The match between John Cena and CM Punk for the WWE Championship was one of the most emotionally charged matches in recent memory. Punk was in his home town of Chicago and was planning to leave the company with the WWE Championship. John Cena, as the face of the company, was determined to stop him but he had the threat of losing his job over him, thanks to Vince McMahon. I can’t remember the last time that such a match outside Wrestlemania had so much anticipation. I found this to be an interesting feud between the two because in this match the roles were reversed. Cena was supposed to be the hero who is saving the WWE by defeating Punk, keeping the WWE Championship in the company. However, even though he was in Chicago, Punk was being cheered because he represented what fans wanted in the WWE: change.
There are many reasons why this match was the Match of the Year. First of all, the entrances. Punk name was being chanted all through the night and the reaction when his music (which at the time was “This Fire Burns” by Killswitch Engage) was unbelievable. Punk’s mane was being chanted loudly with signs about him all over the place. Jerry Lawler summed it perfectly when he said it was like the NFL team Chicago Bears were in the Superbowl, and it was taking place at their own stadium, Soldier Field. It was the complete opposite when Cena’s music hit as the boos were deafening. I liked the way that Cena didn’t do his salute as he was effectively in enemy territory and it showed how serious he was taking this match.
All during the match, you can see that no matter what Cena did, Punk would find some way to get out of it. He kicked out of 2 Attitude Adjustments, and managed to get out of the STF 3 times, including one time when Punk reversed it into his submission move, the Anaconda Vice. This match had you completely hooked in and it went on for a good 25-30 minutes.
The end was when the WWE made you feel that they would play it safe and screw Punk (and the crowd) over. Vince McMahon came out with John Laurinaitis (did you know that he’s the Executive Vice President of Talent Relations?) and when Cena hit the STF yet again, McMahon send Laurinaitis to go and ring the bell, but he is stopped by Cena who doesn’t want the match to end that way. Cena’s decision comes back to haunt him when Punk hits Cena with the GTS to get the win, sending the crowd wild.
McMahon, obviously, wasn’t happy with that and goes to plan B, getting Alberto Del Rio (who had won the RAW MITB match earlier on) to come out. However, Punk, who had been expecting that, kicks Del Rio in the head, gives McMahon a goodbye kiss and runs off into the sunset, never to be seen in the WWE again (well, 8 days).
World renowned reporter Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter gave this match 5 stars. It was the first time that he had done that for a WWE match since the Hell in a Cell match between the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels in 1997. That fact, to me, speaks for itself. From the promo video and the entrances, to the match and the ending, everything worked so well. I don’t think that I have seen such an emotionally charged match since Ric Flair vs Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 24 and I don’t know the next time that I will see something like that again.