With CM Punk widely believed to be All Elite Wrestling (AEW) bound at this Friday’s AEW Rampage, it is worth remembering the history the Chicago native has with one Chris Jericho. Above perhaps anyone in AEW, Punk’s most bitter, personal rivalry came with Jericho. Whereas he has endured feuds with other AEW stars in the past, such as Jon Moxley (then Dean Ambrose) and Christopher Daniels, Punk’s 2012 WWE feud with Jericho was excessively bitter; a personal grudge feud between two characters who, quite simply, did not like each other. It made for an epic rivalry and one which, hopefully, could be revisited one day.
Two “Bests in the World” With A Stark Difference
There were similarities between CM Punk and Chris Jericho, of course. Punk’s entire persona was simple: he was the straight edge “best in the world”. Jericho’s was that he was the “best in the world” at what he does. They were two wrestlers who prided themselves on being the best; having the best matches and even being the best on the microphone. Two smaller guys who excelled during a time period when the WWE superstar archetype was that of 6’4″, shredded behemoth. That is where the similarities ended, of course. Jericho has always been a renowned drinker; someone who embodies the rock and roll lifestyle. He likes to party and, most memorably, enjoys a “bit of the bubbly”. Punk was the superstar who, more than anyone else, embodied the underground, straight edge, almost anarchic punk rock movement of the likes of Minor Threat and Rancid. Whereas both believed themselves to be the best, their personal philosophies and worldviews differed and their respective claims of being the best were always going to lead them to clashing in the ring.
WrestleMania XXVIII: CM Punk (c) Vs. Chris Jericho
In the build up to WrestleMania XXVIII, both stars became embroiled in the personal feud most memorable for Chris Jericho digging up CM Punk’s past. In one promo, he mentioned that Punk’s father “is an alcoholic” – a true story, which Punk has spoken at length about on more than one occasion. In a follow-up promo, Jericho referenced Punk’s sister – someone who has struggled with drug and substance abuse for a part of her adult life. Again, a true story. Lastly, Jericho would mention that though Punk’s mother was free of any kind of known addiction, she married Punk’s father after he was born; making Punk the “literal definition of a bastard”. Each week it grew more personal; with the two of them exchanging insults and personal attacks throughout. Jericho’s main objective was simple: to break Punk down and turn his eyes towards addictive substances.
At WrestleMania XXVIII, the two finally clashed. The stipulation was simple: a bout set for one fall and should CM Punk be disqualified, he still loses the WWE Championship – which, as we all know, he would hold for a “modern era” record of 434 days with the reign in question – to Jericho. Both men have spoken of their frustration at not being the main event of this show. Of course, why should two guys as good as they are – competing in a match for the WWE Championship with such a white hot, personal feud – play second fiddle to a match between John Cena and The Rock? Yes, Rock and Cena were unquestionably two box office attractions clashing for the first time, but Punk and Cena were competing for the company’s top prize and were certain to have a better standard of match. Regardless, Punk successfully overcame Jericho and retained his prize. The feud, however, would not end there.
Extreme Rules 2012: CM Punk (c) Vs. Chris Jericho
The rivalry would continue for a while longer and Jericho would double down on his efforts to get Punk to “follow his destiny”; to break his straight edge oath and follow the path of his father – to become an alcoholic. On the April 23, 2012 episode of Monday Night Raw – a mere 6 days away from Extreme Rules 2012 – CM Punk was informed that should he come to the ring intoxicated, he would vacate the WWE Championship to the devious Jericho. Punk came to the ring for a typical alcohol test more akin to an episode of Cops than Raw. He would come out staggering; slurring his speech and cracking wise crack, crowd popping jokes at Jericho’s expense.
First, he would fail to recite the alphabet backwards; “no one in the history of the alphabet has been able to recite it backwards”, Punk would comically slur. Next, he would attempt to walk in a straight line – “the line is a lie, the line is never there” – across the red line blatantly taped to the ring. Again, he would fail embarrassingly. Before handing over the championship, he pleaded with then Raw General Manager, Theodore Long, for “one more chance”. Jericho, who had been cackling at Punk’s presumed drunken display throughout, eventually agreed; believing that he had succeeded in destroying the worldview of his straight edge adversary and had turned him towards a life of addiction. Punk would confidently recite the alphabet backwards (though hilariously and unintentionally missing out a letter) and “Nature Boy” strut in a straight line, before brawling Jericho. 6 days later, in an Extreme Rules match dubbed a “Chicago Street Fight”, Punk would once more overcome Chris Jericho – bringing an end to this feud.
A Rivalry to Revisit?
Including house shows, CM Punk and Chris Jericho have been involved in 93 known matches together since their first all the way back in 2008. They have been rivals, allies, friendly rivals; they have been involved in just about every kind of match together. There have been feuds where Jericho has been the heel and Punk has been the face – much like the 2012 one covered throughout this article – and there have been feuds where the roles have been reversed, much like in the build up to their 2013 feud at WWE Payback 2013. They are two competitors with incredible chemistry and a flurry of impeccable matches together. In addition to this, there is potentially some real life animosity between the two – with Punk having accused Jericho in 2014 (on episode 226 of Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast) of wanting to capitalize on Punk’s fresh exit from the WWE to catch an interview and boost his own podcast numbers. Jericho denied the claims and admitted to liking Punk on his own podcast (Talk is Jericho), but it is clear there have been issues in the past. Then, there have been shots from Punk directed at some of Jericho’s political claims. Should CM Punk indeed be “All Elite”, this is a rivalry which very much might need revisiting. Should they not cross paths once more, we still have an excessive library of brilliant Punk and Jericho content to enjoy.
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