Throughout its history, World Wrestling Entertainment has been known to create intriguing storylines, which sometimes lead to an unforgettable series of matches between two “rivals.” The hottest story of the summer involved C.M. Punk, John Cena and the WWE Championship. The first of the two matches took place on July 17, 2011 at the “Money in the Bank” pay-per-view.

That event was held in Chicago, which was Punk’s hometown. Usually, the crowd responds somewhat favorably toward Cena, but on that night, the crowd went ballistic for their hometown hero. It was a fantastic battle that went a little over thirty minutes. Cheering wildly throughout the contest, excited fans were unable to contain their thrill and jubilance. The finish saw Cena applying his “STF” submission on Punk, as Vince McMahon, and John Laurenatis (the Executive Vice President of Talent Relations,) walked toward the ring. (Punk verbally blasted both these men the month before on Raw, in probably the best, most realistic promo, I have ever heard on WWE television.) Cena then realized that McMahon had ordered Laurenatis to ring the bell. He released the hold, rolled to the outside of the ring, and punched the VP of Talent Relations, to the delight of the crowd. “Not this way,” were the words Cena told to the owner of the WWE. He obviously knew that Vince was trying to recreate the infamous “Montreal Screwjob.” When Cena went back into the ring, Punk was on feet, and applied his “Go to Sleep” finisher. Loud cheers erupted, as the referee slowly counted to three. Screams echoed in the building, as their hero won one of the greatest battles of his life. After the match, an elated Punk left the ring, walking and acknowledging the fans with the WWE title. Vince, shocked and startled, was left wondering what to do now that the title is gone with someone who was no longer under contract. Punk’s contract expired that same night. So, the WWE was without a champion. A dilemma indeed.

However, Rey Mysterio won a tournament and earned a new WWE Championship title, but lost it the same night to John Cena, in a match made by the new Chief Operating Officer (in the storylines)Triple H. It was also revealed that he re-signed Punk because “it was good for business,” and then announced a match between Punk and Cena at Summerslam to determine the undisputed WWE Champion. HHH appointed himself as the special guest referee.

Summerslam was held on August 14, 2011, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Fans were anxious to witness the Cena/Punk championship confrontation. Unlike the “Money in the Bank” event, Cena was cheered a little more, but Punk still received most of the crowd support. The ending was similar to the match the month before, but with a twist. Punk applied the “Go to Sleep” on Cena. Triple H counted to three, allowing Punk to become the undisputed champion, despite the fact John’s foot was under the bottom rope. As Triple H left the ring, Kevin Nash came through the crowd and laid Punk out with a powerbomb. Then, just as I thought would happen, Alberto Del Rio (who won the MITB briefcase at the “Money in the Bank” event,) “cashed it in” on the exhausted champion. Del Rio hit Punk with a big kick to the side of the head. The referee counted to three, and Alberto Del Rio became the new champion, much to the fans dismay, disgust and shock. Loud boos were heard inside Staples Center.

Both Championship matches were well-fought, dramatic affairs, which had fans on the edge of their seats throughout. While the Summerslam match created interest and questions, for the RAW shows in the following weeks, specifically surrounding Kevin Nash’s attack on Punk, why it was done, and who put him up to it, the atmosphere in Chicago, the love and admiration for C.M. Punk, and the positive response to Punk winning the title, and escaping through the crowd made the “Money in the Bank” match, in my opinion the better of the two contests. Either way, the two athletes should be applauded for putting forth matches that will be talked about for months, maybe years, to come. The WWE should also be acknowledged for the storyline they developed leading to the great matches for their viewers. Who knows what drama will unfold in the next few months.

Azeem Kayum

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