by Jon Milne
Catch up on part I right here!
Our story continues after the events of Night of Champions. The Undisputed WWE World Heavyweight Title remains in the clutches of the villainous group Charisma, albeit with Christian having regained the title after Cody Rhodes and Wade Barrett screwed John Cena out of what would surely have been his victory. Not everything is so rosey for the group, however, as the former Interim WWE Champion, Rey Mysterio, has moved into contention for the championship, thwarting the efforts of Rhodes and Barrett…
The Road To Hell In A Cell
On the next night on RAW, despite the tensions that seemingly existed at the conclusion of the main event of Night of Champions, Christian and Alberto Del Rio at least are all smiles as they and the other members of Charisma stand in the ring.
“What, did you think we would be at each other’s throats?” Del Rio condescendingly asks the crowd; “Listen, each and everyone of those knows what the score is. We all want a shot at that championship Christian’s holding. We’re not like Evolution, or the Four Horsemen, or the New World Order, or any of those other groups that purely existed to keep a single guy on top.”
Christian pipes up: “We all know the score. We’re united simply in ridding the title scene of unworthy pretenders to the throne. Us guys? We’re the only ones worthy of getting the main event spot! Now Cody and Wade got screwed last night, but no matter! Because I’m granting Alberto his rematch at Hell in a Cell, and Rey Mysterio doesn’t stand a ghost of a chance of taking-“
They are interrupted by Triple H: “Yeesh, guys, I’m getting bored to tears here with you going on and on. I’m stopping you right now before we get the latest long winded spiel, because frankly? After last night I think everyone is sick of Charisma trying to play numbers games in order to desperately keep some laughable excuse for power. So here’s what’s actually happening. Rey Mysterio and Alberto Del Rio? They face each other, tonight, in a Steel Cage match! That should be good practice for the Cell for whoever wins, as they and they alone will face Christian for the Undisputed WWE World Heavyweight Championship in Hell in a Cell! Oh and if any of you boys try to interfere? Well both the World Title and Intercontinental Title will suddenly find themselves vacated. One and only warning!”
The other mystery centres around who was actually responsible for the interruption through the “Voices” theme music that allowed Rey Mysterio a shot in the match to come. A smug John Cena comes to the ring and admits that he was responsible for disrupting the match, since he felt that if he could win the main event, he’d love to face Rey so that they could properly finish what they started back in July at the conclusion of the tournament. At the very least though, he expresses gladness that Rhodes and Barrett won’t be in the main event even if he isn’t either. The next few weeks are categorised by fights between the threesome, until Rhodes and Barrett challenge Cena to a match inside the Cell and to choose whatever partner he wants. Cena promises that their high confidence will evaporate when he and his partner step in the ring with them…
Despite the absence of Charisma to back him up, Del Rio still dominates his match with Rey, as Rey is still nursing his prior wounds from being in the ring with two Charisma members the night before. However, a missed top rope dive from Del Rio gives Rey the opening he needs, as he’s able to hit Del Rio with a 619 and then hit a seated senton for the victory, securing his match with Christian. When Del Rio attempts to attack Rey after the match, he’s saved by the emergence of Daniel Bryan, who throws Del Rio out of the ring. As Del Rio scarpers up the ramp, Bryan quickly grabs a microphone.
“Hey Alberto! Things sure suck for you at the moment don’t they? You can’t keep your championship, you can’t get your rematch. Seems to me you’re stuck in a dead end, right? Well, what if I told you I had the answer to your prayers?”
Del Rio stops running, intrigued but obviously wary: “If it’s what I’m thinking you’re offering, campesino…”
“It’s exactly what you think Pretencioso,” Bryan retorts with a smile, “It strikes me that you had a hell of a lot less problems when you held a briefcase like this. And that success was only possible for you when you held a briefcase like this. And what should you find now? A guy who is offering you an amazing opportunity to reclaim a briefcase, like, this! What say you, hombre?”
Del Rio laughs: “You are a bigger idiota than I thought. Your precious Code may keep you safe from my friends, but it won’t protect you from my wrath. You’re going down parásito!“
There is one more announcement Triple H has to make about title matches at Hell in a Cell. In light of his well received effort in the Code of Honor match, Zack Ryder is announced as the new No. 1 contender for Dolph Ziggler’s United States Championship. For Ryder, this truly means something special:
“Really, I owe a lot to my man D-Bry – his recognition of genius in the longest reigning Internet Champion has given me a brilliant opportunity! I know I like to joke around a lot, but this does really touch me in my heart, because now I have a real chance to prove the brass in the offices wrong. Those guys who saw exactly how popular my hit show Long Island Iced Z was and is, and still wanted to deny me a place on the card. But now, I can really make a mark here, and at Hell in a Cell, I’m going to be the Broski with the United States Championship to his name! Woo, woo, woo, you know it!”
Hell in a Cell 2011 (New Orleans, Louisiana)
The internet rejoices, as after a highly competitive match initially dominated by the champ, who refuses to take Ryder seriously, Ryder is able to switch things around and bring Ziggler down with a surprisingly excellent ground game, as well as the power moves that earned him acclaim from his prior match with Daniel Bryan. The match finishes with a Zack Attack and Rough Ryder, scoring the 3-count and creating epic noise in the arena as Zack Ryder becomes the new United States Champion!
The first of the Hell in a Cell matches comes soon afterwards, with Rhodes and Barrett making their way to the ring first. John Cena makes his entrance going up as far as the Cell door, before, for real this time, Randy Orton’s music blares through the arena and the man himself steps out onto the stage, leaving the Charisma members in shock. Cena and Orton are able to dominate the early goings of the match, with Orton seemingly having barely lost a step after the head injury that put him out of action since Summerslam. However, Rhodes and Barrett are able to level things up, largely with concentrated offence to Orton’s head, as well as full utilisation of weapons and the Cell itself. But Cena and Orton still prove an incredible burden to overcome. And in the end, the sheer quality of team-work allows for Cena and Orton to hit Rhodes with an Attitude Adjustment into an RKO on the steel steps for the victory.
The Code of Honor match is up next, and Alberto Del Rio barely acquiesces to the pre-match handshake by flat out slapping his opponent’s hand away. The match’s format appears to put Del Rio at a great disadvantage, with him being unable to rely on his fellow Charisma members (though with Rhodes and Barrett out of commission after the beating they suffered earlier, and Christian busy preparing for his match, he probably couldn’t anyway) and not being allowed to rely on the dirty tricks he’s used in his previous PPV matches. Despite this, Del Rio at least proves that one does not become a MITB holder or WWE Champion victory by being completely useless, as he proves an equal to Daniel Bryan in a truly physical match dominated by some very hard kicks and knees delivered to one another as well as plenty submission holds. In the end, however, while Del Rio proves to last longer than the others, he eventually falls at 17 minutes after Bryan debuts the Kobayashi knee as his finisher.
The final match inside the Cell sees Christian defend his title against Mysterio. Despite the lack of Charisma members, Christian’s sheer determination to hold onto his title makes things very difficult for Rey to overcome. But Rey’s faster pace and willingness to perform more dangerous stunts allows him the upper hand, culminating in a big dive into Christian that takes them through the Cell wall. With the action now on the outside, and Christian very obviously shaken up by what’s happened to him, Rey is able to take control. But the difference comes when Rey decides to take one risk too many, and an attempted leg drop from the top of the Cell sees Christian move from the announce table, leaving Rey to go through it by himself. With Rey pretty much completely out of commission, he is easy prey for Christian to drag into the ring and end proceedings with a KillSwitch and the pin. The World Title still resides in Charisma’s grasp, but as the show draws to a close, Randy Orton comes out on the top of the ramp, with the champ and the man he put out of action staring daggers at one another…
The Road To Vengeance
One of the very first matches announced for Vengeance is a Last Man Standing match between the World Champion Christian and Randy Orton. In addition to this, Triple H appoints himself the Special Referee for this match, since he is certain that members of Charisma may try to interfere. Knowing however that he is but only one man, the COO also enlists the help of two other “big buddies of mine” to act as outside special enforcers for the match, as it is announced that Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash will be there as a further preventative measure.
Christian is dismissive of the threat posed to his reign: “I’ve defeated Orton how many times now? I proved back at Money In The Bank he had no business being anywhere near the World Title scene, and then at Summerslam I put the guy out. Now he’s stupid enough to come back, and challenge me again? For me, it don’t matter he’s got his buddy Triple H as the special referee. And it don’t matter that our totally not corrupt COO wants to make stupid assumptions about me needing any help to defeat Randy. At the end of the day? I’m keeping hold of this. At Vengeance, Orton’s going to lose to me yet again, and that is reality!”
For Orton, things are incredibly personal: “The last few months have been an unbelievable hell. Both Christian and I know just how screwy the events of Money In The Bank were, and then when he was too cowardly to be a man and face me, he and his group with stupid grudges against me put me out with my own move. But at Hell in a Cell, I proved that I’m still as dangerous as ever. And now that Christian’s in my sights, I’m not letting this opportunity to cripple him go to waste. At Vengeance, I’m taking back what’s mine, and it’s Christian who’s going to end up on the shelf.
It wasn’t a good night for other members of Charisma. Cody Rhodes took the pin in the first Cell match of the night, and he is due even worse news from the COO:
“Oh, hey Cody! I almost didn’t notice you there, what with you being one of the bigger failures in your group. But I’ve been having one of those moments of deep thought, and you know what I realised? It’s been a while since you actually defended your belt at one of our monthly big events! Now, I was just content to have you merely fight for your belt at Vengeance, but I got approached by a guy backstage, and he gave me a solution that I think actually pleases all of us, even you! Oh yeah, because I know that you’ll spend the rest of the month regardless bitching about how you’re being denied a World Title shot, so I’m allowing you the closest thing to it! At Vengeance, in the same match, the Intercontinental Title will be on the line, and the Money In The Bank contract will be on the line! Cody Rhodes? Meet your challenger, in a Code of Honor match, Daniel Bryan!”
The pressure for both men, in the lead up to the match, is immense. Rhodes knows that he has to keep hold of his belt to maintain his worth within Charisma, and is desperate to win the briefcase in order give him the chance of a World Title shot that has eluded him after the early promises he received when joining the villainous group at Summerslam. For Bryan, there’s the ever-continuing pressure to keep hold of the object that truly symbolises just how far he’s come since being treated as a joke in NXT and getting fired a year ago, as well as the opportunity to join a special club of wrestlers to have held both United States and Intercontinental gold.
The bright spot for Charisma is that, despite their losses, Del Rio (who Triple H grudgingly admits performed admirably in his match with Daniel Bryan at Hell in a Cell) and Barrett (who wasn’t pinned in his match) are put in contention for a No 1 contender’s match at Vengeance. The bad news is that the match also contains John Cena (victorious in his Cell match) and Rey Mysterio (who is commended by the COO for the sheer effort he exhibited in his championship match with Christian) in a Fatal 4way, with the winner going on to challenge for the title at Survivor Series. For both Del Rio and Barrett, it is a chance to greatly increase their stock in Charisma after the past few months of setbacks. For Cena and Mysterio, it is a chance for redemption after the ways in which their reigns as champion have ended in the prior months.
Dolph Ziggler lambasts Zack Ryder’s US Title victory as a “fluke”, and is determined to prove that Ryder is nothing more than a passing “internet fad” when he takes the title back off him. For Ryder, the stakes appear to be higher:
“You’d better believe that the Internet Sensation is hyped up for this match! I know what’s at stake here. Ziggler’s the pretty boy. He’s all blonde and toned, he’s exactly the kind of model wrestler the management wants on their programme. But me? I’m too silly. I’m someone they’re convinced is just a temporary “thing” on the internet, and that just like Keyboard Cat or Badger Badger Badger, my hype will die down. They don’t want me on television. But I’m here to say that I am the King Broski of Hype! I am the Champion of the United States, and at Vengeance, woo, woo, woo, you know I’m going to keep hold of this!”
Throughout all this, numerous pictures and videos surface of CM Punk and his WWE Championship belt online. He is shown at hockey games, at the World Series, at movie premieres, on talk shows, at fan conventions for wrestlers and comic books, actually putting the belt on the line at wrestling events like EVOLVE and Dragon Gate USA in 10-12 minute long matches, and most importantly, using the belt in numerous ways in relation to diet soda. When quizzed about the current state of the WWE, Punk is incredibly coy about the nature of returning, and continues to point out that no matter how much the World Title currently in there is jazzed up, it will still never hold the appeal and importance to fans that his belt does.
Vengeance 2011 (San Antonio, Texas)
The internet is kept well and truly happy, as Ryder more than holds his own against Ziggler, displaying some real technical nuance that helps to guide him to a comfortable and successful defence of his United States Championship. Dolph Ziggler shakes Ryder’s hand and then hugs him at the conclusion of the bout, before leaving the ring to let Ryder soak in the adulation from the crowd. In a later backstage interview, Ziggler announces that he’s taking time off until the Royal Rumble, citing some nagging injuries as well as needing to get his head together.
Cody Rhodes becomes the first person to refuse to shake Bryan’s hand, instead spitting on it. The match between Rhodes and Bryan itself is incredibly fast paced. With Rhodes in danger of yet another loss to his recent PPV streak and potentially losing an item that could cost him influence in Charisma, Rhodes fights as though it is his last day on earth, an approach that Bryan is all too happy to reciprocate considering his potential opportunity to hold two singles title at once very soon. Despite everything Rhodes does, Bryan is able to kick out, including numerous Cross Rhodes attempts, as well as his head being subject to a vicious neckbreaker on the outside part of one of the ring turnbuckles. With 1 minute remaining out of the 20, there is still not a winner of the match. The end comes just as Bryan finally manages to catch Rhodes in the LaBell Lock of the centre of the ring, only for Rhodes to summon all his strength to roll Bryan over onto his shoulders. At the same time as when the referee’s hand hits three, Rhodes’s hand can be seen to be tapping, leading to the officials to the bout being in dispute about who actually won, resulting in a split decision. The announcers argue over analysis of the instant replays, as it seems impossible to determine whether the pinfall or submission was successful first, guaranteeing future matches between the pair.
The Fatal 4Way match for No. 1 contendership is up next, and it instantly resembles a tornado tag match as Cena and Mysterio team up against the Charisma members. The match increasing follows the pattern of one “team” managing to temporarily incapacitate the other “team”, before focusing on one another and getting a near fall or submission before the other “team” breaks it up and then proceeds to take control of things. The end comes when Randy Orton invades the ring and hits both Del Rio and Barrett with RKOs, with both men ending up hanging on the ends of the ropes. Much like at Night of Champions, Rey hits both men with a 619, but is caught by Cena as he tries to finish them off, leading to an Attitude Adjustment and a pinfall, sending Cena to the Undisputed World Title match at Survivor Series.
Orton stays in the ring for the main event, as three of the former Cliq members make their way out, with Michaels and Nash making sure that Barrett and Rhodes are clear of the ring before the champion is makes his entrance. With the high level of bad blood between the two dating all the way back since after Extreme Rules, the match gets very violent very quickly. Finishing moves are performed on the steel steps, on the announce table, and on ladders (including an RKO that breaks the ladder in half). Steel chairs, kendo sticks, barbed wire baseball bats, and tasers are all used, but none draw the full 10 count. In the end, Christian is able to hit Orton with a Killswitch in the ring, and with the feeling that Orton will just get up again, picks him up and hits him another Killswitch. Christian does this another two times before he is pulled off by Triple H, who furiously tells him that Orton is “done” and to just let the 10 count happen. Christian shoots a very dirty look at the COO, sarcastically bows to the “dear leader”, and waits as Hunter finally makes the count, making Christian officially still the Undisputed WWE World Heavyweight Champion. But as Christian celebrates, he is hit with a Sweet Chin Music out of nowhere by Shawn Michaels, to which Triple H can only give an exasperated, though still friendly “Really?” remark to his best friend.
But just as Christian’s night couldn’t be any more ruined, the music of “Ride of the Valkyries” blares out over the arena, as the MITB holder Daniel Bryan rushes down to the ring with his briefcase, to the very loud and joyous approval of the fans. Triple H is all too happy to pass the briefcase to the timekeeper and signal the start of the match. Bryan instantly applies the LaBell Lock on Christian, and with the amount of pain suffered during his Last Man Standing match, it’s not long before the soon former champ taps out, leading to the announcement of the new Undisputed WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan! He has given a great big hug from his mentor Shawn Michaels as he celebrates, as Triple H smiles and claps for the new title holder, while Nash just crosses his arms and looks unenthused by the development, not that most fans care what he thinks.
There is one more twist to close out Vengeance. The “Cult of Personality” theme suddenly interrupts, and what celebratory noise there was from Bryan’s victory becomes even louder when the man who steps out onto the stage is revealed: CM Punk, finally returned to the company from his exile with his championship in tow. In the ring, all except Bryan have seen the smiles wiped off their faces, and Nash makes the effort of continually giving Punk very dirty looks as he passes him and enters into the ring. The first thing Punk does is to hug his old indie rival in congratulations, before pulling away to lift his own World Title belt in the air. The broadcast closes, as the two iconic legends of ROH stare each other down with their title belts raised, with a truly titanic confrontation in WWE very much promised…
The Road To Survivor Series
In something of a surprise, the opening of the next night’s RAW opens, not with the returning WWE Champion (although the announcers promise his arrival later on in the show) but with a jubilant Zack Ryder, fresh off of retaining his title.
“Woo, woo, woo, you know it! This is amazing! Having this as well as the Internet championship makes me hold 2 singles titles! And I owe it to you guys. You made your voices, and you got them to listen, and now-“
But Ryder is cut off as he is suddenly attacked by all four members of Charisma armed with steel chairs. A collective powerbomb through the Spanish announce table later, and an enraged Christian has a mic in his hand.
“We are the dominant faction in this company. We are the ones that deserve the management actually listening to us. We deserve respect! Yet what happens last night? Our biased COO arranges things so that I get screwed out of my title, and it’s treated as a somehow good thing that this new pretender to the throne, Daniel Bryan, took me on while I was weakened! And Triple H’s friends didn’t do a damn thing to stop it! His best buddy actually kicks my head off under Hunter’s orders, and then hugs the guy who’s his protégée! Oh and of course, I’m probably shunted to the back of the line now, and why? Because a guy who left this company high and dry without a second World Champion has finally decided to return so that this company gets treated to a pitiful excuse for a World Title match between two bingo hall darlings!”
Cody Rhodes is next up: “I may have kept my Intercontinental Title, but I should also have a certain briefcase in my hands right now! Split decision my ass, I won that match. I played by the stupid rules, and I rightfully won that briefcase, and I don’t care what the replays say. That championship Bryan holds? If Christian isn’t holding it, then I should be holding it. I’m owed a championship match, and I want it tonight!”
Wade Barrett raises his own mic: “And then we get the crap in our match where we chased the title shots me and Del Rio deserve! But while our faction gets threatened with consequences if any of us try to ensure the title scene turns out the right way, no such consequences for Hunter’s old running buddy Randy Orton! He shouldn’t have even been allowed to compete for the title after what he did! And Cena shouldn’t have been granted victory! Our match should have been restarted! Well at Survivor Series, justice will happen, and the World Title will have Charisma-“
“Absolutely nowhere near it.” the voice of Triple H emanates from the TitanTron, as the image flashes to him sitting in his office backstage. The results of last night made things pretty clear: No Charisma in the World Title match!” The crowd roars it’s approval at this news about the hated group, “Daniel Bryan is obviously there, John Cena is there, and CM Punk… well we’re sorting that out later tonight when he appears. But it will be a damn relief I’ll say to not have to put up with you guys in that match. Still, I’m mindful of the fact that you guys may try and disrupt the match, so I’m posting Shawn and Kevin ringside again, though Shawn’s gotten a telling off from me about last night, and he pinky swears he won’t do it again in the future… probably.”
Cody is livid: “But what about my-“
“Yeah, sorry, I have difficulty mustering any sympathy for someone who only barely followed the Code of Honor rules last night, and whose group has been a horrible nuisance to a whole bunch of people,” Triple H retorts, “Considering you guys just made an unprovoked assault on the reigning United States Champion, I’m even less inclined to do you any favours. As far as I’m concerned Cody, you did enough to keep your belt, but not enough to earn a World Title shot. So your request? Denied!”
Christian is furious, “So I’m denied my automatic rematch and have to drop down the card-“
“Ah, but I’m not finished!” Hunter says with a smile. “See, I’m giving you something better, guys! The way I see it, you guys really want to end Randy Orton, and you also want a main event calibre match, well at Survivor Series, Team Charisma will face off against Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, Zack Ryder (now that you’ve attacked him) and a very special return of this man!”
At this point, the arena explodes with noise as the music of the Rock plays, and out comes The Great One himself at the top of the ramp as a shell-shocked Charisma look on.
“Finally, the Rock has come back to the WWE! Survivor Series, Charisma, or Lack Thereof! The Rock, he’s gonna team with a Viper, the 619, the Internet and US Champion Broski, and he’ll take his hand, and lay out all your candy asses! If you smeeelllllllll! What the Rock is cooking!”
The build-up to the Survivor Series format match is of course heightened by the news of the People’s Champion’s return, but other factors are at play. Despite their respective failures in the past few months, Charisma nonetheless are very much together as a team unit, and to them they see the match as a very real opportunity to rid themselves of their greatest obstacles on the path to World Title glory. For the face team, things are considerably more complicated. The Rock makes no appearances in between the announcement of his involvement on Team Orton through to Survivor Series, making it very hard for the team to gel. Furthermore, while both Ryder and Mysterio appear to be level-headed in their promos leading up to the event, there is very real concern about Orton. With his pride massively hurt from the nature of his loss at Vengeance, he appears to have a real bloodlust for taking out the group that has ruined his life over the past few months. Can Orton be calmed down so that he doesn’t cost his team the match?
The build up to the Daniel Bryan/John Cena match is one of a feeling of great disrespect that Bryan feels from Cena:
“John, I’ve seen the way you’ve been backstage. Ever since Rock came back, you’ve started thinking ahead to Wrestlemania. And since Punk came back, I’ve seen you brooding about Money In The Bank. Now does it affect me that those two are back? Of course! But I’ve worked far too hard to earn my way to holding this World Championship for you to not give it your A Game when we meet at Survivor Series. I want to beat you at your best, and I’d have thought that maybe you might have now learned some valuable lessons from what happened in this year’s Wrestlemania, where you spending all your time thinking about The Rock stopped you from winning the WWE Championship. So I want your word, John, that you’re actually capable of respecting me, and the match we’ll have in New York City, so that when I beat you, I at least know that you put some real actual effort in even when you lost?”
“Daniel, you really don’t have to worry,” Cena attempts to reassure an increasingly unconvinced Bryan, “I know what this match represents. You’re right, I have been maybe a little lost in thought about Punk and Rock, but only because I want to take back a title I miss so much and start my ninth reign, and then get the privilege of defending it at Wrestlemania against one of the greatest wrestlers in WWE history. But right now, you’re wrong to assume I’m not focused on Survivor Series, because I am, Daniel. I am. I want my ninth run with the belt. I want to officially be THE guy of the company again. I want the gold, and at Survivor Series, I’ll happily follow your rules, and beat you at your own game!”
The big news for Survivor Series is yet to come, however, as CM Punk makes his official return to a WWE ring, soaking in the applause and the joyous “Welcome back!” chants of the crowd.
“I gotta say, it’s awesome to be back! You know, I kept getting asked, ‘Hey Punk, when are you coming back?’ But the thing is, it’s amazing the kind of stuff you realise you miss when you’re no longer on the road all the time. So much live sports I never got to witness. Getting to go to Comic-Con and other cool places, wrestling in places that actually treated me well, drinking lots of diet soda… well actually I did that one all the time anyway while I was here. But the point is, for the first time in a long while, I felt relaxed, and really able to enjoy life, and not having to put up with politics in my job. So I didn’t feel the desire to return, especially not while some of the most boring, samey people existed in the title scene!” The crowd, despite being sympathetic to some of the faces in the title scene, largely cheers this.
“Del Rio? I made him look an idiot before I left. Mysterio? Look, I’m still bitter he made me lose my hair, but I’ve gotten better at being the Best In The World at what I do and he’s declined since we last met. Barrett? His own group got sick of him and made me their leader instead! Rhodes? Still just a lackey. Christian? Okay, he’s actually made things more interesting around here, but even having a fancy unification match like he did at Summerslam did nothing to make his belt have anything like the value that my belt holds! And then we get to the same old backstage favourites getting pushed despite you guys clearly being bored of them! Orton only remains relevant now because there’s yet another villainous group around and they want him buried, and then there’s Cena, who are new Leader-Upon-High decides to show special treatment to even though John knew exactly what he was doing when he put his career on the line!”
“So what made me come back? Well, there’s a few things. I rejected this company’s offer of movie roles, though if they ever offer me the role of Casey Jones in a Ninja Turtles movie then I am so down!” He pauses to soak in the chants of “Casey Jones!” and “Ninja Turtles!” from the crowd before continuing, “But I came back because finally the title scene gave us a new face, someone with real actual ‘charisma’ and who the fans clearly want to see. I’ve got a huge, historic rivalry with the guy, and as the Voice of the Voiceless, I know that you guys want to see what would be one of the greatest matches of all time. So at Madison Square Garden, you’ll see me defending this against Daniel Bryan and unifying-“
The music of Triple H cuts him off, as the COO walks into the ring and offers Punk his hand, only for Punk to regard it with disdain. Triple H shrugs, and then raises his mic: “Well, first off, welcome back Punk, good to have this reunion. But second off, I already told Charisma this, but no-one gets to just decide they’re entitled to just strut into the ring and get a title shot!” Despite Triple H being generally liked, boos accompany this statement, “Considering the amount of trouble you caused this company after you left in a gutless way, the mess you made-”
“Oh hold on!” Punk rolls his eyes as the crowd cheer, “I’m gutless? Me? Who is it who fires people around here? And often not even to their face? Guys like Kozlov and Masters who were working their asses off to get better? I didn’t create any mess, Hunter, you did when you allowed a pointless tournament to continue for a championship belt that was never the true one, and then just allowed a guy to waltz into a title match against the guy who won the tournament. I don’t like Charisma either, but I sure as hell understand why they got as fed up with the favouritism and backstage politics as I did! You marketed yourself as an improvement over your step-dad, yet you may actually even be worse!”
Hunter shrugs, “Okay, fair enough, if that’s what you believe, but my point stands. You’ve been away a long time, Punk, without properly defending that belt, beyond some appearances in high school gyms. By all rights I should strip you of it since you’ve been gone longer than 30 days, and then fire you. Or I would, if it wasn’t for the fact it’s clearly not best for business. You say we don’t listen to the fans? Well we can tell they love you,” the fans very loudly agree with this, “and we’re acting on it. So you don’t get a title shot, Punk. But you do get a chance to demonstrate you haven’t lost a step and actually earn a title shot now that you’re back. The fans want you in the main event, and you’re getting it, but you’re not facing Bryan and Cena, Punk. You win your match at Survivor Series, Punk, and I promise you’ll get your title unification match. But at Survivor Series, your opponent? It’s me!”
Punk laughs, “You know, I think that’s actually a better deal than what I originally intended to get. You’re on, Hunter! Because the other reason I came back is that someone who the fans actually like needs to call you out on how you run the place. How yes-man like Laurinaitis are still employed backstage. About how you bore the fans. About how you don’t give them what they truly want. I’ll be happy to prove you wrong. I’ll be happy to prove I’m still the Best In The World. I’ll be happy to kick your ass!”
Survivor Series 2011 (Madison Square Garden, New York City)
The first of three titanic main events comes in the form of the Undisputed WWE World Heavyweight Championship match. Before the match can begin, the announcement is made that what with the Code of Honor match including the top belt of the company, the time limit has been extended to 30 minutes. In addition, Bryan initially finds his path blocked by one of the outside special enforcers for the match, Kevin Nash, who regards Bryan with something of a sneer, before Shawn Michaels pulls him away. Cena meanwhile stares down Shawn Michaels when he gets into the ring, with some evident uncertainty about the nature of having Bryan’s former mentor at ringside. The two have no problems shaking hands before the match. With Daniel Bryan being markedly different from past opponents and being a fresher face in the title scene, Cena initially underestimates the champion, culminating in some very close shaves within the first five minutes when Bryan almost connects with the Kobayashi Knee, and then has Cena locked in tight in the LaBell lock for a good minute before Cena is able to reach the ropes. From this point, Cena adapts a more cautious approach, appearing to use his experience to wait for Bryan to make mistakes. Sure enough, Cena is able to capitalise on a missed move to hit Bryan with a debuted springboard stunner from the ropes for a 2 count. But to Cena’s evident frustration, no matter he does, Bryan survives. Both Attitude Adjustments see Bryan kick out at the very last moment before 3. An STF sees Bryan suffer for a whole 2 minutes before he is able to power out and get Cena on his back for a pinfall attempt that Cena barely escapes. At 20 minutes, Cena’s tactics get even more desperate, as he performs some high risk manoeuvres with the knowledge that if he can’t beat Bryan in the time allotted, Bryan will keep his championship.
The end comes when Cena goes for a third Attitude Adjustment, Bryan instead lands on his feet, and then is able to run up from the opposite corner with the last of his energy to hit Cena with the Kobayashi Knee for the 3 count at 26 minutes. The audience applauds Bryan as he is helped to the back by the referees, while Cena’s subsequent exit sees him exhibit very notable signs of irritation as he refuses the post-match handshake and heads to the back with a face like thunder.
This irritation manifests itself in the second of the massively promoted matches, the Survivor Series match between Team Orton and Team Charisma. The Rock is the very last person from Team Orton to make their entrance, but rather than the glorious sight of the People’s Champion strutting down to the ring, his entrance music is accompanied by nothing other than an empty ramp, before the camera feed switches to the parking lot of the arena, where the Rock is being viciously assaulted with a steel pipe by none other than his future Wrestlemania opponent. With one last quip of “See you in Miami, or maybe not!”, Cena proceeds to then throw his enemy through the Rock’s own car window, before he’s then escorted out of the arena by security, as the announcers wonder just what the hell has made Cena be like this.
This all means that Team Orton starts out with a 3 on 4 disadvantage, but despite this Team Orton initially holds strong, managing to eliminate Cody Rhodes through a combination of all 3 men’s finishers at the 12 minute mark. But Charisma’s key advantage turns out to be not just their own ability to survive, but also the mental instability of the opposing side’s team leader. Orton grows increasingly unstable as RKOs and DDTs from the middle rope continually fail to put away the remaining members of Charisma, and even finishing moves executed by Ryder and Mysterio fail to put them away. Finally, Christian’s taunting of Orton about how far away he is from ever holding a World Title belt again makes Orton snap, to the point where he exits the ring to grab a steel chair. Rey, Ryder and the referee all desperately try to restrain Orton, but this allows Del Rio the opening to hit an unseen low blow on Mysterio while Wade Barrett throws Ryder out of the ring, allowing Del Rio to pin and eliminate Mysterio.
Orton, realising the direness of the situation, drops the chair to the floor. But as Barrett distracts the referee, this allows Christian to lash Orton in the back with a Kendo Stick, and Barrett is then able to hit Orton with a Wasteland to make the advantage 3 vs. 1 in favour of Charisma. But despite having long been considered the joke of the WWE and just apparently an internet fad, Ryder is able to put up a hell of a fight even in the face of his extreme disadvantage, to the point where he manages to hit the Zack Attack on Del Rio to make things 1 vs. 2, and then manages to reverse a Wasteland attempt by Barrett into a roll up to make things all square.
The climax of the match, however sees the fresher-feeling man emerge triumphant. Ryder, exhausted from levelling things, still puts up an incredible fight against the Charisma leader, but in the end Ryder cannot compete with Christian’s power moves, and the previous Undisputed World Champion hits a finishing KillSwitch to emerge as the Sole Survivor. Ryder is given a huge amount of applause as he leaves the ring.
The main event comes, with Triple H getting a very mixed reception on his way to the ring, while CM Punk getting the kind of overwhelmingly positive reception you’d expect for megastar sports players. The match starts with a handshake attempt by the COO, only for Punk to walk backwards and shake his head. From there, the match is every bit as heated and close as you’d expect. Punk initially seems to struggle against Hunter’s experience as the latter very aggressively asserts a dominance in the early minutes. But Punk is able to turn the tide when he hits a GTS, and then a second GTS in quick succession, to which Hunter is only able to kick at the last millisecond. After that point, Punk is able to take control of the match, being able to hit Triple H with a good deal of top rope elbows and DDTs, albeit to no avail, and then emulating the Game’s style with a spine-buster of Punk’s very own.
But before Punk can astonishingly go for a Pedigree, Hunter is able to roll him up, with Punk escaping in the nick of time. Triple H is then able to hit his own Pedigree, but Punk kicks out. He then proceeds to apply Punk’s own Anaconda Vice on his opponent, which Punk struggles in for a good two minutes before managing to finally reach the ropes. A slugging contest briefly happens between the two exhausted competitors, before it is Triple H who manages to knock Punk down. But when Hunter proceeds to go for a second Pedigree, Punk reverses it into a Pedigree of his own, before finally picking his opponent up to hit a third and final GTS to end the match. Survivor Series closes out with the image of Punk and his WWE Title belt, the one seen as the “true” World Title prize of the company, and it is officially the case that Punk is back with a bang and ready to assert a dominance…