SummerSlam 2011 – Champion vs. Champion
This is another one of the events that I was live and in attendance for. I couldn’t wait to get to California so I could go to SummerSlam. I wasn’t even watching wrestling a few months earlier, and yet there I was, sitting in the Staples Center, waiting for CM Punk versus John Cena.
It was Punk who got me back into the show. All it took was for him to sit down at the top of the entrance ramp and drop a couple pipe bombs. I couldn’t believe I was watching wrestling. It had been so long since anyone made me question what was real.
By chance, I tuned in to Raw that night in June. I remember texting all my friends and telling them to turn on wrestling. I believe the messages went something to the tune of, “turn on wrestling. CM Punk is murdering it on the microphone.”
The promo led to Money in the Bank, where John Cena and CM Punk put on the first Five Star match for the WWE in almost fifteen years. This is the continuation. His win in Chicago at MitB began the sequel to the Summer of Punk. What’s that, you ask? Well, back before CM Punk was a WWE Superstar; he was a wrestler over at Ring of Honor. He was one of their biggest stars, which was enough for him to catch the attention of Vince McMahon – who, in turn, offered the Straight Edged Superstar a contract to come work for him.
When he won the ROH Heavyweight Title, Punk turned full on heel and told the Ring of Honor fans that he hated them and he was going to take the belt over to WWE. He even used it to sign the WWE contract on top of! It was one of the biggest angles in the business, at the time. It spread all over the place. I remember people telling me about it while it was happening, but I never looked into it. When I finally did, this was the video that I found.
Tell me that doesn’t get you all amped up to watch some wrestling.
All of this was flying through my head while I was getting ready to go to California in August of 2011. I actually had business to get up to out there, but Punk grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go. After he won the title at Money in the Bank, Punk was off television for a while. They had to sell it the right way. People had to believe he actually left the company. He started doing all kinds of cool things during this period. He was on Jimmy Kimmel, he crashed a WWE Comic-Con panel, and so on and so forth. It was the Summer of Punk II. He was all over the place.
While this was happening, back in the WWE Universe, the new COO Triple H had to find a new WWE Champion. So he held a tournament on Monday Night Raw, which was eventually won by Rey Mysterio, of all people. Then, the Master of the 619 answered John Cena’s challenge for a Championship match, and he lost, setting the stage for a possible rematch.
That’s what everyone wanted to see. They wanted Cena and Punk to go out and blow the roof off the Staples Center, same way they did in Chicago. Prayers were answered when, moments after John won the Championship, the song Cult of Personality by Living Colour started to play. I’ll be honest; when it happened, I had no idea what was going on. I was completely unaware that CM Punk had used that song before for a theme, so when he walked through the curtain, I was psyched.
NOTE: Before I continue, I’d like to acknowledge that there was in fact a full card for SummerSlam 2011. It really wasn’t that great, in my opinion. I flew to the other side of the country specifically so I could see the rematch between CM Punk and John Cena. The only match nearly as interesting was Daniel Bryan vs. Wade Barrett, but that’s only because I’m a fan of Daniel Bryan and this was the first time I got to see him wrestle in person.
Back on subject: With Punk back in the WWE, this created two Champions. Both Punk and Cena had legitimate claim to the belt. Triple H’s solution was to put them in a unification match at SummerSlam to determine the Undisputed WWE Champion. I was on the edge of my seat during the entirety of this match. Thankfully my phone and my camera both had died, so there was no chance of any distractions. I was buckled in and ready for the ride.
And what a ride it was. It was back and forth, same as MitB, but this time Punk got a cleaner win. I remember sitting in the audience and thinking, “wow, really, that’s it?”
Not that it was bad or anything. I was surprised they’d let CM Punk go over John Cena like that. He outright won the match. There was nothing for the Doctor of Thuganomics to hang his hat on. No excuses to fall back on. Nothing. CM Punk was the clear-cut winner. “Something’s got to be up,” I thought.
How right I was. My sister and I are standing up to leave and out of nowhere, we both hear, “is that Diesel?”
So I turned right around, and lo and behold, Big Sexy Kevin Nash was in fact in the ring. For those of you who have seen this, you know where I’m going. Nash hit Punk with a devastating Jackknife Power Bomb, leaving him in a pile in the middle of the ring.
Then, wouldn’t you know it, Alberto Del Rio’s music hit and out came the current Money in the Bank briefcase holder. He cashed in that night and took apart a helpless CM Punk, winning himself the WWE Championship. This was only round one between Alberto and Punk…
The next round came at Survivor Series 2011, which I was also present for. I intend on getting into that and more in the oncoming series 434 Days, which will serve the purpose of allowing me to cover all of CM Punk’s Pay-per-view title defenses during his record-setting reign as WWE Champion.