By Graham "GSM" Matthews and John Napolitano
All wrestling fans fantasize about what could have been or what could be inside the confines of the squared circle, whether they're realistic or not. When the current Creative Team fails to intrigue us as an audience, we ask ourselves, "What if we were the bookers?" We then take it upon ourselves to plan out storylines, feuds, matches, and more the way we think they'd make sense; the way fans want to see it happen. In this multi-part series, Graham "GSM" Matthews and John Napolitano, collectively known as The Boo'Kings', take complete creative control of WWE and do some "beast booking" of their own. In this edition, they break down how they would have wanted to see the Summer of Punk in 2011 go down and everything else that would have come along with it.
We all remember how epic the “Summer of Punk” was, but what if it was even better? What if it was revamped? Graham and I have taken on the task of filling in some of the flukes and failures from this historic time period, although granted, there weren’t many. We even do some freestyle booking and venture into the distant future. Without further ado, here is the “Summer of Punk: Revamped.”
On the sweltering summer night of July 17, 2011, CM Punk achieved the impossible when he walked out of the Allstate Arena in his hometown of Chicago as the unemployed WWE Champion. It was perhaps a perfect ending to one of the greatest WWE pay-per-views of all-time, and as such, it remains unchanged in our alternate universe. The only minor change to be made is that Alberto Del Rio wouldn’t attempt to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase on Punk because he didn’t win it; rather, the Raw Ladder match was won by Alex Riley (who will not play any part in the subsequent storyline whatsoever).
Following the unparalleled Money in the Bank event and the departure of the newly crowned WWE Champion, the C.O.O. Triple H, kicks off Monday Night Raw by announcing the advent of a Gold Rush Tournament to crown a new champion. The tournament would see such superstars as Evan Bourne, Jack Swagger, R-Truth, The Miz, Alex Riley, Rey Mysterio, Alberto Del Rio, and John Cena vying for the company’s top prize. After weeks of nonstop action and hard-fought matchups, the finals of this tournament would showcase John Cena and Alberto Del Rio going toe-to-toe at the “Biggest Party of the Summer,” SummerSlam 2011, for the WWE Championship.
The Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, is the home of this monumental event, SummerSlam. Among an absolutely star-studded card is the long-awaited main event. John Cena and Del Rio clash in a back and forth classic. After Del Rio managed to kick out of two Attitude Adjustments, and Cena was able to thwart Del Rio’s dreaded cross armbreaker, an air of silence overcomes the WWE Universe, as the two gladiators reasses their strategies and go back to the drawing board. All of a sudden, the fans watching at home hear Michael Cole, Jerry the “King” Lawler, and Booker T react to a commotion happening near the timekeeper’s area. The fans in attendance see a slew of security guards chasing a slender man in a grey hoodie and denim jeans. A cameraman is able to catch up to the footrace and reveal that a member of the WWE Universe had reached over the guardrail and snatched the WWE Championship. The commentary team tries to redirect attention back to the match, but the mysterious theft is the sole focus of the cameramen and the entire Staples Center.
After realizing what had happened, John Cena and Alberto Del Rio congregate in the middle of the ring, call for a ceasefire, and wait for the thief to be apprehended. The hooded man is able to escape the clutches of the WWE Security by fleeing through the masses of fans and up the stairs to a higher vantage point. Cena and Del Rio stand side by side in utter disbelief as to what they’re witnessing. The mystery man raises his stolen treasure high, as if he had rightfully won the prize, while keeping his right arm behind his back. With all eyes on him, the mystery man dramatically raises his concealed arm, revealing an identical WWE Championship. Just seconds after, the man shakes off his hood to unveil a smug expression. It’s none other than the unemployed champion and the “Best in the World,” CM Punk.
The crowd goes ballistic upon their discovery, and “CM Punk” chants erupt throughout the Staples Center. Punk responds to the adulation by spitting on the stolen championship and lowering it to his side, leaving the twin title alone in all of its glory. With both championships in hand, he is grabbed by security and ultimately handcuffed. He is met by an irate C.O.O., Triple H, who raves with an inaudible tempest of vulgarity. Confusion overcomes the WWE Universe, and just when all was thought to be said and done, Alberto Del Rio rolls up an unsuspecting John Cena and wins the match. Alberto Del Rio is the rightful WWE Champion, and CM Punk is going to jail.
Imprisoned or not, Punk is still the hottest commodity in all of WWE, and because of his demanding popularity, WWE C.O.O., Triple H, agrees to allow him to appear via satellite on the subsequent episode of Raw. Still shocked by the actions of the “Game” from the night prior, the WWE Universe greets Triple H with a chorus of boos, as he enters the arena. “Aitch” delivers a heated barrage of verbiage towards Punk. When it comes time to retaliate, Punk, still wearing both championship belts on his shoulder, calls Triple H out on his questionable officiating and and demands his job back. He explains that he didn’t want to leave WWE without causing some change, and that change didn’t involve Triple H getting drunk with power.
“I’ll let you return to active competition… but only if you win your one-off match at the Night of Champions Pay-Per-View next month,” Triple H says. “Your opponent? This man!”
And at that moment, a familiar guitar riff plays, one heard often throughout the late 1990s in World Championship Wrestling. Out struts none other than Kevin Nash, who hadn’t been seen on WWE TV since the 2011 Royal Rumble match in January. It was then that it became clear Triple H was bringing back his buddies from the past to do his dirty work for him, instead of facing his pipebomb problems head-on.
In the weeks leading up to Survivor Series, Triple H announces the members of his “legendary” team. Captained by the C.O.O. himself, Team Triple H consists of Kliq brother, Kevin Nash, former WWE Champion, Alberto Del Rio, and two outspoken, self-titled conspiracy victims, the Awesome Truth. CM Punk is having a rather difficult time finding four men gutsy enough to take on the man who runs the place, Triple H. Punk’s first acquisition is the WWE Tag-Team Champions, Air Boom. After lengthy negotiation, CM Punk even convinces the WWE Champion, John Cena, to man the charge against Team Triple H, but he’s still missing one soldier who’s willing to go to war with him. With one week remaining before Survivor Series, the four men on Team CM Punk are face-to-face in the middle of the ring with the fearsome fivesome that is Team Triple H.
Triple H begins to mock Punk’s inability to find a fifth man and exclaim how there is no chance Punk will be able to keep his job or his legacy this Sunday. As the WWE Universe comes to a hush, eight iconic words blast through the arena and ignite a frenzy of jubilation. “IF YOU SMELL WHAT THE ROCK IS COOKING.” Everyone in the ring, eyes wide and mouths open, cannot believe what they’re witnessing. The “Great One,” The Rock has seemingly come to join Team CM Punk and vanquish Team Triple H at Survivor Series. He marches to the ring, and all at once, Team Triple H exits the ring with their tails between their legs. As Rocky hits the posts to raise the people’s arm, the C.O.O. closes his eyes as if already accepting defeat. The Rock approaches CM Punk in the center of the ring and shakes his hand to the delight of tens of thousands. The stage has been set. At Survivor Series, it will be R-Truth, The Miz, Alberto Del Rio, Kevin Nash, and Triple H vs. Evan Bourne, Kofi Kingston, John Cena, CM Punk, and The Rock.
At WrestleMania 28, CM Punk goes on to knock off Chris Jericho, while The Rock takes the WWE Championship from John Cena in the “Once in a Lifetime” Main Event. Punk and Cena spend the summer rekindling their rivalry to determine a new No. 1 contender to Rocky’s WWE Championship at SummerSlam. After a series of five-star matches, they’re both deemed worthy of a shot at the gold. In a blockbuster triple threat match for the ages, John Cena pins The Rock in the middle of the ring to reclaim the championship, keeping Punk in chase mode for a while longer. As WrestleMania 29 draws nearer, CM Punk runs into the monstrous roadblock that is the “Beast Incarnate,” Brock Lesnar. (Take note that Lesnar did return the night after WrestleMania 28 but immediately targeted Triple H, instead of John Cena.)
The bad blood between Punk and Lesnar will be showcased in MetLife Stadium at WrestleMania 29. The showdown between the “Best” and the “Beast” will see Lesnar go over in the same fashion as their phenomenal “real-life” match at SummerSlam 2013. With a win over CM Punk at WrestleMania, the “Beast Incarnate” will take his momentum to SummerSlam, where he ends John Cena’s near-one year reign as champion. Brock Lesnar would go on to hold the WWE Championship hostage through WrestleMania 30. By the time January rolls around, CM Punk is finally able to earn his first championship match in over a year and a half by winning the Royal Rumble. “The Best vs. the Beast II” will take place at the Superdome in New Orleans at WrestleMania 30. It’s at the “Show of Shows” that CM Punk hands Brock Lesnar his first defeat since coming to WWE and regains the gold, fulfilling his destiny of reaching the mountaintop of WWE yet again.
So, which version of the “Summer of Punk” was better? WWE’s or ours? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @WrestleRant and @_JohnsJargon!
In Buffalo, New York, at Night of Champions, Punk and Nash’s bout exceeded many expectations, considering one-half of the combatants previously tore his quad (insert your own joke here). But before “Big Daddy Cool” could be put away, Triple H rushes down to the ring and blasts CM Punk over the back with a steel chair, handing him the disqualification win. The C.O.O. continues to orchestrate a brutal beating on the “Second City Saint,” asserting his authority over the WWE Universe’s fallen hero, and officially turning his back on the fans in the process.
Although Punk technically emerged from Night of Champions victorious, Triple H explains the next night on Monday Night Raw, with Kevin Nash at his side, that Punk must win by way of pinfall or submission in order to reclaim his spot on the Raw roster. Because he intentionally cost Punk the match in Buffalo, Triple H grants Punk another opportunity at the Hell in a Cell Pay-Per-View in a rematch against Nash inside of “Satan’s Structure,” ensuring that there would be no interference.
Despite his promise of not getting involved, Triple H makes his presence felt at ringside during Punk’s heated clash with Kevin Nash on October 2nd. Every time CM Punk attempts to go for a cover, Triple H orders the official, Scott Armstrong, to abstain from counting the pinfall. The “Game’s” vindictive persistence and pure hatred towards CM Punk is met by a familiar entrance song. The entrance song belongs to the leader of the “Cenation” and brand new WWE Champion, John Cena. Cena had a hellacious match with Alberto Del Rio earlier in the night, but he still had enough energy to rush down to ringside and bring the fight to Triple H, thus evening the odds for his former rival, CM Punk. John Cena and the “Game” battle up the ramp and into the backstage area. Meanwhile, inside of the steel structure, the former WCW Champion, Kevin Nash, falls to Punk, when Punk finally connects with a GTS to pick up the win and secure his status as a WWE Superstar. However, with the “Game” still in power, what could this mean for Punk’s future with the company?
The night everyone has all been waiting for has arrived. Madison Square Garden is raucous as usual, and no one can believe that Rocky will be teaming with his opponent at WrestleMania 28, John Cena, much less competing for the first time in seven years. The electricity in the air is unfathomable, as the WWE Universe prepares for the traditional Survivor Series elimination main event. Approximately 15 minutes into the match, only CM Punk, John Cena, and The Rock remain against the trio of The Miz, Alberto Del Rio, and Triple H. The action has been exciting and fast-paced, but Team CM Punk is getting ready to hit a speed bump. A sequence occurs where CM Punk enters the ring, untagged, and clotheslines Triple H over the top rope. This allows John Cena to attempt a little Five Knuckle Shuffle.
As Cena hits the ropes to rebound toward his downed opponent, who else but The Rock intercepts Cena and plants him with a Rock Bottom. The heel Madison Square Garden crowd loves what they’re seeing and praises Rocky for his treachery, as he walks up the ramp and eliminates himself from the match. Alberto Del Rio throws his arm over the chest of his fallen adversary to get the pinfall. Down three to one, CM Punk was going to need a miracle in order to keep his job and his legacy. In a performance marked by sheer brilliance, CM Punk would somehow manage to eliminate Alberto Del Rio, The Miz, and his arch rival Triple H in that order and secure the victory. After months of tension and then some, CM Punk has finally defeated the “Game,” Triple H, and removed him as the Chief Operating Officer of World Wrestling Entertainment.
Not one to be shown up, the C.O.O. warns the fans in attendance at Monday Night Raw the next night that John Cena will pay for “aiding and abetting public enemy No.1, CM Punk.” He goes on to spew that he no longer wants to fire Punk, but rather end his career.
“You should have stayed on your couch in Chicago, Punk. You were better off taking your ball and going home. You thought it was Hell here before? You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
Suddenly, Triple H is interrupted by his attacker from last night, the WWE Champion, John Cena. Cena explains that he isn’t exactly Punk’s No. 1 fan, but he’ll be damned if he lets the new C.O.O. turn into an authoritative dictator. After a tense staredown between the champ and the “Game,” a blast of static hits the arena, followed by the playing of Cult of Personality, and CM Punk strolls out on stage, still wearing his fraudulent WWE Championship.
“I’m not scared of you, Paul. I came back to the WWE to change this place, and my first mission is to remove you from office. So go ahead, give me hell. I survived against your fossil of a friend Kevin Nash, and I sure as hell can survive against some part-time suit like you.”
As the WWE Universe praises Punk for his boldly brash statements, Triple H can be seen smirking in the ring.
“Survive, eh? Survive is exactly what you’ll need to do, Punk. Because at Survivor Series in Madison Square Garden, it will be Team Triple H vs. Team CM Punk. And if your team loses, you’re done, gone from the WWE, and erased from the history books. If I lose, and trust me I won’t lose, I will resign as the Chief Operating Officer of World Wrestling Entertainment. Good luck… Phil.”
Moving right along, CM Punk sets his sights on a new goal: establishing himself as the one, true, and only WWE Champion. For months, he had been carrying his fraudulent WWE title around on Monday Night Raw, but never had the opportunity to challenge John Cena to a unification match because he was too busy with Triple H. With the “Cerebral Assassin” now out of power, Punk is granted his long awaited rematch with Cena at the TLC Pay-Per-View. With both belts hanging high above the ring, the two icons vye for the chance to call themselves the true WWE Champion. The “Voice of the Voiceless” comes close to taking both titles home, but in the end, it’s John Cena who walks out with the prestigious prizes in his possession.
During the rubber match between the two on the next night’s Monday Night Raw, Kane makes his shocking return to WWE after spending five months on the shelf thanks to a ruthless attack from Mark Henry on the July 22nd edition of SmackDown. He immediately targets Cena, who he urges to “embrace the hate.” Meanwhile, Punk decides to take the traditional route of reentering the WWE Title picture by winning the Royal Rumble. Halfway through the annual Battle Royal, “Break The Walls Down” hits the arena, and out comes Chris Jericho to the roar of the crowd. Jericho would go on to eliminate CM Punk, only to be thwarted by the eventual winner, Sheamus. It’s made clear on the January 30th edition of Monday Night Raw that Jericho is back for one reason and one reason only. He’s returned to shut Punk up and prove to everyone why he is, in fact, the “best in the world at what he does.” As you can see, our build to WrestleMania 28 is quite similar to reality. The only drastic changes to be noted are that CM Punk and his rival, Chris Jericho, are not feuding over the WWE Championship, whereas John Cena and The Rock will contend for gold in Miami, Florida, on April 1, 2012. Otherwise, our WrestleMania card is identical to the actual card.