BOSTON – WWE Champion John Cena and CM Punk used every tool in their respective arsenals as they battled to determine which Superstar was truly “Best in the World” in front of the Cenation leader’s hometown Boston crowd. Ultimately, it was Cena’s impressive top rope German suplex that would conclude this brutal bout. Yet, it wasn’t Cena’s arm that was raised in victory at the end of the night.
After Cena began celebrating what appeared to be his 11th WWE Championship victory, referee Chad Patton noted that Cena’s shoulders were also flat on the canvas as the Cenation leader had Punk in a pinned. As explained by ring announcer Justin Roberts, the match had officially ended in a draw … with CM Punk retaining the WWE Title. (PHOTOS)
The smirk that Punk wore at the end of the night as he strode up the entrance ramp – WWE Title and Paul Heyman in tow – mirrored the one he wore at the beginning of the bout. Clad in first place New York Yankees–esque pinstripes to rile up the last place Boston Red Sox faithful in attendance, The Straight Edge Superstar set a deliberate pace as he kept his powerhouse opponent off his feet. By taking Cena’s size advantage out of the equation, Punk clearly surmised, the bout would be a manner of wearing Cena down before finishing him off with a Go to Sleep or his signature submission hold, the Anaconda Vise.
The tactic was working, inspiring guest commentator John “Bradshaw” Layfield to note that Punk was wrestling a “perfect match” and had gone into this bout with a thought-out game plan. Every time Cena tried to shift momentum, whether with a series of shoulder tackles or with his Five Knuckle Shuffle fist drop, Punk was seemingly one step ahead. Heyman, whose current association with The Second City Saint has yet to be revealed, looked on approvingly from ringside.
As Punk tried to wear down the challenger with submission after submission, it was Cena’s pure strength that helped the Cenation leader escape Punk’s holds, much to the delight of Cena’s family watching the action from the front row. Cena was not only driven by a desire to once again hoist the WWE Title above his head, but he was also determined to end Punk’s aggressive and dangerous quest for respect at any cost. Would that desire be enough, though?
After gaining the upper hand in a brutal back-and-forth brawl, Punk seemed to signal an early victory when he ascended the turnbuckle and flew through the air, driving a savage elbow directly into Cena’s heart. The Second City Saint followed up his aerial feat with the Go to Sleep, the very move that twice put Cena away in their now-iconic WWE Championship clashes at Money in the Bank and SummerSlam the previous year. However, this time, Cena kicked out of the GTS, much to the disbelief of the WWE Universe, the announce team and, yes, Paul Heyman. It was at this point that frustration began to show on the face of the WWE Champion. Having pulled out all the stops, Punk regained control, but only momentarily, as he soon fell victim to both the Five Knuckle Shuffle and the Attitude Adjustment. Just as Cena had astonishingly kicked out of the GTS, so too had Punk outlasted Cena’s signature maneuver.
It was at this point in the bout that both Superstars began employing even riskier attacks, with Cena executing an aerial leg drop and Punk taking to the sky with a poorly scouted moonsault. Punk then countered yet another Attitude Adjustment attempt into a Go to Sleep, which Cena again kicked out of. Increasingly agitated, Punk went outside of his own arsenal and attempted to silence Cena with a Rock Bottom – The Rock’s very maneuver that defeated Cena at WrestleMania XXVIII — but even such mind games would not fell the indomitable Cena, who caught Punk in yet another Attitude Adjustment. As the WWE Universe looked on with bated breath, Punk stayed alive by kicking out before the three-count.
Exhausted, battered and desperate, both Superstars traded blows atop one of the turnbuckles for a moment that had the WWE Universe packed inside Boston’s TD Garden and watching around the world wincing in anticipation of an imminent ring-shaking impact. However, no one could have seen what happened next.
With Punk perched on the top rope, Cena threw Punk backward in a stunning German suplex, a move that seemed to signal victory for the West Newbury, Mass., native. However, as the pink-and-black clad ring warrior’s entrance music blared throughout the arena, Cena’s victory celebration was cut painfully short as referee Chad Patton’s ruling was made public: Both Superstars’ shoulders were pinned to the mat when the three-count was made, thus ending the bout in a draw. As a result, Punk’s 300-plus day WWE Title reign rolled on. Not content with merely besting Cena, Punk laid out the then-unsuspecting Cenation leader by striking the challenger with the WWE Title itself. “Respect” indeed. (WATCH: CHAD PATTON EXCLUSIVE)
Punk’s crusade for respect has been about more than the WWE Championship, and it’s unlikely that he’s going to be satisfied by his victory at Night of Champions. As for Punk’s association with the Original ECW founder, this “Paul Heyman guy” is keeping us all guessing.
But what of Cena? It remains to be seen how The Cenation Commander-in-Chief will respond to this controversial hometown defeat, but as is always the case with the Superstar that truly personifies “hustle,” “loyalty” and, yes, “respect,” Cena won’t take this disappointment lying down.