There was no pomp and circumstance in re-introducing Jerry “The King” Lawler to the WWE Universe for his first Raw since his near-fatal heart attack nine weeks earlier, because there was no need for any. Lawler’s mere presence seemed to light a fire in the WWE Universe, each and every one of whom was either on their feet or bowing in reverence when the WWE Hall of Famer made his long-awaited return, a moment that Lawler, Michael Cole and J.R. unanimously agreed nobody was sure would ever happen again. “I just want to say from the bottom of my heart that I apprecaite it.
Is love you all so much,” said a tearful Lawler. “It’s great to be –” Enter CM Punk. The Second City Saint, who clearly has not been one for celebration these past few months, wasted no time in picking up where he left off in his torment of the WWE Hall of Famer. The Voice of the Voiceless’ audacity knew no bounds in particular on Monday night. “It’s good you left the ring when you did,” Punk sneered after Lawler headed back to the announce booth, “because if you did, I would have beat you to death … again.” Because what else should “The King” have expected, Punk said, after getting in the ring with the reigning WWE Champion and “attempting to relive his glory days?”
While the Superstars in the locker room talked about the number of minutes Lawler clinically left the land of the living, Punk presented a figure that he claimed “actually means something:” 358, the number of days he had stood as champion, a number that officially ties him with Diesel on the all-time list. The mockery didn’t stop there, though, as Punk only paused his mockery of Lawler to aid Paul Heyman in the mad scientist’s crass imitation of a heart attack. This, of course, would not stand for Mick Foley, who had been wating in the wings during “The King’s” return and saw fit to confront Punk one final time.
Because even though the two Superstars had supposedly concluded their business following the installation of Dolph Ziggler as a Survivor Series captain, Foley still had a few words for Punk’s attempt to hijack Lawler’s return for himself. ”Let me tell you a secret about Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler,” seethed Foley, the old Cactus Jack fury seeping from his pores. “HE WAS DEAD! And through miracles … he’s here tonight … You think that the fact that Jerry Lawler is here involves you and it DOESN’T!” And yes, while Foley did harbor disappointment over losing Punk as a Survivor Series opponent and the opportunity to “teach him a lesson,” not to mention the hole left in his ranks by Ryback’s absence (to be filled by the WWE Universe via a RAWactive poll) he wasn’t all that upset given the “parting gift” he’d been granted by the powers that be. For Punk’s contest against Cena later in the night, Foley would serve as the Special Guest Enforcer.
Nearly two months after their last meeting, CM Punk’s epic conflict with John Cena resumed in the confines of Nationwide Arena, with Mick Foley patrolling the outside as the Special Guest Enforcer. And despite Punk’s hesitance to mix it up with Cena, the 10-time WWE Champion notched a strong victory over the incumbent titleholder when Foley prevented The Second City Saint from abandoning the contest.
Forced to fight his way out of the predicament, however, Punk responded with gusto despite his efforts to vacate the bout. The Voice of the Voiceless’ technical expertise nearly swung the contest after Punk locked Cena in a vise-like sleeper hold, but Cena managed to power out and create separation by slamming Punk into the turnbuckle. Punk briefly abandoned mat wrestling for brute force when he exchanged a barrage of kicks and punches against the Cenation leader. But blunt force is where Cena lives, and the 10-time WWE Champion countered strongly with his signature shoulderblocks.
Punk was not about to take Cena’s moves lying down, though, and sprang a surprise counter to leave Cena prone for the flying elbow. Cena dodged the airborne strike and landed a Five-Knuckle Shuffle, but Punk again countered, writhing out of the Attitude Adjustment and stunning Cena with a kick to the face before locking him up in the Koji Clutch. Cena broke the hold by reaching the ropes. The maneuver appeared to have taken its toll on him, but as always, Cena would not be counted out so fast. He countered Punk’s springboard clothesline into the STF and, after Foley foiled Paul Heyman’s attempt to break the hold, locked Punk in the maneuver again until the champion made his way to the ropes.
Having had enough, Punk attempted again to leave, but was met by Ryback halfway up the ramp and scrambled reluctantly back to the ring. Cena, however, was lying in wait and pounded Punk with the Attitude Adjustment to pin the champion. Cena’s jubilation was ultimately short-lived as he found himself face to face again with Ryback. Each man grabbed hold of Punk’s precious title, laying claim to The Second City Saint’s prize while Punk himself withered in dread, the elusive yearlong mark never closer and yet, somehow, never quite so far away.