CM Punk has been a world champion in the WWE five times. While others have held the title more times over, none can say they are "the longest-reigning WWE Champion of the modern era."
That's a pretty good resume to start with. Judging by what transpired on Monday night, Punk is in line to attempt to do what others have not been able to accomplish—end The Undertaker's streak at WrestleMania 29.
Punk was the man who made 2012 his year, and it looks like he could have just as dominant a campaign in 2013. Punk held the title for 434 days from November 20, 2011 to January 27, 2013 and is officially recognized as the sixth-longest reigning champion of all time. He is the longest-reigning of the previous 25 years, with or without the title currently around his waist.
While fans clamored all year to see the "streak" broken in Punk's tenure as champion, the WWE did a great job of creating a character that could be loved and hated for just being himself.
Philip Jack Brooks had a lot to do with that as well, but credit the company for sticking with a game plan that was continuous and successful and allowed fans to see some great feuds along the way. That is what keeps Punk a top attraction in the WWE right now.
Sorry, John Cena. Sorry, Rock. Sorry, Undertaker. While we waited for the Deadman to rise again and make his presence known before WrestleMania, Punk is setting the stage to have a bigger year in 2013 than any of these other superstars.
And he is proving he does not need a title to make his own star even brighter.
As a youngster, I remember hearing the great Gordon Solie once say that champions must be at the top of their game, but the challengers must be one step ahead. This is true of any competition or sport, but Punk takes it to a new level.
I have said before an angry Punk is a better Punk for the business. When the gold is not around his waist, he is hungrier, meaner and nastier than he is with the title. That is the mark of a great heel and a great wrestling character.
With WrestleMania on the horizon, the threat to The Rock's WWE title in the rear view mirror and the possibility of facing John Cena in the month of April and May, it looks like the summer will get a lot hotter for the WWE.
For Punk, it's just a matter of time before the wrestling community realizes he truly is one of the best in the world.