WWE Champion CM Punk confronted WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart
Fifteen years later, Bret “Hit Man” Hart finally came home, returning to the site of his most infamous match as Raw descended upon Montreal’s Bell Centre. And for a minute, the WWE Hall of Famer’s presence was all the WWE Universe needed, as they showered the humbled “Hit Man” with cheers and praise (and more than a few “Thank you Bret” chants) while he thanked the people of Montreal for their unwavering support in the 15 years since Survivor Series 1997 (WATCH: RAW HIGHLIGHTS | EXCLUSIVES)
And while the people of Montreal cheered their hometown hero, WWE Champion CM Punk took the opportunity to make his presence known.
“With all due respect,” Punk began with boos raining down before he slyly began to belittle the “Hit Man.” Punk crassly implied that, had he been the one to face Hart at the ’97 Survivor Series instead of Shawn Michaels, he would have altered the course of history, negated the Attitude Era and caused WCW to win the Monday Night War when he took Hart’s place as the one to “jump the sinking ship.”
Hart was unmoved, matching The Second City Saint quip for quip and berating his decision to leave the Allstate Arena in Chicago last week before his planned match with Sheamus. Punk retaliated with fire, getting right into the “Hit Man’s” face as he reiterated his demands for due respect and vowing that he would cement his legacy as the best WWE Champion ever by “[putting] John Cena to sleep.”
“Just like you’re putting all these people to sleep right now,” Hart retorted.
It took The Voice of the Voiceless a few seconds to find his words after that, but when he did, they were full of venom.
“At Night of Champions, I’m going to turn John Cena into a beaten, broken down shell of a man, just like you are,” Punk said. Boom goes the “pipe bomb.”
Randy Orton def. WWE Champion CM Punk via DQ
The WWE Universe spoke, and it was Randy Orton who slithered forth to challenge WWE Champion CM Punk in a RAWactive Match. As the Montreal crowd showered The Apex Predator with cheers, Punk wasted no time in taking it to his longtime foil, dropping Orton to the mat with consecutive shoulders before The Viper began to rally. Punk responded quickly, driving Orton into the corner and bringing him to his knees with a series of knees and kicks to the gut before dragging him out to the center and hitting a backbreaker, slowing The Apex Predator’s momentum for a moment.
Punk relied on his ground game to keep Orton at bay, wrangling The Viper with a sequence of headlocks and technical strikes until Orton got his second win, mounting an offensive flurry that sent Punk rolling outside the ring. The champion contemplated his options for a moment before heading up the ramp, seemingly content to take a loss via count-out.
Orton was not, however, as The Apex Predator streaked up the ramp and hauled Punk unceremoniously back into the ring. Business quickly picked up, as Orton rolled Punk to the announce table and bashed his head against the commentary desk before the two returned to the ring and Punk gained the upper hand, trapping Orton in a contorting abdominal stretch and later pounding The Viper with an elbow from the top rope.
Looking to put the match away, Punk left Orton prone on the mat and ascended the turnbuckle to perform his elbow drop, but Orton had life in him yet, thwarting The Second City Saint’s effort and sending him airborne with a superplex for a near-fall.
The Viper took control of the match next, slamming Punk with a series of bone-rattling clotheslines and setting him up for the hanging DDT. The champion rallied, though, springboarding off the ropes and flooring Orton with a flying clothesline. Signaling for the Go to Sleep, Punk prepared to put Orton to bed. But The Apex Predator recovered quickly, elbowing his way off Punk’s shoulders and executing the hanging DDT on The Second City Saint before signaling for the RKO …
Until, that is, a certain Showoff decided to get involved.
Dolph Ziggler sprinted from the backstage area, ganging up on Orton with Punk and seemingly leaving The Viper in ruins …
Until, that is, a certain “King” decided to get involved.
Jerry “The King” Lawler was the next to enter the fray, rising up from the commentary table and joining in on the beatdown when Raw General Manager AJ Lee appeared, announcing that Orton and Lawler would team against Punk and Ziggler.
The impromptu tag team match pitting Randy Orton & Jerry Lawler against CM Punk & Dolph Ziggler was meant to restore order to a deteriorating situation after Punk and Orton’s match descended into chaos.
But the madness only amplified, as Orton and Ziggler traded furious blows to open the contest, with Orton gaining the upper hand over The Showoff by bouncing him off the ropes for a suplex. Lawler quickly tagged in, opening his second match in three weeks by unleashing not one, but two flying fists on a prone Ziggler. The Showoff recovered enough to mount some offense of his own, laying a series of dropkicks on “The King” and tying him up in a sleeper hold before disrespectfully smearing his boot all over the WWE Hall of Famer’s face.
Against all odds, though, Lawler reached deep down and found a second wind, recovering from a humiliating beatdown enough to plant Ziggler with a thunderous backdrop that opened the window for him to tag in Randy Orton. The Viper came at The Showoff hard, hauling him over the ropes for the hanging DDT, but Ziggler tossed Orton outside the ring to cut The Apex Predator’s attack short.
Rather than tag in, however, Punk remained on the apron until Paul Heyman himself came sauntering down the ramp. Oblivious to the match unfolding behind him, Punk hopped down from the apron and conferred with Heyman for a few moments. Punk, none the wiser (and not concerned in the slightest) when Orton foiled Ziggler with an RKO to win the contest and send The Showoff packing … did not make the most ignominious of exits, however: He simply retrieved his title and, still in conversation with the mad scientist, walked away.
Later, Matt Striker approached the twosome and demanded clairification on the nature of their relationship. Punk simply echoed his first “pipe bomb” and replied, with no small amount of venom in his voice: “I’m a Paul Heyman guy.”
Bret Hart’s interview with John Cena started out a good deal more positively than his conversation with CM Punk. The two former WWE Champions traded compliments while Hart mentioned that Cena’s rivalry with Punk reminded him of his former animosity with another WWE Hall of Famer, Shawn Michaels. Hart told Cena that he saw a lot of himself in Cena, and a lot of the old HBK in Punk.
While Cena paid due homage to The Excellence of Execution, Hart then asked Cena to reveal what he was going to do to “shut this phony punk up.”
That brought Punk out, blood boiling, to stir the pot once again. Punk echoed Hart’s sentiment that the “Hit Man” and Cena were alike … in the sense that they were “unceremoniously surpassed” by someone better than them — in Hart’s case, it was Michaels, and in Cena’s case, it was Punk himself.
Punk continued to preach to the WWE Universe, extolling his nearly yearlong reign as champion, his humiliation of The Rock and his defeat of Cena in an attempt to throw his weight around before the Cenation leader.
Cena, however, retaliated in kind, throwing Punk’s history as champion back in his face, claiming that Punk retained his mantle “by any means necessary,” which does not truly define a champion in Cena’s eyes. He claimed that Punk, formerly an agent of change, was currently defining himself simply by possessing the WWE Title, which was a far cry from the revolutionary The Voice of the Voiceless claimed to be. Cena then played to the home crowd by talking some smack in French, though Punk was quick to chastise Cena for “lowering himself” to speak “the language of the locals.” This woke the dragon even further in Cena, who erupted in a tirade against The Second City Saint and dubbed him “ignorant” before playing the role of Rosetta Stone and translating hisfrancaisfrom a few moments earlier:
“You say you’re gonna win, but I’m gonna kick your ass,” Cena repeated in English.
After some fuming, Punk lashed out not against Cena but against Hart, who blocked The Second City Saint’s attack and struck him in the head. Punk tumbled from the ring, backed up the ramp, and held onto his WWE Championship like his life depended on it (WATCH: HART DISCUSSES HIS RETURN).