I wrote about this live in July 2011, so let's go to the play-by-play recap, followed by my analysis.
Match Details: There's an early "You Can't Wrestle" chant in the direction of Cena. Punk goes for the Anaconda Vice. Cena counters into an armbar to slow it down. Punk gets a hiptoss and dropkick followed by a side headlock. The crowd approves. They each attempt their finisher, but neither guy hits it.
Five minutes in. Not a whole lot has happened, although the story so far is the awesome crowd reactions. Cena hits a big clothesline and then grabs a headlock. They're obviously going to get a lot of time, which is why they're slowing it down like this. I'm OK with that. Tell me a story. Punk gets a backdrop for two. There's a dueling "CM Punk/Let's Go Cena" chant. I guess there are kids in the crowd since some are chanting for Cena. Two count for Cena after the Fisherman Suplex.
At the 10-minute mark, Punk drops a knee across Cena's neck while it was draped over the ring apron. Cool spot. Punk misses a charge into the corner. They're both hurting. Punk grabs another chinlock. The crowd is quiet for the first time all match. Now the announcers acknowledge the "CM Punk/Let's Go Cena" chants.
Punk hits a crossbody for two. Cena selling a knee injury now. From the apron, Cena suplexes Punk over the top and all the way to the floor. That's a spot that they tease a lot, but don't often do. That's a very physical bump. The announcers point out that Cena's left knee is hurting him. Cena hits a Fisherman's Suplex and an elbow for two. Cena hits a modified powerslam for two. Nice move. Just passed 15 minutes.
They do a dueling punch-off with the crowd chanting favorably for Punk while booing Cena. Punk breaks out of the abdominal stretch and then they do a double-clothesline to do the 10-count. Cena gets up with the shoulderblocks, but Punk counters with a rollup for two. Cena hits his slam. Cena goes for Five Knuckle Shuffle, so Punk kicks him in the face, then knees him out of the ring and hits a dive out to the floor as they crash into the barricade around ringside. That was an awesome sequence. How many guys counter the Five Knuckle Shuffle? Crowd loves it. I do too. My kind of people. We're at 20 minutes now.
Punk misses his springboard clothesline. Cena comes back to hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Punk counters the AA and uses a series of kicks to put Cena down, earning a two count. Cena counters the GTS with a Gutwrench suplex for two. Punk counters the AA. He hits two running knees to the jaw followed by a bulldog. The springboard forearm gets two for Punk.
The replay of the knee to the face was awesome. Cena ducks a spin kick and then he puts Punk into the STF. After about 30 seconds, Punk made it to the ropes. Punk recovers, hits a side kick to the head and that gets two. Another awesome near fall. We're at the 25-minute mark. Crowd has been amazing for all of it.
Punk hits a Crossbody, Cena catches him. He goes for the AA, but Punk counters. He goes for the GTS, Cena avoids it and puts him in the STF. Punk is close to the ropes. Cena pulls him out, puts the STF on and Punk counters out of it with the Anaconda Vince. Cena fights out with the Attitude Adjustment. One, two…no!
That's the best near fall of the night. Loud "CM Punk" chants erupt. Cena goes to the top for his leg drop, but Punk avoids it and hits a powerbomb on Cena for a near fall. Punk signals for the Go To Sleep. Cena makes it to the ropes and uses the ropes to choke Punk. Cena to the top. He hits the leg drop on the back of the head. That gets two as Cena has one of his "What can I do?" faces. We're at 30 minutes now.
Cena hits the AA. Punk lifts his left shoulder up. Cole: "No! Not Again!" He wants Cena to win to keep the belt in WWE. Cena's frustrated by it, wondering why he can't win the match. Cena lifts Punk to the top, he goes for a top-rope AA, but Punk fights out with elbows. He gets a top-rope hurricanrana that sends Cena to the other side of the ring. Punk hits a running knee. Go To Sleep by Punk hits Cena in the ribs instead of the face. Cena rolls out to the floor.
Cue Vince McMahon in a suit as well as John Laurinaitis (Johnny Ace), a talent executive. They watch from the aisle. Vince calls for the bell. Laurinaitis runs to the ring, but Cena punches him in the face. He tells Vince he wants to do it his way. Cena goes back in, Punk hits the GTS and he is the new WWE Champion! Crowd goes absolutely nuts! Match went 35 minutes.
After the match, Alberto Del Rio came out to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase after Vince McMahon told him to. Punk dropped him with a kick to the head. Punk left with the title through the crowd. He blew Vince a kiss goodbye, much to the delight of the capacity crowd.
Analysis: This was my match of the year in 2011. It's also the match that was the biggest of CM Punk's career, in my opinion. He could top it, but it will depend on the build of the match and who the opponent is. That image of Punk leaving with the WWE Title through the crowd will be everlasting.
They worked a slow style early on and then it built up to an exciting finish, especially in the last 10 minutes. Punk kicked out of his finisher. He survived the STF. Then he beat Cena clean, relatively, and the crowd absolutely loved it. That was an awesome moment to cap off a really well-built match. The moment is what people will remember more, but the match was one of the best in WWE history, too.
This was the kind of wrestling match that a fan like myself lives to watch for. It was special. The crowd certainly helped, too, but the guys in the match deserve a hell of a lot of praise as well.
I also think Punk's win meant more because it was against John Cena. If it was against somebody else it would have been good, but because of who he beat in his hometown of Chicago, it made it extra special.
CM Punk vs. John Cena at Money in the Bank is one of the best matches in the history of WWE. It took place at one of the best pay-per-views in WWE history. Due to those reasons, it was unquestionably one of the greatest moments in the career of CM Punk.