Introduction – Best CM Punk Matches
So, let’s talk about CM Punk. To say that his wrestling career to date is eventful would be a huge understatement. And yet his off-screen happenings arguably overshadow his accomplishments in the ring. Meanwhile, he has a fiercely loyal fan base, particularly in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Indeed, his controversies cannot take away from his in-ring talents and, particularly, his ability to create intrigue on the microphone. A complicated figure, Punk is nevertheless always a talking point. And after his messy AEW departure, many are wondering if he could return to WWE to right some wrongs. When it comes to CM Punk, you can never say never.
Regardless of his next move, though, nobody can deny how much he contributed in ROH, WWE and AEW. This includes a plethora of memorable matches, ranging from 60-minute technical classics to matches that instigated all-time atmospheres. But which matches demonstrate why so many would call Punk the “Best In The World”? Which of his bouts should you watch if you’re a newbie to the man behind the Pipe Bomb? That’s what we will examine here as we rank the best CM Punk matches. So, let’s take a look at the best matches of CM Punk!
Best CM Punk Matches – Top Ten
10. Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk – WWE SummerSlam 2009, World Heavyweight Championship TLC Match
Kicking off our list of the best CM Punk matches is an entry from the feud between Punk and Jeff Hardy. So, Punk had successfully cashed in Money In The Bank at Jeff’s expense at Extreme Rules 2009. Hardy would respond to a heel-turning Punk by regaining the World Heavyweight Title at Night Of Champions 2009. But they would meet once again on PPV under TLC rules at SummerSlam 2009.
Both men rose to the occasion of headlining such a major PPV without senior stars providing assistance. The most notable spot is Hardy’s Swanton Bomb from an insane height onto Punk. CM would rebound, though, and kick Jeff off a ladder, allowing Punk to reclaim the WHC once again. But then a shocking return by The Undertaker would cap off a near-perfect main event segment.
9. CM Punk vs. John Morrison – ECW, September 4 2007, ECW Championship Match
Next up on our list of the best CM Punk matches is a bout from … WWE’s ECW??? Okay, so WWE’s ECW rarely appears on “best of” lists. But the show did occasionally provide something to talk about for the right reasons. And one of those times occurred when Punk dethroned John Morrison for the ECW Championship. So, Morrison had defeated Punk at three consecutive PPVs, but Punk remained in the title chase nonetheless.
An unexpected mass suspension of WWE talent included Morrison, and therefore he had to lose the ECW Championship. Punk was the beneficiary, and his triumph came as part of arguably the best match in WWE ECW history. For those who only look at the show in a negative light, listen to the crowd’s reaction to Punk’s victory. It’s a genuinely great match and a milestone on Punk’s journey to the top of WWE.
8. CM Punk vs. MJF – AEW Revolution 2022, Dog Collar Match
One could probably write an entire book solely covering Punk’s tumultuous tenure with All Elite Wrestling. It began so well with Punk’s legendary return to the business on the second episode of AEW Rampage. But the infamous backstage confrontations at All Out 2022 and All In 2023 overshadowed Punk’s genuine achievements in the company. And that’s a shame because Punk definitely provided plenty of positive contributions during his AEW tenure.
Perhaps the most notable of these concerned his feud with MJF. Now, Maxwell Jacob Friedman was already a star before clashing with Punk. But there’s no doubt that squaring up against Punk elevated MJF even in defeat. Their Dog Collar match from Revolution 2022 is a bloodbath, and as gritty as a main event-level clash gets in modern times. If there’s one match that should demonstrate Punk’s best work in AEW, it’s this encounter. And therefore it makes our list of the best CM Punk matches.
7. Money In The Bank Ladder Match – WWE WrestleMania XXIV
Next up on our list of the best CM Punk matches, we have the seven-man MITB clash from WrestleMania XXIV. So, the participants were Punk, Chris Jericho, Carlito, MVP, John Morrison, Mr. Kennedy and Shelton Benjamin. Jeff Hardy was supposed to enter and win the match, but a suspension would change WWE’s plans significantly. Instead, the company chose Punk to capture the MITB briefcase on a warm spring night in Orlando.
Along the way, we enjoyed one crazy stunt after another. These included a Tower Of Doom off two ladders, a Backstabber to Jericho, and a returning Matt Hardy. In the end, Punk managed to trap Jericho in the rungs of a ladder. That allowed CM to head up and grab the case. This unexpected victory would pave the way for Punk to become a main eventer and a modern legend.
6. CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio – WWE Over The Limit 2010, Hair vs. Straight Edge Society Membership Match
Personally, my favourite match between these two comes from Armageddon 2008. But that was a cold babyface vs. babyface clash with a minimal story. Contrast that to this clash from Over The Limit 2010, which ended a lengthy feud between Punk and Mysterio. Simply put, Rey would either join the Straight Edge Society, or Punk would lose his long locks of hair.
This was a compelling clash between the ultimate babyface character and a truly nasty, conniving heel. Punk’s villainous persona was so convincing that fans genuinely wanted to see him receive his comeuppance. And that he did by not only losing the battle but also the war, with Rey shaving Punk’s head afterwards. It’s not spoken about with the same reverence as other memorable Punk matches, but this is definitely worth reliving. However, it doesn’t quite rank amongst the five best CM Punk matches.
Best CM Punk Matches – Top Five
5. CM Punk vs. Samoa Joe – ROH Joe vs. Punk II, ROH Championship Match
It probably isn’t exaggerating to suggest that Punk’s time in the original ROH was the favourite period of his career. Back then, Punk didn’t have to worry about the politics behind the curtain. Instead, his primary focus was on his in-ring work. And none of his rivals in ROH brought the best out of Punk more than reigning champion Samoa Joe. The two men had contested a memorable clash back in June 2004, hence the show title for their rematch.
And it was a famous clash that went the full 60 minutes. Even the announcers wanted to enjoy this bout as fans rather than participating from a professional standpoint. Many would argue that this feud, and specifically this match, convinced WWE to take a chance on hiring CM Punk. Therefore, modern wrestling history could have looked very different without this match. And therefore this bout simply has to feature on our best CM Punk matches list.
4. CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan – WWE Over The Limit 2012, WWE Championship Match
To put this into perspective, consider that a few years earlier, WWE even hiring either man seemed a stretch. Fast-forward to May 2012, and they’re colliding on PPV for the WWE Championship. Talk about a transformation. But this interesting change in tastes doesn’t explain why their Over The Limit 2012 match makes our list.
No, it makes the list because it’s an absolutely brilliant wrestling match between two masters of the craft. A technical wrestling classic, this is as flawless as a World Title match gets in terms of in-ring precision. In the end, Punk would sneak a pinfall win over Bryan to just about retain his WWE Title. If it’s pure wrestling that you’re looking for, this may very well be Punk’s greatest performance. And yet it’s only #4 on our list of the best CM Punk matches; what gives?
Best CM Punk Matches – Top Three
3. CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar – WWE SummerSlam 2013, No Holds Barred Match
As everyone knows, Punk would leave WWE under a dark cloud after Royal Rumble 2014. Even before his departure, though, Punk’s standard for in-ring excellence seemed to have dipped somewhat. Therefore, to witness his final classic WWE match, you have to go back to SummerSlam 2013. That was his clash with Brock Lesnar, which WWE subtitled “The Best vs. The Beast”.
Their No Holds Barred match is an incredible brawl to witness. Indeed, both Punk and Lesnar brought their A-game to Los Angeles for this epic struggle. Along the way, Punk would get his shots in on Paul Heyman, who recently betrayed his former client Punk. But Brock was too powerful for CM, with an F5 enduring a win for Lesnar. As it turned out, this was Punk’s last hurrah in his WWE tenure. And it’s a worthy inclusion amongst the best CM Punk matches.
2. The Undertaker vs. CM Punk – WWE WrestleMania 29
Almost topping our list of the best CM Punk matches is one of the more controversial bouts of Punk’s career. That’s because of the buildup, which focused on the death of Paul Bearer. With Paul Heyman’s encouragement, Punk would mercilessly taunt Taker for weeks, even commandeering the infamous urn. But it was all with a purpose: Punk hoped to defeat Taker with mind games en route to ending The Streak.
At WrestleMania 29, Punk would do everything within his power to defeat Undertaker on the biggest stage. Punk even covered Taker cross-armed after an urn shot, which almost brought an end to The Streak. But as he often would, Taker rebounded and finished off Punk with a second Tombstone Piledriver. This is a thoroughly compelling encounter and one of Undertaker’s final great bouts. And for Punk, he left the WrestleMania stage with a bang, given his WWE departure in early 2014.
Top Ranking – Best CM Punk Matches
1. John Cena vs. CM Punk – WWE Money In The Bank 2011, WWE Championship Match
Number one is a match where the actual action is the third priority. That’s because the secondary element is the worked-shoot storyline preceding the contest. Namely, would Punk really leave WWE as its heavyweight champion, and after roasting the company on live television for weeks? The key element, though, was the insanely hot Chicago crowd cheering on its hometown hero. Punk’s entrance alone makes this a legendary moment in modern WWE history.
But of course, the match itself is also of a high calibre with each participant shining brightly. I would argue that some of the other Punk vs. Cena matches are technically superior to Money In The Bank 2011. But as an overall package, none of their other bouts can top what they achieved at MITB 2011. And of course, you have the crowd-satisfying outcome of Punk pinning Cena to win the WWE Championship. If you only watched one match from CM Punk, it must be his battle against Cena from Money In The Bank 2011. And therefore it has to top our rankings of the best CM Punk matches.
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So, those are our thoughts on the best CM Punk matches. But what do you think? Let us know by leaving a comment below!