The WWE Universe was promised an “Old School” Raw, and few things fit that bill more than the toll of The Undertaker’s gong. Raw had barely begun in Buffalo when The Deadman rose again, stalking through fire and flames and summoning a WrestleMania insignia on the TitanTron, apparently signaling his preparation to face an opponent on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
The Phenom’s apparent challenge brought out four potential foes: Randy Orton, Big Show, Sheamus and CM Punk, who deemed it destiny that he end The Deadman’s WrestleMania streak; a renewed “purpose” given him following the loss of his precious WWE Championship and the opportunity to main-event WrestleMania. With tensions mounting between the fearsome foursome, Managing Supervisor Vickie Guerrero restored order with an executive decision: Orton, Sheamus, Show and Punk would do battle in a Fatal 4-Way to determine who among them would tempt fate and tangle with The Undertaker at WrestleMania.
CM Punk proclaimed himself “God” to the WWE Universe
Even without the WWE Championship, CM Punk’s crassness knows no bounds. The deposed former champion took to the ring only hours before a potentially career-altering match against John Cena to proclaim his disdain for the WWE Universe. And even for a man who relishes the opportunity to put himself on a pedestal, Punk’s legend seems to have grown to unprecedented heights in his own mind. “Tonight is about what is more important than The Rock. Tonight is about what is more important than WrestleMania,” Punk said. “Tonight is about me.
“I am not just a Superstar,” Punk continued, fire and brimstone erupting from his microphone as his homily reached a fever pitch. “I am an icon that walks among Superstars. … You are in the presence of greatness on two feet. I am not just a human being. I am immortal … a legend. An icon.
“And in this world that you all inhabit, I … I am God.”
John Cena def. CM Punk to decide the No. 1 contender to the WWE Championship
Perhaps calling himself “God” was excessive self-praise for CM Punk. Perhaps The Straight Edge Superstar was resting too much on his laurels, and perhaps Monday in the American Airlines Center simply wasn’t his night, because John Cena managed to reverse nearly two years of bad luck against the former WWE Champion and pin CM Punk to punch his ticket to the WrestleMania main event in a bout 10-time WWE Champion had appropriately dubbed the “Thunderdome in Dallas.” The Cenation leader and the onetime “Voice of the Voiceless” have a rivalry that stretches back years, and they brought every moment of that mounting tension to a grueling, nearly half-hour-long contest with the biggest opportunity in sports-entertainment hanging in the balance.
Despite his defeat, let it never be said that Punk laid down and died against the 10-time WWE Champion. The Straight Edge Superstar battled his archrival like his life depended on it, using every hold, strike and aerial maneuver in his extensive arsenal to keep Cena at bay. Cena answered in kind time and again, employing an array of his own technical holds to gain the early momentum, but Punk would not be so easily quelled. The Straight Edge Superstar surged back by raining elbows on the back of Cena’s neck and applying a series of submission holds to sap the strength out of him.
The strategy seemed to work when Punk thwarted Cena’s signature shoulder blocks and seemingly regained control for good, but Cena surged back and the two took their fight to the ground, taking each other to the brink by trading their signature submission holds. The back-and-forth nearly sapped the strength from both men but Cena appeared to have the advantage when he plastered Punk with a powerbomb and a top-rope leg drop, but he couldn’t seal Punk up even with whiplash-inducing Attitude Adjustment out of nowhere, nor could Punk with a pair of Go to Sleeps that left the Cenation leader crumpled on the mat.
Punk’s frustration ultimately got the better of him, as The Straight Edge Superstar attempted a series of covers on Cena in a state of disbelief, wasting time that otherwise might have been spent further weakening the Cenation leader. Looking for one final maneuver to put the match away, Punk went up for the flying elbow but Cena dodged the attempt and sent Punk spinning with a hurricanrana. One Attitude Adjustment later to the stunned challenger and CM Punk was on his back, with John Cena headed to WrestleMania once more. And for the first time in a long, long time, CM Punk did not have a single thing to say.