At last year's Survivor Series event, CM Punk went against all odds and soundly defeated Alberto Del Rio to win his second WWE Championship in Madison Square Garden. Now, nearly 11 months later, I still can't believe that his unbroken WWE title reign is still intact.
Each pay-per-view, I almost always predict CM Punk's opponent to go over and take home the title, but the Voice of the Voiceless continues to shock the world and maintain possession of the prestigious prize. With a near-year of marvelous matchups under his belt (no pun intended), there's no denying that he's lived up the hype and restored prestige into the WWE Championship.
Over the course of the last 11 months, Punk has successfully defended his title against the likes of Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan and most recently John Cena. Each of Punk's adversaries have given the Straightedge Superstar a run for his money. Punk's ability to instantly create chemistry with anyone he steps in the ring with has made for some extremely awesome matches since last November, of course, with the strap up for grabs as well.
In total, Punk has valiantly defended his WWE Championship in 14 televised matches since winning it, but I'll only be highlighting the top 10 and where they rank amongst Punk's greatest title defenses of his lengthy reign. With Hell in a Cell looming, is it only a matter of time before the Second City Saint's reign as WWE Champion goes up in smoke?
Immediately following his title defense against John Cena at Raw 1000, WWE Champion CM Punk proceeded to "turn his back" (as Jerry Lawler would say) on the WWE Universe by attacking the returning Rock. From that point forward, the audience's perception of Punk changed completely, and he's since turned full-fledged heel as of late August.
Prior to turning fully heel, Punk was still a borderline champion, where his reaction would be split as decided by the WWE Universe. Both Cena and Big Show had a beef with Punk and were granted a shot at the title in a Triple Threat match at SummerSlam.
Although the event wasn't highly praised by fans (I, for one, enjoyed it), the WWE title match was still a fun contest that saw Punk and Cena attempting to overcome the monstrosity that was the Big Show. In the end, the Voice of the Voiceless tossed Cena out of the ring to pick up the scraps for himself and thus retain his WWE title.
Coincidentally, this would be the second straight year Punk defeated the Cenation leader to retain his golden prize at the summer spectacular.
Shortly after losing his United States Championship to Zack Ryder at WWE TLC, Dolph Ziggler set his sights on CM Punk's WWE Championship. He managed to defeat Punk on various occasions, thus earning himself a shot at the gold at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
While a majority of the focus was on then-Interim Raw General Manager John Laurinaitis, Ziggler made sure he wasn't overlooked at the event by showcasing his athletic abilities against Punk. Punk and Ziggler had instant chemistry in a contest that was easily named match of the night.
Although Ziggler came up short of winning the gold, he had a very impressive showing against the Voice of the Voiceless that night and solidified himself as a true threat to the WWE Championship. The two didn't cross paths in a one-on-one bout since then until just recently, where Punk repeated history and defeated Ziggler on an episode of Friday Night SmackDown.
However, that wouldn't be the last time Dolph Ziggler received a shot at the WWE Championship, as he was named one of the five contenders for CM Punk's golden prize at Elimination Chamber. Of course, the title of the event says it all: the WWE Championship would be defended inside the steel structure for the first time in nearly two years.
Of the many Elimination Chamber matches to occur over the last decade, a majority of the champions walking into the chamber don't walk out with their title intact. Punk was determined to outlast each of the credible contenders and advance to the main event of WrestleMania as the WWE Champion.
Once Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston, R-Truth and Chris Jericho were eliminated the bout, Punk soundly defeated The Miz to maintain possession of his title. Despite opening the show, this chamber was truly seen as the one of the few highlights of this lackluster pay-per-view.
Despite coming up short to WWE Champion CM Punk at Over the Limit, Daniel Bryan still believed he deserved another shot at the prestigious prize. However, he wasn't the only one, as Kane also quickly entered the fray and made his intentions clear that his sights were set on the WWE title.
After weeks of drama on both Raw and SmackDown, it culminated in a Triple Threat at No Way Out over the WWE title. Of course, the X-factor in this particular matchup was AJ, who had been the center of controversy between the three throughout the month of June.
It wasn't until the final moments of the match that AJ made an appearance, distracting Kane to allow Punk score the victory. This came following an excellent contest that saw each of the three competitors look strong once it concluded.
On what was rather a forgettable show, Punk's successful title defense against both Kane and Bryan made it entertaining during the course of their contest.
This year's No Way Out and SummerSlam pay-per-views respectively weren't the only events that saw CM Punk come out of a Triple Threat match on top with his WWE title still intact, as 2011's TLC event was his first official test as WWE Champion.
After failing to regain the WWE Championship on an edition of Raw in late November, Alberto Del Rio earned a spot in the title match at WWE TLC by defeating Daniel Bryan to qualify. Also that night, The Miz shockingly upset Randy Orton via count-out, thus cementing his spot in the WWE title match at WWE TLC.
In the first-ever three-way TLC match at the event of the same name, the three valiant competitors stole the show with their fantastic performance. Despite the odds, Punk still managed to grab hold of his golden strap that was dangling above the ring and retained his WWE Championship.
From the moment CM Punk dropped a "pipebomb" on the WWE Universe last June and began pronouncing that he was in fact the best wrestler in the world, an encounter with Chris Jericho was almost inevitable.
Once Jericho returned to WWE on the premiere episode of Raw in 2012, it was all but confirmed that he'd be targeting Punk and his WWE Championship come WrestleMania 28.
In the weeks preceding the show of shows, Jericho mocked Punk's straightedge style and even took shots at Punk's family. By that point, the feud grew personal, and their match at WrestleMania 28 was sure to be a wrestling classic.
Despite the fact a meaningless stipulation was added to the match moments before it began, that didn't stop the Voice of the Voiceless from forcing Jericho to submit to his Anaconda Vise maneuver.
It seemed as if the two held back a bit during the course of their contest, but it was still a solid matchup that marks Punk's first singles victory at Mania in his career.
After months of exchanging victories, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan were set to do battle one last time at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view with the WWE Championship on the line.
Shortly prior to the event, AJ was named the special guest referee for the title bout, which made the match all the more intriguing and unpredictable.
Similar to their Over the Limit encounter, Punk and Bryan wrestled for nearly 30 minutes, blasting each other with a variety of weapons.
Unlike the previously aforementioned bout, this particular match was contested without disqualifications, so it more so told a story through the use of the weapons rather than the non-stop wrestling.
In the end, Punk was once again able to defeat the American Dragon and walk out of Phoenix still the WWE Champion.
As previously stated, I enjoyed the WWE Championship match between CM Punk and Chris Jericho at WrestleMania 28, but I still felt as if they were holding back a bit. The feud resumed the following day on Raw, so I had hope that we'd witness the true magic these two could create in the ring at Extreme Rules.
For weeks, Punk was made to look like the underdog during the rivalry since Jericho's incessant bullying of the Voice of the Voiceless made him look much more sympathetic and vulnerable as WWE Champion.
Adding to the fact that the Extreme Rules event occurred in Punk's hometown of Chicago, it only helped enhance the electric environment and high anticipation of the matchup.
Personally, I found this match to be more wrestling-oriented than Punk's Money in the Bank clash with Daniel Bryan, so I enjoyed it just a bit more than the aforementioned bout.
Not only that, but Punk's family being in attendance for the show was also a nice touch, as Punk's little sister even got the chance to slap the taste out of Jericho's mouth.
After a brawl filled with flying elbows through tables and brutal kendo stick shots, Punk connected with the GTS onto Jericho to maintain possession of his WWE Championship.
Following his loss of the World Heavyweight Championship in October 2009, CM Punk was largely under utilized during his time as a hated heel. Both the Straightedge Society and New Nexus factions gradually met their respective demises, and he was hardly ever featured in the World title picture.
That was, however, until June 2011, where Punk spoke his mind during his infamous rant promo during his quest to defeat John Cena for the WWE Championship at Money in the Bank. After defeating Cena multiple times that summer, the feud between the two came to a close once Alberto Del Rio entered the fray.
Fast forward a year later and it seems as if Punk and Cena have picked up where they left off, with Cena chasing WWE Champion CM Punk.
Despite failing to recapture the title at SummerSlam apart of a Triple Threat match, the Cenation leader was granted another shot at the strap at the Night of Champions event, live in front of his (billed) hometown of Boston.
In what was one of the best matches to be contested this year, the two heated rivals showcased their fantastic chemistry during their clinic of a match at Night of Champions.
Ultimately, the contest concluded in a controversial tie when both Punk's and Cena's shoulders were on the mat for the three count.
That being said, I hope to see the next chapter on their monumental rivalry at Hell in a Cell, but that highly anticipated bout is up in the air in the moment with the status of Cena's current injury in question.
Upon Daniel Bryan's WWE arrival in February 2010, a match between him and CM Punk was all that was ever dreamed about by members of the IWC. They were both involved in the inaugural season of NXT, but didn't happen to cross paths at all.
A feud between the two seemed likely that fall when Daniel Bryan was the United States Championship, but an unexpected injury suffered by Punk kept that from coming to fruition.
It wasn't until a year and a half later that we finally received our first look at the ruthless rivalry on Raw in January 2012, where then-World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan took on WWE Champion CM Punk in a champion vs. champion match.
Needless to say, that dream match has been one of the best bouts to be contested on Raw so far this year, so a feud between the two had to happen at some point. Although it kicked out a bit earlier than some would've hoped, Bryan earned No. 1 contendership to Punk's WWE title at Over the Limit.
Despite the highly anticipated match's lack of build leading up the event, Punk and Bryan still delivered what was one of the greatest matches of 2012. The two former Ring of Honor stars battled for nearly 30 minutes, but unlike most matches, it felt like it went by in an instant.
The American Dragon had his signature submission maneuver locked in on Punk, but the Straightedge Savior didn't tap out to the brutal hold until after he had already pinned Bryan for the valiant victory. The rest of their rivalry was awesome as well, but none of their matches quite lived up to the same success of this particular one.
With the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view quickly approaching, there's a very good chance that we might see a new No. 1 on this list depending on who his challenger will be at the event, but only time will tell.
Thanks for reading, Bleachers, and be sure to drop a comment below with your thoughts on the list and how you would possibly rearrange it. As always, your criticism and overall feedback on my latest piece is welcomed and greatly appreciated.
Visit my website at Next Era Wrestling, like me on Facebook and listen to my SAVE US GSM radio show every Wednesday night at 10/9c for more of my thoughts and writings, along with WWE/TNA news, reviews, recaps and more.