By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Here on SummerSlam Recall, I will be ranking my top 20 favorite matches in WWE SummerSlam history. A new installment will be posted every day leading up to SummerSlam 2016, culminating with my No. 1 favorite match on Saturday, August 20th. Each article will offer an in-depth look at each match and an analysis of why it is among my favorites.
John Cena vs. CM Punk from Money in the Bank 2011 is my favorite match of all-time. There, I said it! I don't want to go into immense detail as to why that is, simply because I don't want to bore anyone who has heard me talk about it ad nauseam before, but I felt compelled to mention that because it is part of the reason why this match is so high up on the list. I couldn't cite one bad match Cena and Punk had together, though some of their battles have been better than others.
That said, I think their match from SummerSlam 2011 doesn't usually get the credit it deserves for being as great as it was. Did it have a superior story to the one they told at Money in the Bank? No. Was it as well-wrestled as their match from the February 25, 2013 edition of Raw? Probably not. Regardless, there was excitement in the air for this anticipated encounter coming off the controversy from the month prior, and fans were anxious to see who would be crowned the undisputed WWE Champion once and for all.
For the first time in WWE's history, we had two WWE Champions. Punk left the company as an un-contracted champion at Money in the Bank, and in his absence, Cena won a tournament to become the new title holder. Once Punk shockingly resurfaced (with killer new entrance music, might I add) mere moments later, it was obvious that they were on a collision course toward a champion vs. champion, title for title match at SummerSlam.
Cena vs. Punk II was enough to entice viewers to tune into the event, so was it really necessary to throw Triple H into the mix as the match's special special guest referee? Sure, he had been an integral part of the build to the bout by teasing tension with Punk on a few occasions, and I guess it was compelling to predict a scenario where HHH and Cena double-crossed the newly turned Voice of the Voiceless, but the focus should have remained solely on the ruthless rivals.
Despite The Game's involvement in the contest, Punk and Cena were still going to deliver a strong main event for the biggest blockbuster of the summer, and that's exactly what they did. I have alluded to this in the past, but my biggest gripe with rematches in wrestling is that they tend to feel like rehashes of their predecessors. A great rematch, however, will play off key spots from the previous bout, showing that the combatants studied their opponents and weren't going to make the same mistake twice.
That said, Punk and Cena successfully did that by putting on a wrestling clinic and powering out of each other's patented maneuvers. With the general sense among fans being that anything could happen, every nearfall was suspenseful, but what shocked me more than anything else (in a good way) was that Punk was able to go 2-0 against Cena in a big time matches. Okay, so Cena's foot was on the bottom rope and Triple H missed it, but how many people can say they've beaten The Champ at back-to-back pay-per-views?
Questionable conclusion aside, the match was yet another gem from Cena and Punk, made even more memorable by what occurred afterward. While Punk celebrated his latest championship triumph, he was ambushed from behind by a returning Kevin Nash, who proceeded to lay out Punk with a devastating Jackknife Powerbomb. From there, an opportunistic Alberto Del Rio capitalized and cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase to become the new WWE Champion. And so ended the Summer of Punk.
SEE ALSO: "SummerSlam Recall, Match #7: Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk, SummerSlam 2009"