2011 will go down as the year CM Punk broke out and entered the mainstream. His run had grown men, and even sports analysts like Bill Simmons, wondering if professional wrestling is actually real. CM Punk's brilliance on the microphone and storyline rooted in reality made for some of the best WWE moments since the days of Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. In honor of the enigma who pulled thousands of non-fans into following the WWE this year, even if just for awhile, MTV Clutch counts down our favorite CM Punk moments of 2011.
10. Confronting Kevin Nash
The night after Kevin Nash cost him the world heavyweight championship at "SummerSlam," CM Punk confronted the former NWO member and proceeded to chastise him with his usual smug attitude. What's so great about this is when CM Punk reads a text from his little sister that says "O-M-G! Kevin Nash. WTF! Thought he was dead. LOL!"
9. Contract Negotiation With Vince McMahon
The contract negotiation was one of CM Punk's finest moments. But nothing in this ten-minute tirade beats Punk attempting to bring back those delicious ice cream bars from the '80s. We really want one of those.
8. John Cena Interrupts CM Punk's Contract Negotiation
When John Cena interrupts the negotiation and tries to talk sense into CM Punk, it opens the door for Punk to deliver a monologue in Cena's backyard of Boston that is simply awesome. When he says John Cena is no longer the underdog and has become the New York Yankees, all bets are off. Inspired.
7. Triple H's Confrontation
One of the little known facts in this saga is Triple H wasn't a believer in CM Punk early in the wrestler's WWE career. With Triple H becoming the COO, his initial confrontations with CM Punk brought forth some long-standing venom between the two. This one in particular finds Punk and H in a heated back and forth that likely needed little scripting.
6. Shocking Return To RAW
After CM Punk's shocking "MITB" win and subsequent disappearance, the WWE held a tournament to crown a new champion. Surprise! John Cena won once again by defeating Rey Mysterio. As Cena celebrates, Living Colour's "Cult of Personality" drops and in walks the real champion, much to Cena's chagrin. Yeah, it was a little early to bring Punk back into the mix, but still awesome to watch.
5. "SummerSlam" Contract Signing
The "Raw" episode before the champion vs. champion match at "SummerSlam" featured a contract signing with CM Punk, John Cena, Triple H and Jon Laurinaitis. CM Punk completely owned this segment by dissing Triple H's movie career, ripping Cena and The Rock and discussing the "gutless" manner in which the WWE fires talent. He broke down "the wall" by discussing backstage politics in front of a live audience. Much to Cena's credit, he never broke character. Oh yeah, the "horrible physical calamity" that Punk said happens at every contract signing took place yet again.
4. Crashing Comic Con
CM Punk played it straight for so long that when he left, fans truly wondered if he'd ever return. Via Twitter, he carried the story along by uploading photos of the WWE title in his fridge and out and about at baseball games. Few, if anyone, knew what was real versus fake. So when CM Punk appeared at a WWE Panel during Comic-Con in San Diego, gasoline was dumped on the fire and caused multiple nerdgasms.
3. Epic Entrance At "Money In The Bank"
This was the mother of all WWE entrances. Despite being the "heel," CM Punk came into "Money In The Bank" as the huge fan favorite. The match took place in his backyard of Chicago, but the reaction he received went beyond hometown hero. And boy, did CM Punk milk the hell out of it.
2. Epic "Shoot" Promo That Started It All
Nobody saw this coming. During what appeared to be a routine episode of WWE "Raw," CM Punk closed the show wearing a Stone Cold Steve Austin T-shirt to signal a changing of the guard. Still a heel, Punk started this "shoot" promo with a relatively tame "I'm better than you" speech. But that disintegrated into him breaking the fourth wall. Backstage politics were aired that true fans had speculated, but never thought Superstars would confirm. He referenced Paul Heyman, said The Rock's real name and completely shredded the McMahon family. It blew the lid off WWE and even had ESPN asking, "Is this real?"
1. Winning WWE Title At "MITB"
With CM Punk's contract expiring, nobody expected him to defeat John Cena and leave with the WWE championship around his waist. But there was something in hishometown Chicago air that night. The WWE championship match didn't just have 9-year-old's screaming at their TVs. Grown-ass men were yelling too. It's the first time you truly had no idea how this was going to play out.
Honorary Mention: Playing Clue With Triple H And Kevin Nash
The lingering conspiracy regarding who told Kevin Nash to take out CM Punk continued as Triple H and Kevin Nash engaged in a bit of back and forth. So CM Punk crashes the party, references the board game Clue, calls Stephanie McMahon a bean-head and berates Triple H once again to the point where Nash strikes him.
+ Check out all of our Best of 2011 coverage