DIGITAL PICTURES — SCREEN CAPTURES
Chris Jericho didn’t even have a chance to open his mouth this time. He was totally out cold.
On Sunday night, the very Superstar who Jericho ripped as a “wannabe,” the man who he disrespected at every opportunity, was the only one who could lay claim to being the “Best in the World”: WWE Champion CM Punk.
The Straight Edge Superstar knocked Jericho unconscious with a kick to the back of the head, and stood tall above four other fearsome contenders, to retain his title in the grueling Raw Elimination Chamber Match.
It was one of Punk’s most physically taxing battles to overcome in his WWE career, not only because of the exhausting nature of the Elimination Chamber Match, but the emotional vendetta that he had to withstand in order to keep the championship around his waist.
For those unaware of the rules, the Elimination Chamber Match begins with two participants in a ring enclosed by the Chamber structure, while the remaining four are held within pods in each corner of the Chamber. The other four Superstars are randomly released from their pods into the contest at five-minute intervals. The objective is simple, but exceptionally tough: eliminate opponents via pinfall or submission, forcing each to leave the Chamber. The last man standing is the winner.
Jericho certainly had experience packed into his pod. Heading into this crucial duel, The Mental Mastermind participated in six Elimination Chamber Matches. Punk was no rookie himself, having entered the Chamber on three separate occasions.
Punk started off the match first against Kofi Kingston. Despite a couple of crafty acrobatic moves by Kingston, The Straight Edge Superstar dished out some punishing blows, sending Kingston into one of the pods headfirst and suplexing him on the hard steel floor of the Chamber.
Dolph Ziggler was the third to join the fray, and immediately went after the WWE Champion, striking him repeatedly and, of course, showing off by using the Chamber’s chains to do pull-ups. The injection of Ziggler into the match added a new element of danger, as Punk and Kingston suffered a very painful mid-air collision while gunning for The Show-Off.
R-Truth, as reckless as ever, stormed out fourth and wasted no time with a flurry of wild punches and high-risk maneuvers. Truth didn’t last long, though, being quickly eliminated by Punk after a top-rope elbow drop.
Stepping into the chaos fifth, The Miz went to work on Kingston and Ziggler, driving them both onto the steel floor of the Chamber. Then, right as Punk seemed to have The Miz ready to tap in the Anaconda Vise, Jericho’s pod opened up and he tried to target Punk with two of his most devastating maneuvers: the Walls of Jericho and the Lionsault.
Jericho later proved why he is WWE’s leader in Chamber eliminations when he landed a Codebreaker on Ziggler and ousted The Show-Off – his ninth all-time elimination. Shortly thereafter, he returned his fury to Punk by repeatedly slamming one of the pod doors on The Straight Edge Superstar. He then made Kingston submit with the Walls of Jericho and refused to let go of the hold, seemingly out to prove a point by inflicting more punishment.
Taking his eyes off Punk was a big mistake, however. Jericho was rendered unconscious by a vicious kick to the head from the WWE Champion and landed outside of the Chamber, physically unable to continue. As concerned officials attended to Jericho on the outside, Punk was left alone with The Miz on the inside as the final two competitors.
After Miz relentlessly taunted the champ, and then the Milwaukee crowd, Punk seized his moment to catch The Awesome One by surprise with a Go To Sleep and pinned The Miz, defying the odds and escaping the 30-plus minute war as the reigning WWE Champion.
It remains to be seen who will next challenge Punk in six weeks at WrestleMania XXVIII, but you can be sure Jericho will be out for his revenge. Once he comes to his senses, that is.