In June 2011, after pinning WWE Champion John Cena on Raw, Rey Mysterio at Capitol Punishment and finally Alberto Del Rio again in a contendership match (which included Mysterio) all within one week, Punk revealed his contract would expire at Money in the Bank and vowed to leave the company with the WWE Championship; some of his speeches and mannerisms echoed his final months with Ring of Honor. After making a scathing on-air speech concerning the way in which WWE is run and its owner Vince McMahon, he was given a storyline suspension from televised WWE events but was reinstated the following week on Cena's insistence. Upon his return Punk ceased to appear with the remaining members of Nexus and the group would quietly dissolve the same month. This helped transition him from a villainous character back to being a fan-favorite. Two weeks later, at Money in the Bank, CM Punk defeated John Cena to become the WWE Champion on his final night under contract with WWE.
On July 21, CM Punk made an unannounced appearance at a joint WWE and Mattel panel at the San Diego Comic Con to mock new Chief operating officer Triple H and offer WWE Championship tournament finalist Rey Mysterio a match for Punk's own WWE Championship, as long as it was in Punk's hometown, Chicago. Punk appeared at July 23's All American Wrestling show, showing respect to Gregory Iron, a wrestler with cerebral palsy. Mysterio won the WWE Championship tournament on the July 25 episode of Raw, only to lose it to Cena later that night. After Cena's victory, Punk returned to Raw and upstaged the new WWE Champion's victory celebration while also entering into a title dispute. Triple H would later uphold both Punk and Cena's claims to the WWE Championship as legitimate and schedule the two to a match at SummerSlam to decide the undisputed WWE Champion. Punk prevailed but immediately lost the title to Alberto Del Rio, who had cashed in his Money in the Bank contract, after being attacked by Kevin Nash.
Punk, during his second WWE Championship reign, being watched by John Laurinaitis.
The night after SummerSlam, Punk accused Nash of conspiring with Triple H to keep Punk away from the WWE Championship. After repeated confrontations Nash and Punk demanded to face each other at Night of Champions, to which Triple H acquiesced. However, after CM Punk's repeated verbal attacks towards him and his wife Stephanie McMahon, Triple H booked himself to replace Nash. At Night of Champions, Punk lost a No Disqualification match after Nash, The Miz, and R-Truth attacked both men. Miz and Truth also attacked Punk at Hell in a Cell after he lost a WWE Championship triple threat match. He attempted to avenge this by teaming with Triple H against Miz and Truth at Vengeance, but lost again due to Nash attacking Triple H. This helped transition Punk's anti-establishment voice from Triple H to John Laurinaitis, who became the interim Raw General Manager. CM Punk balked at Laurinaitis' promotion and verbally attacked him as a dull yes man.
On October 31, CM Punk strong-armed his way into a match with Del Rio at Survivor Series, where he regained the WWE Championship by way of submission with the Anaconda Vise. He went on to defend the title through the end of the year, retaining in a rematch with Del Rio on the November 28 episode of Raw and against both Del Rio and The Miz in a triple threat TLC match at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs. On the December 26 episode of Raw, CM Punk was defeated by Dolph Ziggler in a gauntlet match; as a result Ziggler became the number one contender to the WWE championship. Had he been successful, Punk would have earned the right to face Laurinaitis in a match. The following Raw, Punk was defeated by Ziggler via countout following interference from Laurinaitis; retaining the championship as a result. Intermeddling from Laurinaitis caused Punk to lose to Ziggler throughout January which ultimately led to Punk attacking Laurinaitis in retaliation. At the Royal Rumble event, CM Punk successfully defended his title against Ziggler, despite Laurinaitis acting as the outside enforcer.
On the January 30 episode of Raw, Chris Jericho attacked Punk and Daniel Bryan during their Champion vs. Champion match, giving Bryan the win. The following week, Jericho explained his actions by dismissing the WWE roster as imitations of himself and singling out Punk for claiming he was the best in the world, a moniker Jericho used the last time he was in WWE. Their rivalry continued through Elimination Chamber where Punk retained the WWE Championship in the namesake structure; while four competitors were eliminated, Jericho was unable to continue the match after being kicked out of the chamber by Punk, causing temporary injury. The following night on Raw, Jericho earned a match against Punk at WrestleMania XXVIII, and in a bid to psychologically unsettle him, he revealed Punk's father was an alcoholic and alleged that his sister was a drug addict, asserting that Punk's straight edge philosophy was paranoia to avoid the same vices and vowing to make Punk turn to alcohol by winning the title from him. John Laurinaitis added the stipulation that the WWE Championship could change hands via disqualification, which led to Jericho inciting Punk into using a weapon, but Punk resisted and retained the title. On the April 2 and 9 episodes of Raw SuperShow, Punk retained the WWE Championship against Mark Henry after losing to him via count-out and disqualification. Following both matches, Jericho attacked Punk and doused him with alcohol. On the April 16 episode of Raw SuperShow, Punk pinned Henry in a no disqualification, no countout match to retain his title. After repeated altercations, the feud between Jericho and Punk would culminate in a Chicago Street Fight at Extreme Rules where Punk defeated Jericho to retain the WWE Championship.
Punk began a rivalry with Daniel Bryan at the May event Over the Limit, retaining the title after reversing Bryan's submission hold the "Yes!" Lock into a pinning combination, however, replays would show Punk visibly tapping out moments after the finish of the match. Punk and Bryan would then begin a concurrent feud with Kane, after attacking him with steel chairs on several occasions. On the June 1 episode of SmackDown, a WWE Championship match between Punk and Kane ended in a double disqualification after Bryan attacked both men. Meanwhile, Bryan's jilted ex-girlfriend AJ turned her affections to both Punk and Kane. This feud would culminate in a triple threat match at No Way Out, where Punk managed to retain the title after AJ distracted Kane. At Money in the Bank, Punk successfully defended the WWE Championship against Bryan in a No Disqualification match with AJ as special guest referee.
On July 23 at Raw 1000, Punk defended his title against Money in the Bank winner John Cena and lost by disqualification after interference from Big Show. When the night's special guest The Rock - who had interrupted Punk earlier to announce he would be wrestling for the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble - intervened Punk unexpectedly attacked him and turning heel in process. The following week, Punk justified his actions, claiming he was tired of people like Cena and Rock overshadowing him when the WWE champion should be the focus of the company; Punk asserted himself further soon after by disrupting a number one contender's match between Cena and Big Show. As a result, both men were entered into the title match against Punk at SummerSlam where he successfully retained the WWE Championship. In the following weeks, Punk would demand respect from people like AJ Lee, Jerry Lawler and Bret Hart and eventually aligned with Paul Heyman in his feud with Cena. At Night of Champions, Punk retained the WWE Championship after he fought Cena to a draw. Punk would continue to feud with Cena, despite the latter's arm injury, rejecting the requests of Mick Foley and Jim Ross to pick him as his Hell in a Cell opponent and leading to a brawl with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. Eventually, Cena would be out of the title match at Hell in a Cell, instead thrusting Ryback into the main event as Punk's opponent. On October 28 at the pay-per-view, Punk, with help from referee Brad Maddox, defeated Ryback in a Hell in a Cell match to retain the WWE Championship. The following night on Raw, a furious Mick Foley would confront Punk for refusing to pick John Cena as his Hell in a Cell opponent. This would lead to the two agreeing on meeting each other at Survivor Series in a traditional five-on-five elimination tag team match with Punk choosing Alberto Del Rio, Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow, and The Miz for his own team. The following week, however, Punk would be taken out as captain, replaced by Dolph Ziggler, and booked in a triple threat WWE Championship match against John Cena and Ryback instead by Mr. McMahon. On November 18 at the pay-per-view, Punk won the match by pinning Cena, following interference from the debuting faction called The Shield, composed of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns, allowing him to retain the WWE Championship and hold the championship for a full year. On December 4, Punk underwent surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus, removing him from his title match against Ryback at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs. Despite his injury, Punk became the longest reigning WWE Champion on December 5, when he hit 381 days, surpassing John Cena's 380 day reign. Punk returned to in-ring action on the January 7, 2013, episode of Raw, retaining the WWE Championship against Ryback in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match, following interference from The Shield.
Role in Subspace EmmisaryEdit