Summer may not come until late June, but I can’t help but remember the three greatest summers in professional wrestling history; The Summer of Punk, which happened in 2005 during CM Punk’s tenure in Ring Of Honor; Alissa Flash (Cheerleader Melissa) and her rendezvous in River City Wrestling during the summer of 2010; and of course, WWE’s version of the infamous “Summer Of Punk” in 2011.
The events during those time periods were legendary for wrestling fans minds…Punk walking out of ROH with their title; Alissa making history by winning the RCW Championship, and Punk running away with the WWE Title, only to reappear 2 weeks later.
Let’s take a look back at those memorable summers and the background of those memorable moments.
The First “Summer Of Punk”-2005
Before The Summer of Punk
Initially, CM Punk joined Ring of Honor (ROH) as a crowd favorite in 2002, but quickly became a villain in a feud with ECW Original Raven that featured numerous variants of no disqualification matches. Their rivalry lasted most of 2003 and was considered one of ROH’s top feuds of the year, and was based around Punk’s straight-edge lifestyle, with him likening Raven to his alcoholic father. Their rivalry was settled at The Conclusion in November 2003, where Punk defeated Raven in a Steel Cage match. Punk started climbing the ranks of ROH, including coming in second at the Second Anniversary Show during the tournament to crown the first ROH Pure Champion, losing to current TNA superstar A.J. Styles in the finals and winning the ROH Tag Team Championship twice with good friend Colt Cabana as the Second City Saints. Both times Punk and Cabana defeated the Briscoe Brothers to win the championship.
The Summer Begins: June 18, 2005
In June of 2005, the brash CM Punk accepted a deal with the most powerful name in professional wrestling: World Wrestling Entertainment, after a try-out match against Val Venis on its Sunday Night Heat show. Even though he had accepted the deal, Punk had business to attend to…facing Austin Aries for Aries’ ROH World Championship on June 18, 2005 at Death Before Dishonor III in Morristown, NJ.
In what was supposed to be Punk’s final ROH appearance, the Crowd is expecting a love in like when Paul London left at the original Death Before Dishonor when London faced Samoa Joe for the ROH Championship, only to lose. Aries has been the champion since 12.26.04, and this is his eighteenth defense.
They start off slowly with some classic chain wrestling. Punk targets Aries’ injured neck right away, but Aries comes back and works the headlock. Punk responds with a head scissors, Aries headstands his way out of it but Punk dropkicks him right back down and locks on a headlock. Punk tenaciously holds on to the headlock despite Aries’ best efforts. The challenger has counters for everything the champion throws at him. Punk knocks Aries to the floor with a Chris Jericho dropkick and then wipes him out with a Tope Suicida. The fight migrates to the apron and Aries finally gets an advantage with a Death Valley Driver right on the edge of the ring.
Finally the champion takes control and works Punk over around ringside. Punk reverses a whip into the barricade. He takes a few moments to regroup, allowing Aries to pull him face-first into the barricade. The champ resumes control. Aries is also working on the neck. They finally make it back to the ring, where Aries hits a twisting body press and a quebrada for two. The crowd is really getting into it now, booing and cheering during the action. Aries works Punk over, feeding off the booing of the crowd. He exposes the turnbuckle and whips Punk into it. He goes for another whip but Punk reverses it and Aries take it chest-first, and then Punk hits a Northern Lariat. Both men are down for the count. Back on their feet Punk takes the advantage, much to the delight of the crowd. Punk hits Welcome to Chicago MF’er for two. He goes up top for a flying cross body block that gets another two-count. He goes for the Pepsi Twist but Aries blocks it and hits a lariat for two. Aries hits a piledriver for two.
The crowd is heavily invested in Punk winning the title. Aries hits the Finlay Roll and goes up for the 450. Punk stops him and slams him down to the mat. He slams Aries down again and hits the Shining Wizard for two! The crowd wants to see Punk execute the Pepsi Plunge but Aries blocks it and hits the Super Brainbuster DANGEROUS but Punk kicks out! Aries goes up for the 450 but gets stopped. Punk looks for the inverted Pepsi Plunge but Aries fights it off. Aries then executes his own Pepsi Plunge, but Punk kicks out at one! The crowd super happy but they get pissed when Aries knocks Punk down with a roaring elbow and a kick to the head. Aries goes up and hits the 450 but Punk rolls it into the Anaconda Vise and Aries has to reach the ropes! The champ tries a crucifix bomb but Punk reverses to a TKO. Punk hits the Shining Wizard and then the inverted Pepsi Plunge to get the pin and the title at 30:28! The match went by fast and had a very infectious crowd heat. The no-selling was a blatantly obvious and took the match down a little bit, but for sheer emotion this one is hard to beat.
After the match, Aries hands the belt over and congratulates the new champion. The crowd shows Aries some love too as he makes his way to the back. What follows is the single greatest promo and angle in the history of Ring of Honor. Punk cuts an amazing promo about how the fans are stupid for having followed him, and that he used them just to capture the ROH World Title on his way out. Some super smarks are still cheering for Punk’s vitriol filled rant against them, but the people who are not jerks boo Punk like they should. Punk proceeded to become the biggest villain and started a storyline where he threatened to bring the ROH World Championship to WWE with him. Then from out of nowhere, Christopher Daniels enters the ring! Punk doesn’t see him right away, and when he turns around the crowd goes nuts. They jaw at each other briefly and then the brawl is on. The crowd chants “ring the bell!” Daniels goes for the Best Moonsault Ever and Punk rolls out of the way. The returning Daniels challenges Punk to put the belt on the line right now, WrestleMania IX style. If Punk wasn’t staying around until August, imagine how hot Daniels winning the title right here would have been. But since Punk was staying a little longer it was obviously the right call to put the belt on him. Anyway, Punk turns down Daniels’ challenge and scurries out of the arena. Daniels then proceeds to cut a promo about the reasons he left ROH back in 2004. He goes on for a little while, which of course isn’t quite as exciting as Punk.
Here’s Punk’s promo after the match;
“Isn’t this the prettiest little thing you’ve ever seen? It was over a year ago I held this belt high in the air after I fought for it for the first time in Dayton, Ohio against Samoa Joe and I proclaimed this belt the most important thing to me. Right now, in my hands, as of this day 6/18/05, THIS becomes the most important belt in the world! This belt in the hands of any other man is just a belt, but in my hands it becomes power. Just like this microphone in the hands of any of the boys in the back is just a microphone, but in the hands of a dangerous man like myself it becomes a pipe-bomb. These words that I speak spoken but anybody else are just words strung loosely together to form sentences. What I say I mean, and what I mean I say, and they become anthems! You see, if I could be afforded the time here a little bit of a story. There was once an old man, walking home from work. He was walking in the snow, and he stumbled upon a snake frozen in the ice. He took that snake, and he brought it home, and he took care of it, and he thawed it out, and he nursed it back to health. And as soon as that snake was well enough, it bit the old man. And as the old man lay there dying he asked the snake, ‘Why? I took care of you. I loved you. I saved your life.’ And that snake looked that man right in the eye and said, ‘You stupid old man. I’m a snake.’ The greatest thing the devil ever did was make you people believe he didn’t exist…and you’re looking at him right now! I AM THE DEVIL HIMSELF! And all of you stupid, mindless people fell for it! You all believed in the same make-believe superhero that the legendary Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat saw some year ago today. No, you see, you don’t know anything. You followed me hook-line and sinker, all of you did, and I’m not mad at you…I just feel sorry for you. This belongs to me! Everything you see here belongs to me, and I did what I had to do to get my hands on this. Now I am the GREATEST PRO WRESTLER walkin’ the Earth today! This is my stage, this is my theater, you are my puppets! When I pulled those marionette strings, and I moved your emotions, and I played with them, and honestly it’s ’cause I get off on it. I hate each and every single one of you with a thousand burns and I will not stop…I will not stop until I prove that I am better than you, that I am better than Low Ki, that I am better than AJ Styles! I’m better than Samoa Joe. Ladies and gentlemen, the champ is here! You don’t have to love it, but you better learn to accept it. ‘Cause I’m taking this with me, and there’s not a single person in that locker room that can stop me!”
For weeks, Punk teased the ROH locker room and the ROH fans as well as mocking the championship he possessed, going so far as to sign his WWE contract on it, showing shades of Madusa departing WWE for WCW with their Womens Title in 1995. During the storyline, “The Hardcore Legend” Mick Foley made several ROH appearances, attempting to convince Punk to do the right thing and defend the title on his way out. On August 12, 2005 in Dayton, Ohio, Punk lost the ROH World Championship to James Gibson in a four corner elimination match consisting of himself, Gibson, Samoa Joe and Christopher Daniels, who re-debuted after a year-and-half absence. James Gibson gave a victory speech after the match and said it was the greatest moment of his career, even better than Wrestlemania. Punk’s final scheduled match in Ring of Honor took place at Punk: The Final Chapter on August 13, 2005 against long-time friend Colt Cabana in a two out of three falls match, which he lost. In his last match, Punk was visibly crying and was showered with streamers when he posed in the middle of the ring. The first Summer of punk had ended.
The Summer Roller Coaster Ends
In September 2005, Punk was assigned to Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), a WWE developmental territory and made his WWE debut on June 24, 2006. With a lot of championships to his credit, Punk has built his credibility in WWE like his days in Ring of Honor.
Why was the first summer was memorable?
CM Punk provided us with months of anticipation for his WWE debut, which happened a year later. But between June 18 and August 13 was the biggest roller-coaster ride ROH has ever been on.
But for WWE fans, the revival of the”Summer Of Punk” would linger on in the next 6 years.
San Antonio’s Summer With A Heat “Flash”-2010
Beginnings Of A Beautiful Summer
Melissa Anderson, also known as Alissa Flash, better known as Cheerleader Melissa outside San Antonio-based River City Wrestling, originally made her first RCW appearance in 2009, but her Summer “Flash” began on April 3, 2010 by beating Joey Spector one on one. The feisty Alissa, who had jumped off the TNA bandwagon a few months ago, made her mark on the sport that’s dominated by men. And with a career that spanned over 10 ears, who would have thought that a woman can beat up the guys in the ring?
Only Alissa Flash can.
Don’t go telling the most empowering female in wrestling she can’t beat up the guys. She can beat up the tough girls, too.
The promo made by Flash in March of 2010 proved to be the most hardest working promos ever done by anybody in wrestling:
“Hey Spector, you gotta be kidding me, right? I mean, how how are you gonna say that I cost us the match, when you were the one getting your butt whipped by Hamada? And I had to be the one to come and save YOU? And on top of that, you’re gonna say that women don’t belong in the ring? Women should be at home, cooking meals for their men, doing this, doing that? Baby, I’m the “Future Legend,” I’m living the high life in San Francisco, so do me a favor, save your chauvinistic BS for your girl at home, and when I’m done with you in the middle the ring, you’ll be making my dinner. And I like it served HOT!”
And indeed it did. On April 3, 2010, was the hottest event in San Antonio…Alissa Flash vs. the chauvinist, Joey Spector.
From running bulldogs to smashing Easter baskets and swinging shairs, even to wheelbarrow her loudmouth opponent through barricades and chairs, Alissa proved she belongs in the ring. One of the most respected female wrestlers in the business. After the match, the stipulation is that if Spector should lose, he has to wear a dress at all future RCW shows. But if Alissa lost, she would leave RCW and never come back.
Unfortunately for Spector, it was the other way around.
How Alissa Spent Her Summer Vacation
The aftermath of that Easter weekend match up set up the most hottest summers in pro wrestling history…The continuation of the Alissa Flash/Joey Spector feud.
With Joey Spector coming in as the reigning RCW Champion, Alissa has one goal and one goal only; to make history.
The brutality of the match is what RCW fans expected from the beginning. From chairs, ladders, even the concrete played a factor in this match. Alissa’s technical prowess was on occasion thrown out the window. Alissa was hardcore this time around. After the pin-fall, the “Female Terminator” made wrestling history by becoming the first woman to hold a promotion’s top title, the RCW Championship.
But then…Came Black Monday. the decision of the front office was that Alissa’s victory counted, but the title win was null and void. This sparked outrage by the fans, as well as Alissa herself.
Stripped of her RCW Title, Alissa came charging like a bull the following month. It was originally September 4th, but RCW has other plans.
The statement Alissa made after the outcome of it proved to me more determined to make history again.
“Stripped of my RCW Championship? Are you kidding me? Okay, Joey Spector, if that’s the way you wanna play, then let’s play. How about you keep that belt a little bit longer, because come August, you won’t see me there. Unlike you, people wanna book me. I’m a little bit high demand than you are. So how about this: Come September 4th, I’m coming back for my rematch. And it’s gonna be No DQ, Falls Count Anywhere, and if you got the balls for it, certainly No Time Limit. So strap on you little boots, bring on whatever little game you got, go ahead, bring your Lady Fantasy, I don’t care, because on September 4th, I’m gonna make history ONCE AGAIN!”
The match up however, included a 12-minute time limit, but that didn’t stop Alissa on taking what’s rightfully hers.
From the ring to outside of the building, Spector and Flash brawled anywhere the wanted, when they wanted. And it took one Air Raid Crash from off a pickup truck to end the match. The match itself was brutal from start to finish. But in the end, however Alissa Flash was the true RCW Champion, no matter how many dirty tricks up Joey Spector’s sleeve.
Summer May Be Over, But The “Flash” Of Dominance Lingers On
After the summer battles, Alissa competed against Mercedes Martinez twice in both September and October, with different results. She may have forfeited the title due to the fact she couldn’t accept a challenge from RCW Co-Commissioner Ray “The Voice,” but that doesn’t deter the fact that Alissa can regain it in the near future.
After the Summer of 2010, she captured the RCW Tag Team Titles with Darci Drake in 2011, and as of this article, the RCW International Championship.
In between 2010 and 2012, She has captured the SHIMMER Championship in October of 2011, only to lose it to Saraya Knight. Fans were livid and enraged that her reign on top wasn’t long enough. Remindful of her RCW Championship run.
The best summer since the “Summer of Punk” and the most historical summer.
If the fiery San Francisco native has her way, she would make any summer “The Summer Of Flash.”
The Second Summer Of Punk-2011
The second Coming Of The “Summer Of Punk”
In June, after pinning WWE Champion John Cena on Monday Night Raw, Rey Mysterio at the new Pay Per View called Capitol Punishment and finally Alberto Del Rio again in a #1 contendership match (which included Mysterio) all within one week, CM Punk revealed his contract would expire at Money in the Bank and vowed to leave the company with the WWE Championship; some of his speeches and mannerisms echoed his final months with Ring of Honor. His Dialogue with announcer Michael Cole Proves it;
Michael Cole: [reading e-mail from RAW's anonymous GM] And I quote: “Mr. Punk, I understand your demands and I will certainly take them under consideration. However, right now, I’ll ask you to leave the ring.”
Punk: Okay…Cole, you know I love ya, I know you’re just doing your job, but he’s asking me to leave the ring? He/she is asking me to leave the ring? Okay, I’m not…
[The GM chime rings again] Cole: And I quote: “I suggest you leave the ring right now.”
Punk: Until you announce me as the #1 contender for the WWE Championship, I suggest you watch me make snow angels. July 17, 2011, will be the most historic day, not only in the career of CM Punk, it’s gonna be a historic day for the WWE as a whole. Not only is July 17 the second annual Money in the Bank Ladder Match pay-per-view, it’s the night I defeat John Cena for the WWE Championship. Now, here’s that honesty I was talking about, that honesty that’s probably gotten me in trouble more times than I’d like to admit, the brutal honesty I’m known for. July 17 is the day my contract with World Wrestling Entertainment comes to an end. That means when the clock strikes midnight, the 17th becomes the 18th, Sunday bleeds into Monday, I’m leaving. And trust me when I tell you I am leaving with the WWE Championship.
On June 27, 2011, Punk made a scathing on-air speech concerning the way in which WWE is run and its owner Vince McMahon, he was given a storyline suspension from televised WWE events but was reinstated the following week on Cena’s insistence.
The promo was like this…
“John Cena, while you lay there hopefully as uncomfortable as you possibly can be, I want you to listen to me. I want you to digest this because before I leave in three weeks with your WWE Championship, I have a lot of things I want to get off my chest. I don’t hate you, John. I don’t even dislike you. I do like you; I like you a hell lot more than I like most people in the back. I hate this idea that you’re the best…because you’re not. I’m the best. I’m the best in the world. There’s one thing that you’re better at than I am, and that’s kissing Vince McMahon’s ass. You’re as good at kissing Vince’s ass as Hulk Hogan was. I don’t know if you’re as good as Dwayne though—he’s a pretty good ass-kisser, always was and still is. [Turns to camera and waves] Whoops, I’m breaking the fourth wall.
I am the best wrestler in the world. I’ve been the best ever since day one when I walked into this company, and I’ve been vilified and hated since that day because Paul Heyman saw something in me that nobody else wanted to admit. That’s right, I’m a Paul Heyman guy. You know who else was a Paul Heyman guy? Brock Lesnar, and he split just like I’m splitting, but the biggest difference between me and Brock is I’m going to leave with the WWE Championship.
I’ve grabbed so many of Vincent K. McMahon’s imaginary brass rings that it’s finally dawned on me that they’re just that—they’re completely imaginary. The only thing that’s real is me, and the fact that day in and day out, for almost six years, I’ve proved to everybody in the world that I’m the best on this microphone, in that ring, even at commentary! Nobody can touch me! And yet no matter how many times I prove it, I’m not on your lovely little collector cups, I’m not on the cover of the program, I’m barely promoted, I don’t get to be in movies, I’m certainly not on any crappy show on the USA Network, I’m not on the poster of WrestleMania, I’m not on the signature that’s produced at the start of the show! I’m not on Conan O’Brien, I’m not on Jimmy Fallon, but the fact of the matter is I should be; and trust me, this isn’t sour grapes, but the fact that Dwayne is in the main event of WrestleMania next year and I’m not makes me sick!
[Turns to the fans] Oh, hey, let me get something straight. Those of you who are cheering me right now, you are just the biggest part of me leaving as anything else, because you’re the ones that are sipping out of those collector cups right now; you’re the ones that buy those programs that my face isn’t on the cover of, and then at 5:00 in the morning at the airport, you try and shove it in my face so you can get an autograph and try to sell it on eBay because you’re too lazy to go get a real job!
I’m leaving with the WWE Championship on July 17, and hell, who knows? Maybe I’ll go defend it in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Maybe I’ll go back to Ring of Honor. [Waves to camera] Hey, Colt Cabana, how you doing? The reason I’m leaving is you people because after I’m gone, you’re still gonna pour money into this company. I’m just a spoke on the wheel, the wheel’s gonna keep turning and I understand that. But Vince McMahon’s gonna make money despite himself. He’s a millionaire who should be a billionaire. You know why he’s not a billionaire? It’s ’cause he surrounds himself with glad-handing, nonsensical douchebag yes-men like John Laurinaitis who’s gonna tell him everything that he wants to hear. And I’d like to think that maybe this company will be better after Vince McMahon’s dead, but the fact is it’s gonna get taken over by his idiotic daughter and his doofus son-in-law and the rest of his stupid family! Let me tell you a personal story about Vince McMahon. All right. We’re doing this whole bullying campaign…”[The mic cuts off]
The aforementioned promo was also a voice for an older fan base disconnected and disappointed by a product they once loved. The most vicious promo ever delivered by Punk.
Upon his return Punk ceased to appear with the remaining members of Nexus and the group would quietly dissolve the same month.This helped transition him from a villainous character back to being a fan-favorite.
With this promo that featured John Cena and Vince McMahon, Punk made it clear that he will walk out of Chicago as the WWE Champion and out of the WWE.
Punk: I’m not gonna have you sit here and belittle me. Say I’ve lost sight? I’ve lost sight of things, John? The reason I say I’m gonna take that and walk out is because I don’t fit a certain mold. Because I am the underdog, and that’s exactly what you’ve lost sight of. Earlier in this ring, you mentioned great wrestlers like Eddie Guerrero and you said they used to look at you and say that the kid couldn’t hang. And now you stand here and look at me as the kid that can’t hang. John, I was hanging off of your gangster car, WrestleMania 22, as it rolled down in Chicago, Illinois, and I stood there in a suit looking as ridiculous as [points to Vince McMahon] that man looks right now in his suit, holding a phony Tommy gun, and I said to myself someday, I’m not gonna be standing out there watching you in the ring; I was gonna be in the ring watching you go down to CM Punk. And now here we are in your hometown of Boston. And now next week, we’ll be back there in my hometown—Chicago, Illinois. And this…this is the part where I talk ‘em into the building. See, you are the one that’s lost sight, and I apologize for raising my voice because I’m not that guy. But when you stand here and tell me that I’ve lost sight, when you, the 10-time Champion who stands for hustle, loyalty and respect; who, from Boston, Massachusetts, lives and breathes these red colors, the same colors as your beloved Red Sox, who also portray themselves as the underdog, I’m sure just like the Bruins portray themselves as the underdog. Just like the Patriots think they’re the underdog! Hey, how about those Celtics? Are they the underdogs too? Here’s what you’ve lost sight of, John, and I’m really happy that your father and your wife are sitting in the front row so they can hear it!
John Cena: That’s the last time I’m gonna tell you, man, ease up.
Punk: What you’ve lost sight of is what you are, and what you are is what you hate. You’re the 10-time WWE Champion! You’re the man! You, like the Red Sox, like Boston, are no longer the underdog! You’re a dynasty. You are what you hate. You have become the New York Yankees! [John immediately punches Punk, who scoots out of the ring, grabs the contract, and goes up the ramp. Points respectively to Vince and John] You’re Steinbrenner, and you might as well be Jeter! Mr. 3000, I’m the underdog! [John's music plays for fourteen seconds] Turn it off! Turn the music off because I have something to say, and I’m positive that everybody here wants to hear it, and everybody sitting at home has their DVRs fired up because they wanna hear it! I’m glad you just punched me in the face, John. I’m glad it went down this way because it hit me like a bolt of lightning—exactly why I no longer wanna be here, why I wanna leave. It’s because I’m tired of this. I’m tired of you. I’m just tired. So ladies and gentlemen of the WWE Universe, Vince, John, Sunday night, say goodbye to the WWE Title, say goodbye to John Cena, and say goodbye to CM Punk! [Rips up the contract] I’ll go be the best in the world somewhere else.
Two weeks later, at Money in the Bank, CM Punk took on John Cena for the WWE Championship on his final night under contract with WWE.
The Summer Of Punk Return
Allsate Arena, Rosemont, IL. July 17,2011. Money In The Bank. The final match of the night was for the WWE Championship, with the Champion John Cena facing off against CM Punk. It was Punk’s final night under his WWE contract and he had promised to leave the company with the WWE Championship. Vince McMahon had threatened that, if Punk was able to do so, then Cena would be fired. Punk entered the ring to raucous cheers from his hometown Chicago crowd, while Cena received huge boos. This is Chicago, after all. It’s a tough town. The match started off with some chain wrestling which ended with Punk hitting a hip toss and a dropkick on Cena before both men teased hitting their finishing moves on each other, with Punk escaping the Attitude Adjustment and Cena escaping the GTS. Cena then seized the advantage with superior strength, hitting a bulldog, a hard clothesline and a fisherman suplex. Cena’s next attempt at an Attitude Adjustment was countered by Punk into a DDT. Punk then delivers a knee drop from the turnbuckles to the back of Cena’s neck. Then, when Punk tried to suplex Cena from the apron back into the ring, but Cena countered and nailed Punk with a vertical suplex from the apron to the concrete floor.
Back in the ring, both men traded punches and took each other out with a double clothesline. After multiple leaping shoulder blocks, Cena went for the spin-out powerbomb, but Punk countered with a roll-up. Punk then missed his corner step-up knee strike, so Cena hit the spin-out powerbomb and set up for the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Punk kicked Cena in the head and sent him to the outside, where he met Cena with a suicide dive. After sending Cena back into the ring, Punk missed a springboard clothesline and Cena executed the Five Knuckle Shuffle. After on, while Cena was leaning against the ropes, Punk nailed Cena with two step-up knee strikes and followed up with a bulldog and a springboard clothesline. Cena then ducked a Punk roundhouse kick and locked in the STF, causing Punk to struggle to reach the ropes. Punk then hit a roundhouse kick and attempted a diving crossbody, but Cena caught him in mid-air and again went for the Attitude Adjustment. Punk reversed it and attempted the GTS, but Cena countered into another STF which Punk reversed into his own signature hold, the Anaconda Vise. Cena managed to counter the hold and finally execute the Attitude Adjustment, however a resilient Punk kicked out. Cena then went for a diving legdrop, but Punk caught Cena and powerbombed him. Cena escaped the GTS and hit the diving legdrop and another massive Attitude Adjustment, but Punk again kicked out to the dismay of Cena and cheers from the crowd. Cena, pulling out all the stops, carried Punk to the second rope for a super Attitude Adjustment, but Punk prevented that by raining elbows on Cena and then a super frankensteiner. Punk hit a corner step-up knee striker and finally scored with a Go To Sleep, but Cena fell through the ropes and out of the ring.
As Punk attempted to send Cena back into the ring, he was distracted by Mr. McMahon making his way to ringside along with WWE EVP of Talent relations and current Raw & SmackDown General manager (And One of the most hated personalities in wrestling history) John Laurinaitis. Cena took advantage of the distraction and again applied the STF, which resulted in McMahon signalling to the referee to end the match and sending Laurinaitis to tell the timekeeper to ring the bell to end the match, reminiscent of the Montreal Screwjob between Bret hart and Shawn Michaels in 1997. However, Cena, wanting a clean finish, broke the hold, clotheslined Laurinaitis and told McMahon, “No, not this way. We’ll do it my way”. As Cena returned to the ring, CM Punk immediately hit a second GTS and pinned Cena to win his first ever WWE Championship as the crowd exploded into cheers.
McMahon then ordered the winner of the Raw Money in the Bank match, Alberto Del Rio, to immediately cash in his contract on Punk. As Del Rio was attempting to cash in, Punk took him out with a roundhouse kick to the head and, giving McMahon a flying kiss, fled the arena and left WWE as WWE Champion.
Money In The Bank received unanimous praise from fans and critics alike, in particular the main event between CM Punk and John Cena. The Sun’s Rob McNichol gave the main events positive reviews. He admired the match between CM Punk and John Cena calling it the best match that the WWE has seen for a long time, rating it a perfect 10 out of 10, stating that the hometown emotion and the reaction of the crowd to every one of Cena’s moves made that match so electric from the beginning to the end. That match received a 5-star rating from Dave Meltzer; the first match in the WWE to do so since the first Hell in a Cell match between Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker at Badd Blood: In Your House on October 5, 1997 and the first WWE match to do so not to feature either Michaels or Bret Hart. It also earned more honors; Match of the year by both Pro Wrestling Illustrated and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. The Punk/Cena Feud earned Feud of the Year by both PWI and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter as well.
The aftermath was just as shocking as the event.
The next night on Monday Night Raw in Green Bay, Wisconsin (Home of the Defending Super Bowl Champions Green Bay Packers), Mr. McMahon came out at the top of the program to address the WWE Championship issue. He ordered an immediate eight-man tournament for that night to declare a new WWE Champion. In the first round of the tournament, Rey Mysterio defeated Dolph Ziggler, R-Truth defeated Jack Swagger, Kofi Kingston defeated Alberto Del Rio, and The Miz defeated Alex Riley. The semifinals saw Mysterio defeat R-Truth and The Miz defeat Kingston. Just afterward, in an announcement presumably to follow through on the announced main-event stipulation that John Cena would be fired by Mr. McMahon, with Cena stating if he is fired, he would end up going to TNA if that would happen. The storyline took an unexpected twist as Triple H came out with an announcement of his own—that Mr. McMahon was being given a vote of “no confidence” by the WWE Board of Directors, and that Triple H would take on day-to-day operations of WWE, effectively firing McMahon instead. At this point, Triple H refused to follow through with firing Cena, nullifying that stipulation. Cena’s followers of Girls and kids can finally sigh for relief.
As a result of the announcement, the tournament final was pushed back to the next edition of Raw on July 25. In the show’s opening match, Mysterio defeated The Miz and won his first WWE Championship of his career. Later that night, Triple H gave John Cena an opportunity to win the title from Mysterio, in which he was successful, making him a 9-time WWE Champion, an all time record. After the match, CM Punk returned to Raw and had a stare down with Cena. On the August 1st edition of Monday Night Raw new Chief Operating Officer Triple H told the WWE Universe that he has re-signed CM Punk and made a match between CM Punk and John Cena at SummerSlam to determine the “true” WWE Champion.
The main event at SummerSlam in Los Angeles featured WWE Champion John Cena vs WWE Champion CM Punk, to determine the undisputed WWE Champion. Triple H served as guest referee. The match started slowly and was much reminiscent of their encounter at Money in the Bank. Both the champions tried to gain the upper hand and started hitting their signature maneuvers. At one point in the match, both the superstars were outside and were unable to answer the ten count, but Triple H brought them back in as he wanted a definitive undisputed Champion. Later, Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment, but Punk kicked out.
CM Punk then attempted his finisher, and nailed Cena with the GTS, but Cena kicked out.
After a back and forth match, the end came when CM Punk nailed a second GTS, and followed up for a pinfall, but Cena had his leg on the ropes, which should have resulted in a rope break, but Triple H didn’t see that, and thus allowed CM Punk to pin Cena. With this CM Punk became the Undisputed WWE Champion.
As Punk celebrated his WWE Championship win, Cena and Triple H left the ring, and Kevin Nash, a long time friend of Triple H then returned, and attacked CM Punk, and laid out the Champion with a Jackknife Powerbomb. This allowed Alberto Del Rio to hurry down to the ring with a referee to take advantage of the chaos, and he cashed in his Money in the Bank contract. After a Shining Wizard to the already fallen Champion, Del Rio pinned him to become the WWE Champion, his first title in WWE and his first World Championship. Thus the night ended with Alberto Del Rio winning the WWE Championship. The run of the Summer was over, just like that.
The Second Summer Ends, Just Like The Last One, But Different
The night after SummerSlam Punk accused Nash of conspiring with Triple H to keep Punk away from the WWE Championship.After repeated confrontations Nash and Punk demanded to face each other at Night of Champions, to which Triple H acquiesced. However, after CM Punk’s repeated verbal attacks towards him and his wife Stephanie McMahon, Triple H booked himself to replace Nash. At Night of Champions Punk lost a No Disqualification match after Nash, The Miz, and R-Truth attacked both men. Miz and Truth also attacked Punk at Hell in a Cell after he lost a WWE Championship Triple Threat match.He attempted to avenge this by teaming with Triple H against Miz and Truth at Vengeance, but lost again due to Nash attacking Triple H. This helped transition Punk’s anti-establishment voice from Triple H to John Laurinaitis who became the interim Raw General Manager. CM Punk balked at Laurinaitis’ promotion and verbally attacked him as a dull yes man.
The promo from CM Punk, which featured Cena, Sheamus, and Triple H is the same ring when everyone was walking out of the WWE.
Punk: I can’t help but feel a little resp… hell, who am I kidding? I feel like I started this whole thing. This is all my fault. I’ve been at the epicenter of everything controversial ever since you took over—actually, since before that, I’m sure you remember, John-Boy.
Cena: I was there.
Punk: You were there. I’m the guy that made walking out look cool. The thing about is I think everybody in the parking lot having a picnic right now have completely misunderstood what I was trying to do. See, I didn’t break my contract, I didn’t break my word. My contract expired, and I was trying to prove a point to an entire company, not just one man. If anybody has any reason to walk out of the WWE, well you can probably put me at the top of that list. I mean, my microphone constantly cuts out, your friend Kevin Nash runs through the…well, slowly, briskly runs through the crowd, jumps me and screws me not once, but twice. Somebody here doesn’t want me to be the WWE Champion. The thing about it is this entire industry is based on men solving their problems in between these ropes. This is the company that gives you Hell in a Cell, this is the company that gives you the Elimination Chamber. I don’t wanna sound like a broken record, but “unsafe working environment”? I thrive on that! Hell, this is professional wrestling, this ain’t ballet! If you believe in something, you stand and you fight, and you fight on the front line; you don’t have a hippie sit-in and grill tofu dogs in the parking lot like a bunch of hippies. [To Triple H] When I had a problem with you and your authority, I dealt with you personally. [To Cena] And you, you big boy scout, when I had a problem with you being the poster boy for this company, I dealt with you personally. Shea-Mo, I’m sure sooner or later, you’re gonna step on my toes, I will deal with you personally. Now, I know you three smiley good guys look across the ring from me, and I’m the last guy you expect to see here, [to Triple H] and I know I’m the last guy you expect to see in the foxhole with you. But you know what? Here I am. So…so I got a question—what do we do now?
Triple H: “What do we do now?” That’s a big question, “what do we do now?” I say we do what we do on Monday Night Raw—we shut up and fight! How about this? As long as you guys are in agreement, Sheamus, you got yourself a match, fella. Tonight, right here, right now, you will go one-on-one with… [Punk raises his hand] one John Cena. And since I’m the only guy kinda wearing stripes out here, I’ll referee. And, foxhole buddy, I got a whole table over there lined up with headphones and pipe bombs just waiting for you with your name on it. And if you want, you can go over there and say anything you feel like.
Punk: You want me to do commentary?!
Triple H: I want you to do commentary.
Punk: Can I wear your blazer?!
Triple H: You can even wear my blazer!
Punk: I’m in!
The summer may have ended, but CM Punk will still be rolling.
In short, CM Punk and Alissa Flash’s summers of controversy and victories has had memorable impact in wrestling history. The greatest moments in the ring during those incredible summers was the most exciting time for a wrestling fan. If it were to happen again, the fans would see it happen.