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 CM Punk and Daniel Bryan's long, strange road to the WWE Title

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The WWE Champion is not supposed to be here.

They said he was too small, a straight-edge scrapper who was about as far from the flamboyant WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels as can be, and far too much of an “internet darling” to reach the lofty heights of the title he now holds.

The No. 1 contender is not supposed to be here, either. He is a 5-foot-10 vegan in a land of red-blooded, meaty hulks, a man who wins matches with submission holds instead of bone-crunching strikes. Not exactly Hulk Hogan reincarnate, in other words.

And yet, here CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are. The important thing to realize is that it is not a rivalry born of natural animosity, like Austin vs. McMahon. It is not born of betrayal, like Hart vs. Michaels, nor does it stem from self-destructive impulse, like Triple H vs. The Undertaker.

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Debbie Wiseman May 12, 2012

PHOTOS & WWE.com Video

For a guy who has won seven world championships as a professional wrestler and has performed in front of millions, CM Punk appeared … well, slightly jittery in the press box on Monday night at Wrigley Field.
“To me, I don’t really get nervous as often wrestling anymore,” he said.

And as he warmed up for his big moment with organist Gary Pressy in a tiny booth high above Wrigley Field, tattooed tough-guy CM Punk melted away and was replaced by Phillip Jack Brooks (Punk’s real name), a wide-eyed kid who just stole the keys to the candy store.

“Take me out to the ball game…”

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Debbie Wiseman May 12, 2012

DIGITAL PICTURESHQ SCREEN CAPTURES

General Manager John Laurinaitis was ripped by WWE Champion CM Punk
Raw and SmackDown General Manager John Laurinaitis showed no remorse for his ruthless assault on John Cena at the end of last week’s Raw. The GM said he wasn’t punished by the Board of Directors for his actions, which he claimed was justified because The Cenation Leader tried to undermine his authority and ridicule his leadership skills. Laurinaitis mandated that Cena not appear live tonight and instead undergo rehabilitation so he doesn’t have an excuse why he will lose to him at WWE Over the Limit. (PHOTOS | VIDEO)

Laurinaitis then revealed that the reason his voice sounds so hoarse is because he was injured in a match against “Dr. Death” Steve Williams in Tokyo, Japan. Showing off images of his in-ring action on the TitanTron, Laurinaitis boasted that, when he performed in Japan, he was Hulk Hogan, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock, all rolled into one dominant competitor.

Before Laurinaitis could get any further, WWE Champion CM Punk came out to the ring to confront the cocky General Manager. Punk blasted Laurinaitis for losing touch with the people, despite all the GM’s bragging that he’s the brains behind “People Power.” The Straight Edge Superstar’s sharpest jab of all came when he told Laurinaitis the reason he went to Japan is because no one in America ever wanted to see him compete.

Angered by Punk’s verbal barbs, Laurinaitis made a big match for Raw SuperShow tonight, pitting the WWE Champion against the fearsome Lord Tensai.

Before the main event, John Laurinaitis announced that the CM Punk vs. Lord Tensai contest was now a 2-on-1 Handicap Match, with Punk taking on both Tensai and Daniel Bryan.

The WWE Champion had his work cut out for him, as Tensai blasted and mangled Punk early with a series of power moves. Punk mounted a rally after Bryan missed with a flying headbutt off the top rope, but the strength in numbers would soon prove to be too much for The Straight Edge Superstar to overcome. As Punk went to the top turnbuckle, a lurking Bryan sent him flying with a shove, and Tensai took full advantage by squeezing The Second City Savior’s head like a vice with a green mist-filled claw. (PHOTOS | VIDEO)

Adding insult to injury, Bryan snapped the “Yes!” Lock onto Punk following the 2-on-1 victory and berated the helpless WWE Champion. If we’ve learned one major lesson from this Raw SuperShow, it’s that Laurinaitis is hell-bent on making Superstars pay dearly for crossing him.

Debbie Wiseman May 8, 2012

DIGITAL PICTURES — SCREEN CAPTURES

Daniel Bryan def. Jerry “The King” Lawler – Beat the Clock Challenge Match

Daniel Bryan’s reaction to finding out the identity of his opponent was a resounding “Yes! Yes! Yes!” Jerry Lawler put up quite a fight and even connected with a diving fist drop off the top turnbuckle. Bryan’s punishing kicks and submission technique, however, was too much for “The King” to overcome. Bryan made Lawler tap out with the “Yes!” Lock and easily beat Orton’s time of 4:16 to become the No. 1 Contender for the WWE Championship. (VIDEO)

At WWE Over the Limit, Bryan will take on CM Punk with the WWE Title on the line. (MATCH PREVIEW)

Debbie Wiseman May 1, 2012

CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho at Extreme Rules

DIGITAL PICTURES — SCREEN CAPTURES

CHICAGO – For weeks upon exhausting weeks, Chris Jericho attempted to publicly humiliate WWE Champion CM Punk and damage his family’s reputation with wild accusations.

At Extreme Rules, in front of a sold-out crowd that included his sister and other family members at ringside, Punk finally got an opportunity to destroy his most hated adversary once and for all. Fittingly, the two Superstars battled in WWE’s second-ever Chicago Street Fight, a grueling contest where the only way to win was by pinfall or submission – with no count-outs and no disqualifications. (PHOTOS)

The last time Punk fought on a pay-per-view in his hometown of Chicago, he pulled off a remarkable upset over John Cena to capture his first WWE Championship. With that stunning win at Money in the Bank still fresh in the Chicagoans’ minds, Punk was showered with deafening cheers at the Allstate Arena as he made his way down the entrance ramp to take on Jericho.

Wearing a T-shirt that proclaimed “Drug Free” on the front and “Poison Free” on the back, Punk wasted no time dishing out punishment by lashing his opponent with a kendo stick. Jericho weathered the initial attack and returned the favor while brawling with Punk on the outside. Tempers flared when Jericho taunted Punk’s sister at ringside, a bold action that resulted in a slap across Jericho’s face from Punk’s sister as The Straight Edge Superstar flew into a rage.

After beating each other mercilessly with the tops of the announce tables, Jericho reached for a can of beer and drenched the WWE Champion. However, as with his previous attempts to embarrass Punk, it just added fuel to his competitive fire.

Punk rallied back and went for the Go To Sleep, but Jericho evaded the finishing move and slapped on the Walls of Jericho, which Punk then countered and nearly notched a pinfall. Further showing his resiliency, Jericho kicked out following Punk’s big elbow drop from the top rope, and later slipped out of a second Go To Sleep attempt.

As Jericho locked Punk in the Walls of Jericho following a Codebreaker, The Straight Edge Superstar crawled to escape the hold, but under the rules of a Chicago Street Fight, he was unable to break the submission by grabbing the ropes. In an act of desperation, Punk reached under the ring and discovered a fire extinguisher, blasting his rival in the face to regain momentum in the match.

With a breathtaking leap to the outside, The Straight Edge Superstar drove his elbow into Jericho’s chest, shattering the announce table. Even that devastating blow wasn’t enough to keep Jericho down for good, as he escaped an Anaconda Vise attempt by whacking Punk repeatedly in the head with a kendo stick.

After Punk survived a Codebreaker onto a steel chair, Jericho tried to mock the WWE Champion with the Go To Sleep, holding up Punk above his shoulders while screaming “I am the best in the world!” The moment to gloat backfired, though, as Punk reversed it with a slingshot into the turnbuckle and followed with the Go To Sleep for the incredible victory.

At one point, it seemed like The Straight Edge Superstar would never shake the constant harassment from a rival intent on taking away his title. As The Second City Savior leapt into the crowd Sunday night and soaked in the ovation from his Chicago supporters, all of the ridicule and torment from Jericho appeared to be a distant memory.

Mind games couldn’t break Punk; they only made him a stronger WWE Champion.


 

Debbie Wiseman Apr 30, 2012