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Night Of Champions 2013 Preview: CM Punk vs. Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel & Paul Heyman (Elimination Handicap Match)

CM Punk is determined to get his hands on Paul Heyman at Night of Champions if it’s the last thing he does.

So obsessed is The Second City Saint with destroying his onetime confidant that he challenged Heyman and his “more perfect than Perfect” client, Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel, to a Handicap Match after they handcuffed and savagely brutalized Punk on the Aug. 26 edition of Raw.

Raw General Manager Brad Maddox — following WWE COO Triple H’s supposed business-first credo — saw the appeal of such an encounter and made the match official for Night of Champions on Sept. 15. Maddox even upped the ante, turning the bout into an Elimination Handicap Match, meaning Punk will have to prevail in two falls to win. The stipulation also allows for the possibility of The Straight Edge Superstar facing Heyman in a long-awaited one-on-one scenario. Maddox also warned that if Heyman tries to get out of the match, Punk will never have to see him again.

Watch Punk and Axel get out of control | See photos of “The Best vs. The Beast”

Since double-crossing Punk weeks ago, the scheming manager has shrewdly avoided landing in the same ring as The Best in the World in any official capacity, despite several close calls.

The Second City Saint scored some measure of retribution during “The Best vs. The Beast” match with Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam, punching Heyman and locking him in the Anaconda Vise. Though Punk’s blissful mid-match beatdown of Heyman was enough to leave the extreme mastermind’s arm in a sling, the onslaught was also short-lived, interrupted by The Anomaly.

At Night of Champions, Heyman’s time for running may, in fact, be over. Not to be neglected, however, is the third party involved: Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel. The Best in the World has so far overmatched the third-generation Superstar in every outing, yet with each encounter, the ever-confident Axel has gleaned more insight into Punk’s strategy. Could Sept. 15 be the date that Axel shocks the world and bests Punk, simultaneously protecting Heyman?

There’s also the distraction factor: Punk’s intense focus on Heyman arguably cost him his match against Lesnar; might that same blind rage cause him to lose sight of the dangerous and opportunistic Intercontinental Champion?

Or, will Axel turn into an appetizer for The Best in the World, a precursor to the entrée that is a one-on-one showdown with the conniving Paul Heyman? To witness the fireworks, be sure to watch Night of Champions live on pay-per-view Sunday, Sept. 15, at 8 ET/5 PT.

Debbie Wiseman Aug 27, 2013