BUFFALO, N.Y. – Brutalized for weeks at the hands of both Paul Heyman and his “big, bad, beautiful” protector, Ryback, CM Punk turned not to his fists but his mind to claim a hard-fought upset over the Superstar Heyman seems to have hand-picked his latest acolyte.
With Heyman positioned safely behind the man-mountain, Punk had no choice but to engage “The Big Guy” head-on and leave Heyman — whose “win” over Punk at Night of Champions has yet to be repaid — for another day. What Ryback lacked in technical precision he made up for in pure brute force: a man fighting not just for his own bragging rights against an old foe but the approval of a benefactor whose influence has already begun to poison Ryback’s mind. It was, after all, Heyman who planted the idea of Punk-as-bully into Ryback’s head, despite the fact that The Human Wrecking Ball has doled out harrassment to Superstars and civilians alike over the last several months.
The strategy went about as well as one would expect for The Second City Saint at the outset when he found himself muscled into the defensive by his much larger foe. With Heyman whispering words of encouragement into his guardian angel’s ear to reinforce their mission — “he’s a bully” — Ryback deployed a monstrous combination of power moves that all but turned Punk into a splatter.
Even though Heyman instructed his protégé to “hurt” the staggering Punk, The Second City Saint found his second wind, writhing free of Ryback’s rear chinlock and raining elbows upon the big man’s skull. Punk next planted Ryback with a swinging neckbreaker and signaled for the Go to Sleep, though Heyman cut the attack short by deploying the most efficient weapon in his arsenal: His mouth. With Punk moments from victory, the mad scientist seized a microphone and reiterated (in great detail) his ill-gotten victory at Night of Champions, distracting Punk long enough for Ryback to level him with the Meathook Clothesline.
As the bout neared its fever pitch, both men reached deep into their caches to put the other away, and Punk, again, hung just tough enough to keep it close. Ryback turned to the powerbomb as his maneuver of choice, and The Straight Edge Superstar transitioned into a hurricanrana to counteract it. Ryback answered by muscling Punk chest-first into the ropes, and that’s when Heyman lost his cool.
Unable to resist a chance at humiliating his prodigal son, Heyman slowly skulked toward the prone Punk with a Kendo stick while Ryback occupied the referee. But the intent — while appropriately vindictive — wasn’t exactly subtle, and with the ref now distracted by Heyman, Punk performed the match’s brutal coup de grace by mule-kicking Ryback right in the groin. As Heyman realized his folly, Punk quickly covered the shell-shocked “Big Guy” with a smile and completed his win with the 1-2-3.
So, to recap: in one fell swoop, CM Punk outsmarted Paul Heyman, defeated Ryback, and left his former mentor stewing on pay-per-view. It was a textbook win that proved true everything CM Punk has said about himself, and left Heyman to sit and ponder what might have been had he truly acted like the mastermind he calls himself. For Heyman, it was a missed opportunity. For Punk, it was mind over muscle, strategy over brutality, student over teacher. It was big, it was bad and it was beautiful.
As for Ryback? Well, now he knows what happens to bullies.