WWE: Comparing CM Punk's Reign as WWE Champion with His Predecessors

Richard WarrellAnalyst IIJune 23, 2012

(source: http://www.wrestling-match.com/tag/cm-punk-chest)
(source: http://www.wrestling-match.com/tag/cm-punk-chest)

CM Punk's current reign has already been impressive, lasting 216 days to date. But how does he compare to past world title holders? 

This article will focus on what I call the "pay-per-view era." Increasingly frequent PPVs led to a need to change champions more frequently in an effort to encourage audiences to buy every PPV and see the next step in the world title chase.

This period began with Hulk Hogan's four-year title reign coming to an end in February 1988.

Before then, a year-long world title reign would have been considered incredibly short. The business model was so different than it is today that it does not really work to compare the two.

With that in mind, where does CM Punk rank?


WWE Championship Reigns CM Punk Must Surpass to be the Most Successful Champion of the PPV era:

* John Cena — 380 days (September 16, 2006—October 2, 2007) 
* Randy Savage — 371 days (March 27, 1988—April 2, 1989)
* Hulk Hogan — 364 days (April 2, 1989—April 1, 1990)
* Diesel (Kevin Nash ) — 358 days (November 26, 1994—November 19, 1995)
* The Ultimate Warrior — 293 days (April 1, 1990—January 19, 1991)
* Yokozuna — 280 days (June 13, 1993—March 20, 1994)
* JBL (John "Bradshaw" Layfield ) — 280 days (June 27, 2004—April 5, 2005)
* John Cena — 280 days (April 5, 2005—January 8, 2006) 
* Hulk Hogan — 248 days (March 24, 1991—November 27, 1991)
* Bret Hart — 248 days (March 20, 1994—November 23, 1994) 
* Shawn Michaels — 231 days (March 31, 1996—November 17, 1996)
* CM Punk — 216-plus days (Since November 20, 2011) 

Punk's current reign is the longest since John Cena's 380-day reign, but since Cena's reign was the longest in this almost 25-year period, it is a slightly unfair benchmark to compare Punk to.

Note that The Rock and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin never held the title for such a lengthy time.

As a quick aside, it is worth noting that CM Punk has also been WWE champion longer than anyone ever held the ECW and WCW Championships when they were active within WWE.

There has been one World Heavyweight Championship run longer than Punk's current WWE champion reignTriple H's 280-day reign from December 15, 2002—September 21, 2003.


Where does CM Punk go from here? How long will he hold the title for?

Word behind the scenes is that John Cena will face CM Punk at SummerSlam 2012 for the WWE title. 

WWE has also teased that at the Night of Champions PPV on September 16, John Cena will challenge Punk for the title again, suggesting CM Punk will still hold the WWE championship until then.

His reign would be 301 days long at that stage. That would take him ahead of Triple H's longest World Heavyweight Champion run.

Here are the remaining names that stand between Punk and topping the list:

* John Cena — 380 days (September 16, 2006—October 2, 2007) 
* Randy Savage — 371 days (March 27, 1988—April 2, 1989)
* Hulk Hogan — 364 days (April 2, 1989—April 1, 1990)
* Diesel (Kevin Nash ) — 358 days (November 26, 1994—November 19, 1995)
* CM Punk — 301+ days (Since November 20, 2011) 

It is strange to see the IWC suggest the WWE is not serious about making CM Punk the new face of the WWE when you look at how short that list is.

I think WWE is trying to gradually phase out John Cena while encouraging the rise of CM Punk. CM Punk came off as the stronger man in their feud last year.

Since then, John Cena has consistently performed in main events, while CM Punk has not, but consider how Cena has done in the main events. He was left bloodied by Brock Lesnar and he lost to The Rock at WrestleMania.

At Survivor Series 2011, he was made to look like the weak man in his tag team with The Rock.

Meanwhile, CM Punk has dominated all in his path.

It was pointed out in a comment in my most recent article that Triple H has to feud with Brock Lesnar, because with Lesnar only appearing on a limited schedule, he is not a legitimate WWE Championship contender.

I think this is also the reason why John Cena was put up against Lesnar first.

I have a number of thoughts on how the switch from Cena to Punk will continue. One idea is having been put over by Cena, The Rock may put over Punk at WrestleMania 29.

Another is to have Cena continue to struggle against Johnny Ace, until Punk swoops in and wins the fight for the good guys.

The incoming WWE Network, too, will encourage longer title reigns, as the shift will move away from PPV buys.

We may yet live to see CM Punk's title reign surpass Cena's 380-day record.