It’s not surprising that CM Punk cites the radical “Rowdy” Roddy Piper as a childhood influence. After all, Punk is the embodiment of the anti-establishment, whose skill at igniting verbal pipe bombs is rivaled only by “Hot Rod” himself.
CM Punk even looks the part of rebel with his too-numerous-to-count tattoos and body piercings. Yet, he waxes way more philosophical than his exterior might suggest, and has shown a diverse set of interests that include ghost hunting, G.I. Joe and the “Straight Edge” movement, a subculture that rejects the use of drugs, alcohol and a dependency lifestyle.
His in-ring repertoire is an assimilation of fighting styles, all of which were put on full display during his debut in The Land of the Extreme in 2006. Since then, CM Punk has added many accomplishments to his considerable résumé, including the ECW, WWE, World Heavyweight, World Tag Team and Intercontinental Wrestling Championships.
Today, CM Punk is headlining pay-per-views — and he’s doing so in spite of the events of 2011, when he assailed Mr. McMahon with his blunt opinions about the business and made a bold promise not to renew his contract with the company. Punk’s criticism struck a nerve with The Chairman who, against his better judgment, granted The Second City Saint a WWE Championship Match at WWE Money in the Bank in the Superstar’s native city, Chicago. CM Punk not only beat John Cena to win that match, but he also absconded with the WWE Championship as the seconds on his WWE contract ticked down.
Fortunately for WWE fans everywhere, Punk agreed to re-sign with WWE weeks later, compelled to return to the ring to prove that he’s the undisputed “Best in the World.” The Voice of the Voiceless advocated on behalf of disenchanted WWE fans who felt the WWE product was in need of a good (roundhouse) kick in the teeth. He became two-time WWE Champion, proving his mettle by defeating the likes of Chris Jericho, Alberto Del Rio, Daniel Bryan and other elite Superstars.
At Raw’s historic 1,000th episode, CM Punk retained the WWE Championship against John Cena, but refused to save his opponent from an attack by Big Show. Instead, The Rock ran to ringside to save Cena, with the champion slowly retreating to the backstage area. But as soon as The Great One was about to deliver a colossal People’s Elbow to a fallen Show, Punk returned and nailed The Brahma Bull with a clothesline and Go to Sleep.
Following his indelible impact at Raw 1,000, a bitter Punk made it known he felt slighted by the WWE Universe as well as his peers in the locker room, including John Cena. Punk found an ally on his mission for respect in Paul Heyman, the founder of the original ECW who is credited with jump-starting The Second City Saint’s WWE career back in 2006. When asked about the nature of his new association with Heyman, Punk’s reply echoed one of the most quoted portions of his infamous first “pipe bomb” in July 2011: “I’m a Paul Heyman guy.”
More than one year after this “Paul Heyman guy” called out Mr. McMahon in that “pipe bomb,” The Second City Saint clashed with The Chairman in a brutal brawl on the Oct. 8, 2012, edition of Raw. Although no clear winner was decided in that contest — after all, the match never really began — Punk was forced to flee from the encounter when Ryback came to Mr. McMahon’s aid.
A Hell in a Cell showdown with the human wrecking ball looked like the end for The Straight Edge Champion’s historic title reign. The underhanded Superstar pulled off a tainted victory, though, when referee Brad Maddox hit Ryback with a low blow and then performed a fast count. Punk may have won the bout, but he ended up looking like a chump after his 291-pound opponent Shell Shocked him on the roof of the Cell.
The Straight Edge Superstar then defended the WWE Title against not one, but two worthy challengers at WWE’s fall classic. Per Mr. McMahon, Punk competed against both Cena and Ryback at Survivor Series 2012. With Punk’s defeat to Cena on the Nov. 12, 2012, edition of Raw, and with Ryback as ravenous as ever, it appeared as though Punk’s impressive WWE Championship reign was in peril like never before. But after a vicious assault onto Ryback by NXT standouts Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, Punk once again managed to sneak a pin on John Cena to retain his prize. Whether or not Punk and Heyman orchestrated the attack was ultimately irrelevant. The fact remained that the victory allowed the champion to enter day 365 of his title reign, a feat that cannot be ignored.
Love him or loathe him, CM Punk ranks himself high among WWE’s most iconic Superstars ... and the calculating ring general isn’t planning on loosening his grip on the illustrious WWE Title anytime soon.