2011 was a year in which so many wrestlers seem to stand up and be counted. However, CM Punk stood up head and shoulders above the rest with an undoubtedly tremendous year.
While Punk is more famous for what he did in the summer and beyond, let’s not forget what he did before that. Punk took over the Nexus from Wade Barrett and started a feud with first John Cena and then Randy Orton, leading to a match at Wrestlemania XXVII followed by a last man standing match at Extreme Rules.
Punk’s feud against John Cena really made Punk a massive hit with the fans. Punk was supposed to be the villain in this feud as he was threatening to leave the company with the WWE Championship. However, he was being cheered because he seemed to be the personification of people want from the WWE: change. This led to an excellent match at Money in the Bank after which Punk left running off into the sunset. He returned to face Cena at Summerslam and, even though he won, lost the WWE Championship thanks to Alberto Del Rio cashing in his MITB contract (with some inadvertent help from Kevin Nash).
This was when the WWE seem to drop the ball with Punk. While it was understandable to bring Punk back after 8 days, I feel that it would have been better if they waited at least a month before returning. After Summerslam, Punk seemed to drop out of the title picture in favour of John Cena (for a change). He was involved with Triple H in a feud then decided to ally himself with HHH against The Miz and R-Truth. During this time, Punk overtook Cena as the No. 1 seller of merchandise. WWE seemed to realise what they were doing and made Punk Champion once again when he defeated Alberto Del Rio at Survivor Series. Punk has ended the year involved in a feud with John Laurinaitis (did you know that he’s the Executive Vice President of Talent Relations and the interim GM of RAW?)
Punk has had a tremendous year becoming one of the most loved wrestlers in the WWE, as evidenced by the cheers that he receives when he comes out and the amount of “Best in the World” T-Shirts that are seen worn in every arena. It is hoped that 2012 will continue to be the era of Punk as it would be a nice change from Cena being in the title picture.