WWE Champion CM Punk def. Daniel Bryan in a No Disqualification Match
Like a swift kick to the chest, love hits hard. But it’s safe to say Cupid’s arrow wasn’t half as powerful as the discretion of AJ, the special guest referee for CM Punk and Daniel Bryan’s No Disqualification WWE Championship Match at Money in the Bank. After all, AJ was the one who, following months of ominous flirtation with both WWE Champion Punk and No. 1 contender Bryan, held the ultimate power to determine the WWE Title’s fate when the two technicians clashed for the third time in as many months with the title on the line. Going into the highly anticipated contest, the WWE Universe was waiting with baited breath to see which Superstar The Geek Goddess would grant favor to.
As always, AJ made it interesting down to the last second.
Punk and Bryan wasted no time in taking advantage of the No-DQ stipulation, taking the fight outside the ring within seconds and trading slaps to the chest with each other before rolling back into the ring and unleashing a flurry of kicks to each other’s legs.
Bryan got the upper hand early, leveling Punk with several of those signature kicks (roaring “YES!” with every strike) and repeatedly dogging the fallen champion with boots to his back and submission holds in an attempt to weaken Punk early on.
The champion countered quickly, though, flooring Bryan with a dive to the outside after the “Yes!” man rolled out of the ring to escape Punk’s offense. From there, the battle spilled up the entrance ramp, where Punk slammed Bryan onto the guardrail, leaving Bryan’s head ringing with the impact and nearly sending him into the stands among the WWE Universe.
That was where things got interesting.
As Bryan and Punk rolled back into the ring, AJ clambered up the apron to follow them and soon found herself airborne after Bryan shoved Punk toward the ropes and The Second City Saint caught AJ with an errant elbow, sending her crashing to the floor and leaving a replacement referee to fill her skipping shoes.
Bryan took advantage of Punk’s distraction over AJ’s safety, felling the champ with an axe handle strike and a flying knee. Bryan then trapped Punk in between the steel steps and ring posts and administered another series of kicks to the cornered champion, sending him into the barrier near the announce table.
An offensive flurry from Punk left Bryan briefly floored before the WWE Universe began to voice its opinion, chanting “We want tables!” at the two competitors. Punk, ever The Voice of the Voiceless, obliged, but Bryan quickly withdrew a kendo stick from beneath the ring and chased Punk back into the squared circle with it. Punk quickly disarmed Bryan, but the “Yes!” man recovered, countering Punk’s leap off the ropes with a vicious strike to his midsection and dropping Punk like a rock.
It was then that Daniel Bryan channeled some extreme aggression, whacking Punk about the back with the kendo stick for a solid two minutes and, momentarily, looking like he had the bout in hand.
Of course, CM Punk would not be denied, recovering from Bryan’s assault with a rush of signature moves, flattening Bryan with a swinging neckbreaker and stunning him with a knee to the face. With Bryan momentarily downed, Punk signaled for the Go to Sleep, but Bryan countered into a rollup for a two count and a kick to the head that knocked Punk down flat to the mat. Bryan’s attempt at a surfboard ultimately proved fruitless, as Punk escaped his clutches and tanned Bryan with the kendo stick. Bryan rallied, though, planting Punk with a superplex off the top rope that left both competitors down on the canvas.
And that’s when things really got interesting.
AJ determinedly stormed out of the locker room area, dismissing the referee and skipping between the fallen competitors before ducking out of the ring and producing a steel chair. After seemingly debating which man to hit with the chair, AJ instead left it in the middle of the ring for Punk and Bryan to fight over. Bryan won the scrum and notched a two count on Punk before entering a vicious plea for AJ to count to three the next time he had Punk on his back.
The Second City Saint rallied again, rolling up Bryan for a two count and turning the chair against his opponent before lodging it in between the turnbuckles. The only problem was AJ blocked the chair with her body before Punk could heave Bryan through the steel. The “Yes!” man found himself facing a similar conundrum when AJ prevented him from retrieving the cane. Punk took advantage of Bryan’s distraction and attempted to execute the flying elbow, but landed on the bare steel of the chair instead.
Bryan nearly captured the win, torqueing Punk in the “Yes!” Lock with the help of the kendo stick, until Punk countered and reversed into a GTS. He was only able to notch a two count on the fallen contender himself, though, and shot AJ a look as equally meaningful as the one Bryan had only moments before.
And then, Punk got the table.
The Second City Saint set up the hardwood near the turnbuckle and the battle climbed to the top turnbuckle, with Punk and Bryan nearly sending each other airborne before Punk finally prevailed, back superplexing Bryan off the turnbuckle and through the pine! A suddenly melancholy AJ dutifully counted to three and ended Bryan’s championship hopes.
It’s safe to say Bryan wasn’t the only disappointed one, though. While the “Yes!” man lied strewn about the ruined table and Punk celebrated with the WWE Universe, AJ forlornly stood between both, receiving attention from neither and looking all the more lost for it.