CM Punk A TCB illustration of CM Punk throughout the years.

CM Punk is back in WWE. You probably didn’t ever anticipate that happening, but here we are. In light of that, we at The Comeback decided to help you out. Whether you’re a fan of Punk’s or trying to understand what all the fuss is about, we’ve got the goods for you.

Here are ten CM Punk matches that you should go out of your way to watch right now. You can find all of Punk’s matches listed here on Peacock.

CM Punk vs Edge vs Jeff Hardy – Raw, June 2009

Chronologically, we begin with a gem from TV that you may have forgotten. CM Punk, at this point in his career, was a one-time World Heavyweight Champion. You may remember his abbreviated reign in the summer of 2008. Then Punk went on to win Money in the Bank for the second year in a row at WrestleMania 25.

Punk would later cash his briefcase in. Before that, though, we got a Triple Threat between Punk, future rival Jeff Hardy, and Edge. 2009 wasn’t the most terrific WWE year, but this was a really fun TV match. It’s not something you’ll hear a lot of chatter about, but it’s a fun match nonetheless that you should go seek out. The B-sides are important too. 


CM Punk vs Jeff Hardy – TLC, SummerSlam 2009

CM Punk’s first real ‘big’ match came at SummerSlam 2009 against Jeff Hardy.

With the World Heavyweight Championship on the line, Hardy and Punk competed in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Match. That match, of course, was Hardy’s specialty while he was a tag wrestler. 

Punk and Hardy’s TLC match is fondly remembered, even now. Hardy was Punk’s first big nemesis, and for many reasons, they were perfect foils for each other. 

CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy – Steel Cage, Smackdown, August 2009

Punk and Hardy’s rivalry came to a head on Smackdown in a steel cage match in August 2009. Shortly after their clash at SummerSlam, the two met again in a cage on TV. 

The match was Hardy’s last on TV for several years as he went on depart the company. Punk of course would spend 4+ more years with the company here, so this was the conclusion of a rivalry that kept Smackdown afloat throughout the summer. 

It’s definitely one that helps set the tone for Punk and his career after this moment, so it’s one you should absolutely go out and watch.

CM Punk vs. John Cena – Money in the Bank 2011, WWE Championship

So many of Punk’s biggest career moments have taken place in his hometown of Chicago. His 2021 debut with AEW and return to wrestling after a seven-year hiatus was at the United Center, and his 2023 return to WWE was, just like Money in the Bank 2011, at the Allstate Arena. There are few wrestlers who have their identities tied to the city they’re from more than CM Punk, and Chicago made that clear here.

The story is that Punk was fed up with WWE, and with his contract expiring he planned to leave WWE with the WWE Championship. The unexpected part? He actually did win. The match was good enough that The Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Dave Meltzer gave it a five-star rating, WWE’s first match to receive five stars since 1997.

CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan – Over The Limit 2012

Out of WrestleMania 28, WWE Champion CM Punk needed a new challenger. Enter Daniel Bryan, who won a Beat The Clock Challenge to become the #1 contender. 

Bryan and Punk are forever intertwined in pro wrestling. From their stellar indie work to their WWE runs, these two greats will always be in the same sentence. In May 2012, they tangled in a WWE Championship Match at Over The Limit. 

The match got over 20 minutes and was one of the best singles matches of 2012. There’s an AJ Lee cameo before the match in a segment with Punk, which is fun, and she serves as a guest referee in a rematch later that year at MITB, which is also a hoot. 

The Rock vs. CM Punk – Royal Rumble 2013

It’s easy to forget since Roman Reigns has nearly tripled the number of days, but CM Punk’s 434-day WWE Title reign from later 2011 to early 2013  enthralled and captivated fans who had wanted nothing more than to see him on top of the promotion. Once The Rock and John Cena agreed to a rematch of their WrestleMania 28 match at WrestleMania 29, it felt like the title would have to be involved.

Instead of Punk and Cena going for yet another classic, it was The Rock who crossed paths with Punk, searching for his first WWE Championship in 11 years. What resulted was one of the best matches either man ever had in WWE, with the one-time matchup adding to the match’s historical staying power.

Punk didn’t go down easily, getting help from The Shield (Reigns, along with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose) before then-WWE owner Vince McMahon came out and demanded the match be restarted before The Rock went on to pick up the victory. 


CM Punk vs John Cena – Raw, February 2013 

CM Punk and John Cena are fondly remembered for their rivalry in WWE. Their most memorable match was their bout at Money in the Bank 2011. They also had a memorable outing on Monday Night Raw in February 2013. With a shot at The Rock’s WWE Championship on the line, Cena and Punk competed in the main event of the show. 

In a match that went over 26 minutes, two of WWE’s biggest names went at it in a classic. A lot of WWE TV over the subsequent years has been unmemorable and samey, but people still, to this day, talk about this match. That’s the power of both Punk and Cena, and the work that was put on display in this one. You need to go watch this match. It’s probably still the best TV match since it happened. 

The Undertaker vs. CM Punk – WrestleMania 29

For a generation of WWE fans, The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak was one of the most important parts of the company’s premier event every year. Beginning in 1991 at WrestleMania VII and continuing through this match, Undertaker won every match he was in at WrestleMania, going 21-0 before falling to Lesnar at WrestleMania 30. Whether or not Lesnar should have been the one to beat him will continue to be debated for decades, but many believe it should have been Punk to break the streak instead. He came close, having The Undertaker on the ropes plenty, including hitting a top rope elbow drop from the ring through the announce table outside.

Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk – Payback 2013

Following his WrestleMania 29 loss to The Undertaker (more on that shortly), Punk took some time off to rest up and have a break following his 14-month title reign. The match didn’t have much build leading up to it. Jericho, who lost to Punk at WrestleMania 28 15 months prior challenged Punk to a match at Payback 2013, conveniently held at Chicago’s Allstate Arena, the hometown of Punk. Punk agreed to the match but didn’t make his return until the actual event itself, and picked up right where he left off to continue a strong 2013, defeating Jericho.


Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk – Summerslam 2013

Billed as ‘The Beast vs. The Best’ due to Lesnar’s Beast Incarnate moniker and Punk’s Best in the World moniker, this match is an absolute masterpiece. In one corner, Lesnar, the former WWE champion, Minnesota Viking, and UFC Champion, still in the early stages of his WWE return and looking for a signature match. In the other corner, Punk, coming off of a then record-setting modern era WWE Championship reign and looking to prove something about the big man.

Punk doesn’t back down, taking it to Lesnar with a series of kicks and strikes and coming close to taking down The Beast, countering both his Kimura armbar and F5 before ultimately falling just short.

About Chris Novak

Chris Novak has been talking and writing about sports ever since he can remember. Previously, Novak wrote for and managed sites in the SB Nation network for nearly a decade from 2013-2022