CM Punk's current reign as WWE Champion has already earned him a reign within the top 10 longest in the history of the title, which turns 50 years old next April. Presently at 313 days and counting, Punk's reign is the longest in WWE since John Cena's reign in 2007-2008, which is among the nine reigns longer than Punk's. With Cena as the current challenger to Punk's title and Cena nursing an injury, it seems very unlikely that Punk will even need to defend that WWE Championship before Hell in a Cell at the end of October.
The date of Hell in a Cell, which is October 28, would leave Punk with 343 days on the night of the pay-per-view. Should he retain at Hell in a Cell, Punk would be moving up within the top 10 reigns. Punk would tie Diesel's reign from 1994-95 on the November 12 episode of RAW and would tie Hulk Hogan's reign from 1989-90 on November 18, the date of Survivor Series. Surviving that night would help Punk pass another reign exactly one week later, when Punk would tie Randy Savage's reign from 1988-89. Nine days later, on December 9, Punk would tie John Cena's 380-day reign from 2006-07.
The real problem for Punk is that he is entering the danger zone in many world title reigns. The fall and winter seasons are notorious for title changes and Punk needs to be aware of not making it into 2013 as WWE Champion under this same reign. In fact, the nine longer WWE Championship reigns have all ended between the months of October and April, the month when WrestleMania XXIX takes place in MetLife Stadium. That road really belongs in the month of October, which was the month when Cena's reign ended in 2007. That was due to an injury, but it still was one of many October WWE Championship changes.
In the last 10 years, a WWE Championship has changed hands 10 times in either the months of October or November, nine of which were in the last five years. The 14 title changes in November make that month the one that most frequently yields a new WWE Champion being crowned. This basically translates to the fact that, should Punk make it through Hell in a Cell, making it past Survivor Series is next to impossible. Ironically, it was Punk at that same event one year earlier that started this entire title reign.
The main focus for Punk has to be on a potential end in either October or November. With little reason to have it all end at TLC in December, Punk would likely start 2013 with the same title reign and prep for a matchup with The Rock at Royal Rumble.
If he still is champion when Royal Rumble comes, Punk will have been champion for 420 days, marking the first time in a quarter century that a WWE Championship reign will have lasted for over 400 days. With the altercations between The Rock and Punk at RAW 1,000, as well as The Rock's vow to be WWE Champion again, is it possible that it all ends in January?
Quite simply put, it almost has to end at a major event. Taking away the live event days of Bruno Sammartino and Pedro Morales, there is always an unusual incident or big event where the title is lost. For Bob Backlund's 2,135-day reign, it all came to a halt in December 1983 when his manager literally threw in the towel to spare Backlund from The Camel Clutch. Backlund never submitted. The 1,474 days of Hulk Hogan as champion ended at The Main Event in February 1988. Hogan lifted his shoulder prior to the three count, but was counted as pinned anyway by what turned out to be an evil twin of the referee. Cena lost his 380-day reign in 2007 by vacating it due to injury.
For the other guys, it is a Big Four pay-per-view all the way. Diesel's reign of 358 days as champion was halted at the 1995 Survivor Series. On consecutive years, Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan both had their reigns ended at WrestleManias V and VI, respectively. Unless something absurd and unusual happens, it's safe to say that Punk's title reign likely is stopped at a Big Four pay-per-view event, where 37 of the 110 reigns in WWE Championship history have begun.
Historically, Punk's reign will be revered and treasured as a long-term champion has existed in our present times of constant pay-per-views and John Cena looming around most of the time. I don't quite see how Punk will be viewed among these all-time greats, but he still deserves to end his long reign like those great men have: at a big event in the fall or winter.
The bumpy road is here for Punk with multiple places to stop that would be appropriate. Could it be at Survivor Series, the same event he won the title at a year earlier? Will Punk drop the title to the legend known as The Rock at Royal Rumble? Will Punk somehow make it to WrestleMania XXIX before losing his cherished title? Then again, Punk is only roughly two years away from challenging 1,000 straight days as champion.