honor. .
One of the great fights of either man’s runs in WWE, this contest remains a hidden gem, stored somewhere behind the highest-profile, most-heralded and high-profile matches of their careers as ‘He should be celebrated for how extraordinarily awesome he is.
It’s a testament to Punk’s excellence in the ring over the past 10 years that he only ranks at #3 on this countdown.
4 out of 5
If there’s one match on this countdown that came out of nowhere to be a stopwatch, it’s the February 25, 2013 showdown between Punk and John Cena to determine who would challenge The Rock in the main event of WrestleMania. 29.
The two had produced classic matches in the past, like their career-defining 2011 Money in the Bank fight. Yet, even with their lineage of great matches, no one saw the timekeeper of a random Monday Night Raw episode coming.
Punk and Cena built on their previous encounters, reversing and countering whatever they threw at each other and leaving fans guessing the outcome. And therein lies the greatness of what they achieved as everyone knew Cena was heading to WrestleMania to reclaim his win over The Rock, but they were still sucked into the drama of what the Straight Edge contender and its longtime rival were creating.
This kind of match is only doable with two virtuoso performers at the helm, and it immediately entered the discussion for the biggest in WWE’s long A-show history.
After tying move for move, it was Cena who unleashed a totally unexpected top rope hurricane that stunned Punk, followed by one final attitude adjustment. Cena took the win that night, but it was another not-so-subtle reminder of punk excellence between the ropes.
A fantastic match that would top any other wrestler’s list, it lands at No. 2, just behind another five-star encounter from Punk’s Legendary 2013.
5 out of 5
Punk’s 2013 SummerSlam match against Brock Lesnar was one of WWE’s biggest matches of the past decade and, arguably, one of the best in company history.
A modern take on the classic David vs. Goliath storyline, it featured cunning veteran Punk faced with the seemingly impossible task of slaying the beast incarnate and avenging a shocking betrayal at the hands of former friend Paul Heyman in the process.
Along the way, he would endure tremendous pain and punishment from a violent assault by Lesnar. As he has done so many times in his career, Punk took it in his stride and moved on.
He took everything the former WWE and UFC heavyweight champion threw at him and as the match entered its final throes he found himself in position for an unlikely win.
Until Heyman made his presence felt. As Punk focused on the man he once called a friend, it allowed Lesnar to recover from his opponent’s sudden onslaught, hoist him onto his shoulders and lead him into a steel chair with the F-5 for the win.
Both men understood the mission but it was Punk who fueled the story of the match. He sold the blows to his opponent, knew exactly when to start the babyface comeback, and generated sympathy by selling before showing the right amount of intensity for his offensive assault.
Lesnar was excellent in what is arguably his best match since returning 10 years ago, but it’s Punk whose performance in the instant classic not only stands out his best of the last decade, but one of the best babyface performances in WWE history.
If you haven’t watched this match in a while, go back and do it. It’s a modern masterpiece and cutting-edge WWE storytelling, all wrapped up in proper physical battle.