ATLANTA — On a day where champions bask in the glory of their triumph, it was a not a freshly crowned conqueror but a former champion who made the most noise when Raw rolled into Atlanta’s Philips Arena.
Just make sure you don’t call him “former” to his face.
The individual in question was, of course, CM Punk, who remained steadfast in his assertion that the WWE Championship should remain his and that, despite Paul Heyman’s apparent collusion with The Shield, he wasn’t ready to take Mr. McMahon at his word that the video was genuine. “If Vince McMahon wants to paint this picture that Paul Heyman and myself are horrible human beings and are in collusion with The Shield and Brad Maddox, he is going to doctor a video and play it on his television show,” Punk said.
With all said, Punk still deemed Mr. McMahon’s maiming at the hands of Brock Lesnar — regardless of whether Heyman was involved — last week as “karma” for robbing The Straight Edge Superstar of his championship. But right as Punk began to roar that it was day 442 of his championship reign, he was interrupted by none other than …
Yes, Booker T. With Managing Supervisor Vickie Guerrero otherwise occupied by the Heyman-Lesnar situation, the SmackDown General Manager was summoned to Raw to help her handle things for the evening. And his first order of business was finding an opponent for CM Punk, though that decision ended up ultimately being left to the WWE Universe. Via a WWE Active vote, the fans would select Punk’s foe for the evening from a crop of his previous three WrestleMania opponents: Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton and Chris Jericho.
It’s an old, though timeless, question: Who exactly is “The Best in the World”? Well, almost one year after their clash to determine just that at WrestleMania XXVIII, CM Punk and Chris Jericho stepped between the ropes to reopen the argument in a WWE Active Match. And although there was no WWE Championship at stake this time around, both Superstars certainly battled as though it was. Jericho opened the contest like a house on fire, raining chops upon Punk’s tattooed torso, but the furious Straight Edge Superstar refused to let Jericho pull too far into the lead that he could not claw his way back into the bout. While the two remained neck-and-neck in the bout’s opening minutes, Punk battled his way into control and attempted to ground Y2J with a series of torturous submission holds.
Jericho quickly powered back, though, forcing Punk into a defensive mindset and nearly putting the bout to bed by dodging Punk’s flying elbow and executing a Lionsault to the prone former champion. The move seemed to take something out of The Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla, though, as Jericho immediately clutched his chest in pain. With Jericho slightly slowed down, Punk was able to keep the contest on even ground, and it wasn’t long before the two were trading submission maneuvers — first Punk with the Anaconda Vise and then Jericho with a painful-looking Walls of Jericho that nearly forced The Straight Edge Superstar to submit. It was a last gasp effort that ultimately decided the bout, as Punk tossed Jericho shoulder-first into the turnbuckle and unleashed the Go to Sleep on a stunned Y2J to bring the contest to its epic conclusion.
The match was over, but as for that long-enduring question? Well, perhaps this one was a bit too close to decide that particular quandary.