The Money in the Bank All-Stars confronted each other
IOWA – As it turns out, placing five WWE Superstars in the presence of the WWE Championship contract induces the sports-entertainment equivalent of a feeding frenzy. What began as the latest sermon from Daniel Bryan soon turned into a six-way standoff when the submission master’s guarantee of victory brought out Sheamus, then Randy Orton, then Kane, then Christian, and finally CM Punk to add fuel to the fire.
As tensions rose and egos came to the forefront in the shadow of the coveted contract, the Superstars got overly antsy and Kane found himself the unwitting recipient of an RKO when he attempted to back Bryan up against an understandably irritable Orton. In fact, the only Superstar conspicuous by his absence in the scrum was Rob Van Dam, although Mr. Monday Night’s actions will surely do all the talking for him in a few weeks’ time.
CM Punk & Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel def. The Prime Time Players
A win is a win, but Paul Heyman’s proverbial roost is in a state of unrest following Curtis Axel’s series of shenanigans on CM Punk during their match against The Prime Time Players. Things were tense between Heyman’s two acolytes from the beginning after Axel tagged into the match and refused to let Punk back in. Axel seemed to have the bout in hand at first, but his gloating got the better of him when Titus O’Neil & Darren Young reclaimed the advantage, isolating Axel from Punk in the corner.
A big boot to “The Big Deal” gave Axel the gap he needed to reach The Second City Saint and Punk showed the youngblood how it’s done, making good on his word to take out both Players single-handedly. But Axel was not to be outdone, tagging his way into the match on an unsuspecting Punk and stealing the pin from The Straight Edge Superstar after he had already put Young down with the Go to Sleep. Needless to say, Punk was not exactly eager to take part in the victory celebration, leaving in a huff while Axel preened in the ring.
CM Punk confronted Paul Heyman
CM Punk’s got a lot on his mind, and it ain’t just the Chicago Blackhawks. There’s been trouble a-brewing in Punk’s own trusted circle following Brock Lesnar’s attack of The Straight Edge Superstar on Raw last week, and despite his reluctance to air dirty laundry in front of the WWE Universe, Punk conceded to Paul Heyman’s invitation to a public powwow. Punk, for his part, had two orders of business. No. 1: Punk told Heyman to inform Lesnar that The Second City Saint was coming for him. And No. 2: More than anything else, Punk wanted the truth from Heyman as to whether or not The Anomaly was acting on his orders.
Heyman vehemently denied the allegations, swearing on his children that Lesnar acted alone and – despite the “professional jealousy” between his clients that led Heyman to keep them separate – he would never represent anyone against The Second City Saint. The heartfelt tell-all seemed to move Punk enough for a friendly embrace, but the conflicted expression on Punk’s face seemed to say more than either man, in all their eloquence, ever could.
CM Punk def. Darren Young
Darren Young was truly ready for Prime Time on Raw when he mounted a challenge against CM Punk and acquitted himself incredibly well in defeat, nearly earning a win over The Straight Edge Superstar before finally falling to the former champ’s fury.
With Punk still getting his sea legs back under him, “Mr. No Days Off” mounted a stiff challenge against The Second City Saint and actually kept Punk on the ropes for a good chunk of the match. A Gut Buster to the former WWE Champion seemingly wrapped the bout up for Young, but Punk retaliated and tapped D. Young out in seconds with a ruthless Anaconda Vise. Titus O’Neil swarmed the ring to avenge his friend’s loss, but that brought out an unlikely cavalry in the form of Curtis Axel, who helped his fellow “Heyman Guy” send The Prime Time Players away … much to the seeming chagrin of Punk himself.
CM Punk interrupted Alberto Del Rio’s championship celebration
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – For all his championship victories, Alberto Del Rio can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to the post-title win fiesta. One night after his morally iffy reclamation of the Word Heavyweight Championship, Del Rio took the stage in Grand Rapids to the unmitigated disapproval of the WWE Universe. The crowd hadn’t taken too kindly to Del Rio’s winning strategy – kick the recently concussed Dolph Ziggler in the head, repeat – but he didn’t seem to mind the opinion of a WWE Universe who he felt had disrespected him while he competed in their name.
But none took less kindly to the champion’s posturing than CM Punk. The ragamuffin hero of the 312 didn’t much appreciate Del Rio’s claims of superiority (commandment one of the Cult of Personality: Thou shalt not name thyself “The best”), and wasted no time – despite Paul Heyman’s unwelcome attempts to stop him – laying down a (non-title) challenge against Del Rio for later in the evening. And thanks to a quick ruling by Vickie Guerrero, the answer was a resounding Si! Si! Si!
CM Punk def. World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio via Count-out
It was shades of Survivor Series 2011 when CM Punk faced off against World Champion Alberto Del Rio on Raw, and while the ending of their bout was technically the same – Punk claimed the win – the circumstances and aftermath could not have been more different.
Photos: Ziggler attacks Del Rio
The two Superstars came out swinging against each other, though Del Rio’s frustration boiled over as the WWE Universe cheered for Punk, leading him to unleash a similar barrage of kicks he had against Dolph Ziggler the previous night. Del Rio targeted Punk’s left arm rather than his head, but the strategy paid dividends until Punk rallied with a last-ditch Go to Sleep that sent Del Rio rolling outside the ring. This, as they say, is where it got interesting.
Video: Punk feels the pain
Ricardo hauled his hermano to his feet at the count of ten (suffering a loss in the process) and carried him to the locker room, but the pair was besieged by a furious Dolph Ziggler, defying doctor’s orders by showing up of his own accord and laying a rabid beatdown on the unsuspecting champion. Punk was left to celebrate his win, but imagine his surprise when Brock Lesnar’s music hit instead of his own. And imagine his surprise when The Anomaly appeared in the flesh, stalking Punk outside the ring before he clipped The Second City Saint’s wings with a ruthless F-5. What’s that old adage again? Here comes the pain.
CHICAGO – With all due respect to Kanye West, that’s how you have a Chi-town homecoming.
Windy City native and recently AWOL Superstar CM Punk made his grand return to the ring at WWE Payback, defeating Chris Jericho in a bout that had a solid chance of not happening at all after he seemingly walked out of WWE the night after WrestleMania. Punk’s absence left everyone with more questions than answers, but while the WWE Universe has certainly thought about him now and then, he showed little impetus of returning to the ring … until Payback unfolded in his hometown of Chicago.