What The Second City Saint may not have factored in, however, was the response of Raw General Manager AJ Lee, who announced that Punk will face both Cena and Big Show in a pivotal Triple Threat Match for the WWE Title at SummerSlam.
Punk insists he’s out for respect, and if ever there’s a match that will prove Punk’s mettle as champion, it’s this one. His challengers are two first-ballot WWE Hall of Famers, and the match format, in which the champion does not have to be pinned or to submit in order to lose the title, is particularly unfavorable for The Second City Saint. For Punk to make good on his promise of standing across the ring from The Rock at Royal Rumble 2013, he will first have to escape the STAPLES Center with the WWE Championship around his waist on Aug. 19.
Punk inserted himself in the Cena-Show No. 1 contender’s match after being inadvertently swept up in the action when Show launched Cena into Punk, who was providing commentary at ringside. Moments later, when it looked as though Cena was ready to nail the Attitude Adjustment on Show, Punk leapt in the ring and blasted Cena. To add an exclamation point to his statement, Cena drilled Show, on bended knee, with a roundhouse kick.
The angry giant, who claims to be the rightful No. 1 contender, still begrudges Cena for wrestling the guaranteed WWE Championship contract away out of his grip at Money in the Bank. The Cenation leader, conversely, can put at least partial blame on Show for interfering in his challenge to Punk’s WWE Title at Raw 1,000. Repeat interference by The World’s Largest Athlete caused the referee to call for the bell and disqualify Punk, costing Cena his one and only guaranteed title match.
Caught in the middle of Cena and Show’s longstanding ill will, as well as their mutual desire to return to the pinnacle in sports-entertainment, is the WWE Champion, who now has bones to pick with each challenger.
Punk and Cena’s history dates back to last summer when The Straight Edge Superstar, coming off his career-defining “pipe bomb” interview, stunningly defeated Cena in back-to-back pay-per-views. A year removed, Punk and Cena appeared to be on friendlier terms until Punk shocked the WWE Universe by not only trying to use Show’s interference to scrape past Cena, but also by refusing to help Cena while the keeper of the WMD continued his onslaught in the ring. In defending his actions, Punk portrayed himself as a fighting champion who would do whatever it takes to keep the title — even if it requires questionable tactics.
However, Punk’s subsequent, and largely unprovoked, interference in during the July 30 top contender’s match suggests that other, perhaps more sinister, feelings separate the two Superstars who, only a short fortnight ago, were both among WWE’s most popular talents. Let it not be forgotten that in much the same way that The Rock supposedly disrespected Punk by looking past him at next year’s Royal Rumble, Cena has seemingly usurped Punk in match priority. Despite his standing as WWE Champion, Punk has taken a backseat to Cena at each WWE pay-per-view since WrestleMania XXVIII. Though determining match order isn’t within Cena’s purview, one must wonder if Punk holds a personal grudge against Cena for the perceived snubs.
Punk also harbors hostility toward Show for his interference in his WWE Championship defense against Cena at Raw 1,000, claiming it robbed him of the chance to win on his own. Show, unsurprisingly, views it differently, saying Punk blew the match even though Show had done all the heavy lifting for him.
With all three warriors set to compete for the most treasured prize in WWE, and with each Superstar coming with his own particular set of objectives and motivations, the Triple Threat WWE Championship Match has an exciting combination of combustible elements.
Can the domineering Big Show back up his claim that Cena and Punk aren’t in his league? Might the headstrong Cena, as intent on recapturing the WWE Championship as he is delivering payback to Show and Punk, persevere? Or will Punk’s crusade for the spotlight, justified or not, power him to victory over two of the most dominant players in WWE this summer? To find out, tune in Aug. 19 to witness all the excitement of SummerSlam 2012.
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