To view the match in its entirety, click here.
Cena and Punk made their entrances to a much more bi-partisan crowd. Instead of Chicago, Illinois like Money in the Bank, SummerSlam took place inside Los Angeles, California’s Staples Center.
The special guest referee Triple H lifted two WWE Championships above his head, a first for even him, a man who had held 13 world championships in his illustrious career.
Next, The Game searched both competitors before signaling for the bell. Punk and Cena locked up in a first-time and very possibly last-time scenario. Never before had there been two men simultaneously holding the WWE Championship.
Punk wrenched in his headlock off the lock-up and bounced off the ropes for a shoulder block. He went for a pin that Cena kicked out of with ease, but Punk’s goal was to tire Cena as quickly as possible. The more times he was forced to kickout, the less energy he would have.
Cena took Punk down with an armbar but was unsuccessful in keeping the Cult of Personality on the mat. He popped back up, and the two were at stalemate, not unlike many times during the previous pay-per-view.
Another lock-up resulted in a third stalemate early on as Triple H circled the ring. Many viewed Triple H’s position as COO and referee to be a possible conflict of interest. Would he allow business to get in the way of counting either man’s shoulders down for the count? Would past issues with Cena bubble to the surface? Would the harsh words from the mouth of CM Punk finally emerge and backfire on the Straight Edge Superstar?
Only time would tell.
Both Cena and Punk were walking on eggshells early. They didn’t want to be the one to make the first mistake and to end the match before it really got going. They knew this was a marathon, not a sprint, so they wrestled as such. They were going to keep it safe for now and save more high-risk moves for the closing minutes when the bout was going to ultimately be decided.
Booker T reminisced back to SummerSlam 2001 when one mistake on his part, which was simply losing his focus, cost him his match against The Rock. It wouldn't take much for Cena or Punk’s efforts to go down in vain if they made that one mistake.
A very technical wrestling match began to unfold to the thousands in attendance and millions watching around the world. As much flak as Cena has received for not being able to wrestle, he was wrestling a very submission-oriented style early against a man whose style reeked of the Indies. Booker T even admitted the match was too technical for his taste.
While Punk was better versed in submission maneuvers, Cena was the bigger man and could suck the life out of Punk by grounding him. Neither man could assert his dominance as the match neared the halfway mark, and the crowd became more anxious. Was the company man or the ultimate rebel going to prevail with the company’s top prize?
Punk’s educated knees came into play, and he started to methodically wear down Cena. Many knees to the sternum and pin attempts, followed by leg scissors, would wind the leader of the CeNation. Cena broke out of the leg scissors and attempted the STF without much success.
Punk rushed to the apron to suplex him over the ropes; however, Cena refused and forced Punk to settle for a neck breaker against the steel cables known as the ring ropes.
Showing shades of Chris Jericho, Punk leaped to the top rope and nailed Cena with a dropkick to his back, knocking him off the apron and completely out of the ring in the process.
Punk caught his breath as Cena crawled his way back into the ring at five. He went for the cover and again failed. Back to work he went as he slowly gained support from the WWE Universe.
Cena soon fought his way back into the match, dueling it out by going back and forth with Punk with their signature moves. Cena went for many shoulder blocks, while Punk went for a couple knees in the corner. It looked as if Cena had won this exchange too. He signaled for the Five Knuckle Shuffle to the glee of the kids sporting his red shirt; however, Punk reversed into a Koji Clutch—a Japanese variation of the sleeper hold.
Cena powered his way out and locked in the STF. The STF, though, wasn’t applied properly, allowing Punk to wiggle his way out and into the Anaconda Vise.
Cena had to lift his shoulders from the mat and eventually powered his way back into the STF. Due to Cena again not hooking Punk’s back leg, Punk squirmed around and placed his foot on the bottom rope to break the hold.
Cena recovered and vaulted himself across the ring in hopes of clotheslining Punk to the outside, but Cena was the man who ended up on the outside. Punk had ducked and lifted Cena over and out.
Punk glanced to the outside, realizing and capitalizing on his suicide dive opportunity. John Cena was in deep trouble, but how much did Punk have left?
Triple H reached the count of nine before putting both men back in the ring to avoid the disastrous idea of a draw.
Cena and Punk met with a striking encounter in the center of the ring, an encounter that John Cena won. He nailed a dropkick and a Five Knuckle Shuffle on his fellow champion.
Cena lifted Punk on his shoulders for the Attitude Adjustment Punk, though he reversed into a roll-up. Cena kicked out, but Punk escaped a dangerous situation unscathed. Cena responded with a roll-up of his own. Punk bridged out and landed a roundhouse to the back of Cena’s skull.
1,2, kickout! A move that had ended many matches for Punk wouldn’t end this one. His main finisher, the Go to Sleep, also failed to put away Cena.
Cena splashed Punk in the corner and followed up with an unorthodox suplex into a pin. 1,2, no!
Cena reached the top rope only to meet the knee of CM Punk. Punk hit a bulldog off the second rope and rolled Cena for the pin. Cena still found a way to kickout.
Punk went back to well, launching himself at Cena with a springboard crossbody, but this time it missed Cena. Cena moved out of the way and locked in a perfectly applied STF. Punk still scratched and clawed his way to a rope break.
The two jockeyed for position to hit their finisher. Cena was the successful one. 1,2, kickout! Punk had kicked out of the Attitude Adjustment that had put countless hall of famers and former champions away!
Cena grew frustrated with special guest referee Triple H. He felt like that was a three-count. Despite this, Cena kept his poise.
Punk avoided Cena’s top rope leg drop and nailed the GTS! Was he going to shock the world once more? 1,2, kickout!
Punk favored his left leg as he willed his way to the top rope for an elbow to Cena’s heart. This didn’t put Cena away either. Punk now was reasoning with Triple H, something Cena tried to take advantage of with roll-up, but Punk wasn’t losing this match that easily.
One final exchange led to a high knee and GTS from Punk! Pinfall; 1,2,3! Cena’s leg on the bottom rope was missed by the inexperienced referee, costing him the match. CM Punk had somehow escaped with the WWE Championship for the second time in two months.
Both the commentators and Cena himself were furious at Triple H; nevertheless, the result was final. Cena exited the ring in disappointment as CM Punk joyfully celebrated.
Punk refused a handshake from Triple H, who instead just raised Punk’s hand. Triple H left the ring, leaving Punk alone and ripe for the picking of one Kevin Nash.
Triple H watched from the stage as Nash clotheslined and promptly Jackknifed the now undisputed WWE Champion. Hunter rushed back to ringside to chase down his friend, but Nash hightailed it through the crowd.
Trips stared on in disbelief as Mr. Money in the Bank, Alberto Del Rio, quickly made his way to the ring to cash in his briefcase. The bell rang and ADR hit Punk with a kick to the back of the head for win. Alberto Del Rio was the new the WWE Champion!
To read part three of this series today and much more of my work, please visit WrestleEnigma.com. Thanks.