Is CM Punk the Best in the World? While some WWE fans may debate that question, there's no debating in my mind that Punk will be the best in the ring during his WWE Championship showdown with Alberto Del Rio at Survivor Series.
Sure, Punk has taken a few cheap shots recently from Del Rio in anticipation of their big title bout which may lead some fans to conclude that the Best in the World is heading into the match as the underdog. But don't be fooled.
Punk is very capable of walking out of Survivor Series with the WWE title strapped around his waist once again. In fact, I fully expect him to, and here's why.
CM Punk must be licking his chops knowing that his WWE title match with Alberto Del Rio at Survivor Series will involve very little outside interference, if at all. A big reason for that is because Kevin Nash—who has been a “big sexy” thorn in Punk’s side the past few months—is currently out of the picture.
Let’s not forget it was Nash who cost Punk the WWE title after his Summerslam match against John Cena. And it was also Nash’s interference that factored into Punk and his tag-team partner Triple H losing their match to Awesome Truth at Vengeance.
But now Nash’s attention has turned away from Punk and is squarely on Triple H. With Nash out of the picture, expect Punk to thrive knowing that his title match will be a straight-up bout.
Perhaps Del Rio’s trusty sidekick Ricardo Rodriguez will get involved. However, who’s going to give Punk more trouble: a lowly ring announcer (Rodriguez) or a WWE Superstar twice his size (Nash)?
It’s hard to ignore the effect CM Punk has on crowds in “big time” wrestling cities. Look at the pop he got at Money in the Bank in Chicago. The crowd was puddy in his hands.
Obviously, Punk is the Windy City’s hometown hero, so that played a monumental factor. Still, I’m sure Punk would’ve gotten the exact same reception had he not been Chicago Made.
And look at the reaction he generated on the recent go-home Raw in Boston before Survivor Series: another major city where professional wrestling has long been revered; another crowd fawning over Punk’s every move.
And where is Survivor Series taking place this year? It’s held in none other than New York City and Madison Square Garden, the Mecca of pro wrestling.
Expect another supportive crowd giving Punk “home-court” advantage. Punk already proved at MITB that having the fans in your corner can’t hurt. Expect the Greatest in the World to ride the Madison Square Garden energy to victory.
Alberto Del Rio is definitely no slouch in the ring. His athleticism and capabilities on the canvas are simply amazing for a wrestler of his size (6-foot-5, 260 pounds).
However, pound-for-pound, I think CM Punk is just a little bit better than his Survivor Series adversary. While Del Rio is quick inside the squared circle, Punk is quicker.
He can overwhelm Del Rio with a barrage of roundhouse kicks, step-up high knees to the face and relentless elbow strikes. And let’s not forget the fact that Punk has gone more airborne lately.
He can cut the larger Del Rio down to size with a diving crossbody suplex or his Randy Savage-inspired diving elbow drop. And if Punk gets Del Rio in the Anaconda Vise, forget it.
Del Rio tapped rather easily to John Cena’s S.T.F. at Night of Champions. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him submit in similar fashion at Survivor Series.
With that said, Punk must also be aware of Del Rio’s equally crippling Cross Armbreaker. Luckily for Punk, he’s slippery enough to break out of that submission should Del Rio try to apply it.
Since the beginning of time, when cavemen would settle their differences in a squared circle of rock and fire (OK, maybe not that far back), pro wrestling has followed a tried and true formula regarding how the feud between good and evil pans out. In the weeks leading up to an epic pay-per-view showdown, the heel (aka bad guy) appears to gain all of the momentum against the face (aka good guy).
Whether it’s by cheap shots, calling on other heels to do his dirty work or any other sketchy tactics, the heel appears so unstoppable that you wonder if the face will ever conquer his nemesis. But when the pay-per-view rolls around, the face miraculously pulls out a victory against all odds and good prevails over evil in the end.
It looks like the CM Punk-Alberto Del Rio rivalry is playing out exactly the same way. Del Rio has ambushed Punk back stage and in the ring for the past three weeks. If this is playing out how I think it is, then Punk will find a way to overcome Del Rio’s debauchery and leave Survivor Series with the WWE title.
It goes without saying that summer 2011 in WWE was clearly the Summer of Punk. And actually, the fall has been the Fall of Punk, but I’m not talking about seasons in this regard.
I’m talking about the way that WWE has failed to maintain the momentum that CM Punk single-handedly generated within the company this past summer.
After going off on the WWE brass during a memorable Raw rant this past June, Punk blew up and became the biggest sensation in pro wrestling since the days when Stone Cold Steve Austin ushered in the Attitude era. Punk’s rise culminated in his memorable WWE Championship victory over John Cena at Money in the Bank.
Since then, though, Punk has lost the title and has yet to gain it back. Meanwhile, the buzz is back around wrestlers like Cena and the Rock, who will team up to take on Awesome Truth in Survivor Series’ main event.
It seems to me that WWE tried to undermine Punk's relevancy by taking the belt off him. But why do they want to compromise his popularity? After all, Punk has topped the merchandise rankings for much of the fall.
Believe it or not, Punk could actually become even more popular amongst the fans if he leaves Survivor Series with the WWE title. Putting the title back on Punk would be an easy way to catapult the Best in the World back into the permanent ranks of main event status, right up there with the likes of Cena and Rock.
Plus, an extended WWE Championship run would validate Punk as truly one of WWE’s biggest draws. Even during his remarkable summer, Punk only held the title for roughly one month (between MITB and Summerslam) and part of that stretch saw him share the belt with Cena. The WWE bookers need to keep Punk hot and having him beat Alberto Del Rio for the belt will go a long way in doing so.