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Top Five WWE Championship Matches From The PG Era

With the eighth annual WWE Night of Champions PPV coming soon on the WWE Network on September 21st, I thought it would be nice to take a look back at the five spectacular WWE Championship matches from five of the biggest era’s of the WWE: the PG Era, the Ruthless Agression Era, the Attitude Era, the New Generation and the Golden Era. We’ll start today with the most recent era’s of World Wrestling Entertainment, the “PG/WWE Universe Era.”

5.) SummerSlam 2013~ John Cena (c) vs. Daniel Bryan w/Triple H as Special Guest Referee.

At the time, Daniel Bryan was the fastest rising star on the WWE roster during the summer of 2013. John Cena was coming off his biggest victory in his career defeating The Rock for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 29. Cena was admist of big battles during the summer with monsterous stars such as Ryback and Mark Henry. Bryan was still in Team Hell No with Kane fighting the then WWE Tag Team Champions, The Shield. Throughout the summer, Bryan was putting on the best performances on roster in his stellar matches with the members of The Shield, Cesaro and even Orton. The feeling around the WWE Universe was that Bryan was poised to be the next number one contender to the WWE Championship. John Cena took on “The World’s Strongest Man” Mark Henry at Money in the Bank 2013. Bryan was in the All-Star Money in the Bank Ladder Match, which was eventually won by Orton.

The night after Money in the Bank, then Raw General Manager Brad Maddox told Cena that he can select anybody on the WWE roster to be his opponent at the 26th annual SummerSlam. During Cena’s promo that same night and with the entire WWE roster on stage, the raucous Brooklyn crowd was chanting “Daniel Bryan!” “Daniel Bryan!” “Daniel Bryan!”. Cena teased the fans and was consdering other talents likes Heath Slater, Chris Jericho, Orton, Ryback and even Rob Van Dam, but eventually he selected Bryan to be his opponent at SummerSlam. During the build towards SummerSlam, WWE CEO Vince McMahon had issue with Cena’s decision because Bryan doesn’t fit the WWE mold and that he should reconsider his decision. McMahon made Bryan prove himself through series of grueling matches and Bryan persevered. During that time, WWE COO Triple H was questioning the way Vince was treating Bryan an inserted himself into the match as special guest referee. On the final Raw before SummerSlam on MizTV, Bryan and Cena passionately spoke about their match at SummerSlam, with Bryan making the point that this is the biggest match in his career and that he can prove his detractors wrong. Cena made a point about how he’s not a parody of wrestling, he busted his ass for 12 years and that he can’t put Bryan up there in the ranks of the greatest stars of all-time because he doesn’t deserve it yet. As tension grown during the segment, Triple H came out seperated the man and then Raw Money in the Bank winner Randy Orton came out to remind everybody that he’s still can cash in his breifcase at SummerSlam.

At SummerSlam admist of Brock Lesnar and CM Punk putting on possibly the match of the year and John Cena revealing that he had a torn triceps Bryan and Cena looked to steal the show. In one of the best technical matches of the year, Bryan won his first WWE Championship via giving Cena the running knee to pickup the victory. As Bryan was celebrating in the ring with Triple H, Orton came out to tease a cash in as Bryan turn around Triple H gave a Bryan a pedigree which allowed Orton to come in and cash in his briefcase and become the new WWE Champion and was the formation of “The Authority.”

4.) Over the Limit 2012~ CM Punk (c) vs. Daniel Bryan

In 2012 CM Punk was admist of his legenardy 434 day title reign as WWE Champion. Punk was battling Chris Jericho at WrestleMania 28 and Extreme Rules 2012 to decide who was “The Best in the World.” Daniel Bryan just came off his most embarassing lost in his career losing his World Heavyweight Championship to Sheamus at WrestleMania 28 in 18 seconds. There was a beat a clock-challenge tournament on the April 30th edition of Raw to determine the number one contender to the WWE Championship which Bryan won in fastest time over WWE Hall of Famer Jerry “The King Lawler.” Bryan punched his ticket to Raleigh, North Carolina to take on his former Ring of Honor companion Punk for the biggest prize in sports entertainment history.

Who would have ever thought that the two guys from the independet circuit and the “King of the Indies” would feud over the WWE Championship? WWE played up to these two performer’s tremendous past and the “Internet Fans” during the build towards Over the Limit 2012. Bryan and Punk put on the best technical match of 2012 at Over the Limit and the match certainly didn’t dissapoint. The Raleigh crowd was split 50/50 cheering for both Bryan and Punk. Bryan had the NO! Lock on Punk. Punk then flipped Bryan over and won the match in controversial fashion. During the replay after the referee made the three count, Punk starting tapping out. The controversial finish led to series of matches and also included a love triangle with Kane and AJ Lee. Punk and Daniel Bryan proved that you don’t have to be a body builder or a prototype to be in the main event scene in the WWE.

3.) SummerSlam 2014~ John Cena (c) vs. Brock Lesnar w/Paul Heyman

The biggest fight of the summer was set for SummerSlam as then 15th time Champion John Cena took on “The Beast Incarnate” Brock Lesnar. John Cena obtain his 15th WWE Championship at Money in the Bank 2014 despite the fact that the “Authority” had their guys in Kane and Randy Orton trying to do everything they can do to make sure that neither John Cena or Roman Reigns wins the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Lesnar defeated The Big Show at Royal Rumble 2014 and more importantly conquered The Undertaker 21-0 undefeated streak at WrestleMania 30. It was two years since Lesnar and Cena were in the same ring and they were en route into a collision course at SummerSlam.

During the build towards SummerSlam, Cena admitted that he was in stored for the beating of his career and he knew what he had to do to make sure he keeps his championship. Paul Heyman and Lesnar brought up the fact that if he didn’t leave the WWE in 2004 would John Cena still be the face of the WWE? BLesnar talked about he does everything in his career on his own terms and when he wants to conquer something he would do everything in his power to make sure that goal is accomplished. A series of tremendous video packages and a special on the WWE Network added all the layers necessary for this match to occur on the grand stage of SummerSlam.

You weren’t sure what type of match you were going to get because the previous match they had at Extreme Rules 2012 was an Extreme Rules Match and Cena won that match. This match was a one-on-one fight. 30 seconds into the fight Brock Lesnar layed out John Cena with a F5 and then went on to demolish Cena with 16 German Suplexes. Cena tried one last come back and locked the STF on Lesnar. “The Beast Incarnate” countered and finished off Cena with the F5 to win his first WWE World Heavyweight Championship in 11 years. It was the most unique title change I’ve ever seen in wrestling history and the next chapter of this story will be told at Night of Champions on the WWE Network in the rematch as Lesnar will be defending his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Cena.

2.) Extreme Rules 2012~ Chicago Street Fight CM Punk (c) vs. Chris Jericho

When Jericho return in 2012 he proclaimed that it was going to be the end of the world as you know it, but little did the WWE Universe know that it would be the end of the WWE Title reign of the “Best in the World” CM Punk. After failed attempts at the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble, Elimination Chamber, Jericho won a battle royal on the February 20th edition of Raw to become the number one contender for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 28. The battle was set for two of the greatest technical wrestlers of all-time to battle one-on-one to determine who is the “Best in the World” on the biggest stage of the WWE, WrestleMania. Things went into a different directon when Jericho started to question Punk’s “Straight Edge” persona due to the past of his father being an alcoholic and his sister having a problem with substance abuse. Things got personal and at WrestleMania 28 when new Raw and SmackDown General Manager John Laurinaitis told Punk before his match that he doesn’t want a brawl, he wants a wrestling match. Laurinaitis told Punk if he got counted out or disqualified he would lose the WWE Championship to Jericho.

At WrestleMania 28 in a 25 minute back and forth match, Punk retained his WWE Championship when he made Jericho tap out to the Anaconda Vice. The night after WrestleMania during a match for the WWE Championship with Punk and Mark Henry, after Punk won the match, Jericho came out and attacked Punk. Jericho then bashed a bottle of Jack Daniels over Punk’s skull to leave a statement that this feud wasn’t over just yet. During the build towards Extreme Rules the following month, Jericho continued bringing up the past of Punk’s family and continued to bring things to boling point which led to a Chicago Street Fight at Extreme Rules 2012.

In a fun and very physical WWE Championship Street Fight Punk defended the honor of his family, his title and his 15,000 close personal friends at the Allstate Arena and defeated Jericho. Whether you liked the storyline between these two you can’t deny that these two legends put two of the best matches in the year of 2012 for the WWE.

1.) Money in the Bank 2011~ John Cena (c) vs. CM Punk

Prior to cleanly defeating Rey Mysterio that Sunday at Capitol Punishment, Punk promised to make one of the most “honest” decisions in history. After winning a No. 1 Contender’s Triple Threat match for the WWE Championship the next night on Raw, Punk revealed that his contract would expire the night of the Money in the Bank pay-per-view and that he would leave his hometown of Chicago as WWE Champion.This announcement sent shock waves throughout the WWE, with many people wondering what would become of not only Punk’s New Nexus faction, but also the WWE title if he were to actually win it. As interesting as the championship match between Punk and Cena was at this point, it was about to get a whole lot more intriguing in one week’s time.

On the subsequent edition of Raw, Punk cost Cena his Tables match against R-Truth in the night’s main event. Moments later, Punk demanded a microphone and made his way to the top of the stage.While wearing a vintage Stone Cold Steve Austin shirt and sitting Indian-style, The “Straightedge Savior” proceeded to air out his grievances for the whole world to hear. From Mr. McMahon to The Rock, Punk called out everyone he had a problem with and even made references to Paul Heyman, Brock Lesnar and Ring of Honor, among other things. Minutes after Raw ended, the Internet exploded with rave reviews of Punk’s “pipe bomb.” WWE subsequently suspended (in storyline, of course) Punk and went even as far as to un-verify him on Twitter, which made me believe that the entire angle was 100 percent real.Mr. McMahon returned to Raw that night to confront Cena, who begged McMahon to reinstate Punk and make the match (which had been called off the week prior) official for Money in the Bank .McMahon reluctantly agreed, but on one condition: If Cena were to lose to Punk at the event, he would be fired.

The explosive Chicago crowd came alive with roaring Punk chants just as “This Fire Burns” by Killswitch Engage blasted throughout the Allstate Arena. This marked the final time that song would ever be heard on WWE television.Punk played to his hometown followers, sporting a new red, black and white shirt with “Best in the World” written across the back of it, along with the date. His signature mustache had since been shaven off, and Punk appeared ready for battle.Those massive cheers soon turned to jeers as Cena entered the arena. It was unlike Cena to not salute the fans at the top of the stage, but as Michael Cole noted on commentary, “The Champ” was in enemy territory.One thing that I absolutely adored about this match while watching it live was the fact that Punk kicked out of not one, but two Attitude Adjustments. Cena didn’t hesitate in pinning Punk, either. He went straight for the pinfall after connecting with his finishing maneuver and Punk kicked out both times, which put Punk over in a big way and said a lot about his resilience.

Was the match perfect? No, but it was close. There were a few botches over the course of the contest, but that did not at all take away from the overall excitement of the bout. As the clock slowly ticked towards midnight, Punk and Cena found themselves in a stalemate. They used everything in their arsenal and were now resorting to desperate measure to put the other away. From the Anaconda Vise to the STF, both valiant competitors refused to submit to the other. By the 30-minute mark, this viewer was practically biting his nails in anticipation of what would come next. Neither Punk nor Cena appeared to have anything left in the tank.

In the final few minutes of the contest, Mr. McMahon and JohnLaurinaitis were seen standing in the ramp. This would be Laurinaitis‘ first (and certainly not last) appearance on WWE television under his new name, as he, too, was the target of disparaging remarks made during Punk’s initial rant promo.Cena locked in the STF on Punk for the second time in the matchup and looked to be on the verge of forcing the hometown hero to tap out. Before that could be done, though, McMahon ordered Laurinaitisto ring the bell and end the bout. As the man formerly known as Johnny Ace ran to ringside, Cenareleased his submission hold on Punk and clocked Laurinaitis with a right hand before he could make it to the timekeeper’s area. Cena told McMahon that he didn’t want it done that way before making his way back into the ring.As he re-entered the squared circle, he was met with a GTS from Punk, which put Cena out for the three count.

It was the greatest match I seen in person and I rank it up there with my TOP 5 matches of all-time. Look back on the show during Punk’s entrance you will even see yours truly sitting next to the “If Cena Win’s We Riot Guys.” Money in the Bank 2011 was one of the greatest nights of my life it was the night that I know that I want to be in professional wrestling I didn’t want to be in seats watching the match I wanted to be calling the action.

That’s it for this edition of the TOP 5 as the road to WWE Night of Champions continues we’ll look back at the TOP 5 WWE Championship matches from the Ruthless Agression Era, the Attitude Era, the New Generation Era and the Golden Era.

Hope you guys enjoyed the article.

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About Josh Lopez

Josh Lopez
Josh Lopez is the host of the Pro Wrestling Experience on Chicagolandsportsradio.com and is a graduate of the Illinois Center for Broadcasting. You can email him at joshlopezwwe94@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @JoshLopezCSR

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