As WWE RAW entered its final segment on June 27, 2011, nothing seemed particularly out of the ordinary.
That night’s show was headlined by a non-title tables match between R-Truth and then-WWE Champion John Cena. It was a typical main event for the time period, which offered no indication of the history-making moment that was about to unfold.
The match itself ended when CM Punk made his presence known to cost Cena a victory. However, Punk wasn’t done, as he sat cross-legged on the RAW stage with a microphone, ready to address the audience in attendance at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.
What followed was not your typical professional wrestling promo. In fact, it was unlike any other segment previously witnessed on WWE television. Punk had grievances to air with the company, its superstars and its fans – and he aired them in spectacular fashion!
Firstly, he buried the promotion for pushing Cena as its top attraction ahead of him.
“I hate this idea that you are the best. Because you’re not,” said Punk to Cena, who was lying prone in the middle of the ring at the time.
“I’m the best. I’m the best in the world. There’s one thing you’re better at than I am and that’s kissing Vince McMahon’s a**,” he stated, clearly frustrated that Cena continued to get the same preferential treatment that had been afforded to the likes of Hulk Hogan and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in the past.
“You’re as good as kissing Vince’s a** as Hulk Hogan was. I don’t know if you’re as good as Dwayne, though, he’s a pretty good a** kisser. Always was and still is.”
Punk also blasted the company’s habit of encouraging its talent to reach for the so-called ‘brass ring’ in order to improve their standing on the card.
“I’ve grabbed so many of Vincent K. McMahon’s brass rings that it’s finally dawned on me that they’re just that, they’re completely imaginary. The only thing that’s real is me and the fact that day in and day out, for almost six years, I have proved to everybody in the world that I am the best on this microphone, in that ring, even in commentary! Nobody can touch me,” vowed Punk.
The audience themselves were also not safe from the wrath of ‘The Best in the World’ as he criticised WWE fans for eating up whatever was served up to them by the promotion, before revealing that he couldn’t wait to leave.
“The reason I’m leaving is you people. Because after I’m gone, you’re still going to pour money into this company. I’m just a spoke on the wheel. The wheel is going to keep turning and I understand that. Vince McMahon is going to make money despite himself. He’s a millionaire who should be a billionaire. You know why he’s not a billionaire? Because he surrounds himself with glad-handed, nonsensical, douchebag (censored) yes men, like John Laurinaitis, who’s going to tell him everything he wants to hear.”
To be so publicly scathing of the company and its customers was a bold move – one that has never been repeated again on quite the same scale. Shots were taken at WWE for squandering recently-released talent and failing to reward hard work. Punk even broke a cardinal rule of television as he spoke directly to the camera in order to acknowledge his close friend (at the time), Colt Cabana, who worked for independent organisation Ring Of Honor.
“Whoops, I’m breaking the fourth wall,” laughed Punk as he waved into the camera. “Hey, Colt Cabana, how you doing?
The most shocking remark of the night was saved for the WWE Chairman himself, though.
“I’d like to think that maybe this company will be better after Vince McMahon is dead. But the fact is, it’s going to be taken over by his idiotic daughter and his doofus son-in-law and the rest of his idiotic family”.
Crazy stuff. The full video can be seen here…
Punk’s outburst was so effective because it was essentially him giving his true feelings on the state of WWE, completely blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. Fans lapped it up at the time and still remember it fondly a decade later, despite Punk having last appeared as an active Superstar in January 2014.
He’s been gone seven years and still Punk remains one of the most talked-about men in professional wrestling.
It’s been 10 years, but the legend of CM Punk’s ‘pipebomb’ promo will live on for some time to come yet.