CM Punk returned to the world of pro wrestling after seven years on AEW Rampage. Recently, I had a friend ask me to give them some CM Punk matches to watch, as they had never seen him wrestle before. I gave them some matches before realizing that there may be more people in my friend’s position. Punk became a star in WWE in that post-Attitude Era, where a ton of people checked out of wrestling and left WWE in 2014, which may as well be another lifetime ago. Seven years is the difference between the Mega Powers exploding and the nWo forming. It’s also the difference between 4.4 million people watching Punk’s last appearance on Monday Night Raw and 1.8 million people watching Raw last week. There is a good chance that to some people, the name CM Punk is just that: a name.

So I’ve taken the liberty of putting together a playlist of CM Punk matches that not only highlight him but highlight his journey in WWE and how he became such a big deal. All of these matches are available to watch on Peacock, with helpful tags so you can find the shows easier on Peacock’s…developing interface. I’ve broken down Punk’s career into five categories so you can see the scope of Punk’s abilities, and what made him such a star in his first go-around.

CM Punk debuted for WWE in August 2006 on ECW. He came in as a babyface by touting his straight-edge lifestyle, saying that his addiction was wrestling. He would get over with both his talent and his look, which stood out among the oiled-up, clean-cut bodybuilders that loaded WWE locker rooms at that time. This first set of matches showcases the best of him as a good ol’ white-meat babyface making his way in the WWE.

White Meat Babyface Run

  • Team DX (DX, Hardys, Punk) vs. Team Rated RKO (Rated RKO, Nitro, Helms, Knox) – Survivor Series 2006 (Season 20)
  • Punk vs. John Morrison – Last Chance Match for the ECW Championship – ECW #65 – September 1, 2007 (S2 E13)
  • Punk vs. Edge – SmackDown #453 – April 22, 2008 (S10 E17)

Over the course of Punk would win Money in the Bank twice, the second time cashing in on Jeff Hardy at Extreme Rules 2009. In the course of Hardy chasing the title, Punk would get harsh about Jeff Hardy’s drug problems. He would begin touting his straight-edge lifestyle, no alcohol, no drugs, and how that made him better than everyone. This heel run saw Punk become a cult leader, first leading the Straight Edge Society before taking charge of the Nexus. This list sees the best of his run as the Straight Edge Heel.

Straight Edge Heel

  • Punk vs. John Morrison – SmackDown #514 – June 26, 2009 (S11 E26)
  • Punk vs. Jeff Hardy – Tables, Ladders, and Chairs for the World Heavyweight Title – Summerslam 2009 (Season 22)
  • Punk enters the Royal Rumble #1 – Royal Rumble 2010 (Season 23)
  • Punk vs. Mysterio – Over The Limit 2010 (Season 1)
  • Punk vs. Mysterio – Capitol Punishment 2011 (Season 1)

In a promo before his match at Capitol Punishment, Punk promised that he would do the most honest thing the WWE had ever seen. And eight days later, in the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Punk delivered on that promise.

That promo, soon to be dubbed “The Pipebomb”, lit the wrestling world on fire. It sent CM Punk into another stratosphere of stardom and made him one of the biggest stars in the company. After jobbing at 4 straight PPVs, mostly to get a Triple H vs Kevin Nash feud to get over, he finally won the WWE Championship at Survivor Series. That kicked off a historic WWE title run that saw him hold the title for 14 months. This set of matches are the best of that run.

Main Event Babyface

  • Punk vs. Alberto Del Rio – Survivor Series 2011 (Season 25)
  • Punk vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. The Miz – TLC 2011 (Season 3)
  • Punk vs. Chris Jericho – WrestleMania 28 (Season 28)
  • Punk vs. Mark Henry – Monday Night Raw #986 (S20, E16)
  • Punk vs. Chris Jericho – Extreme Rules 2012 (Season 4)
  • Punk vs. Daniel Bryan – Over The Limit 2012 (Season 3)

As heard in the Pipebomb promo, CM Punk was miffed at the fact that The Rock was guaranteed to main event WrestleMania in 2012. It soon became clear that, despite Punk’s acclaimed title run, that The Rock would main event WrestleMania again in 2013 against John Cena. Despite Punk being on an incredible run as a heel world champion with several options to defend against, the decision was made to forge on with Rock vs. Cena II as the main event of WrestleMania 29. This kicked off what I’m calling the “Fueled By Spite” run, where Punk would be at his absolute best, being solely fueled by the anger he felt at having his Mania main event sniped from him again. He’ll ether The Rock on the mic, why? Because he could. He’ll drag the Undertaker’s carcass to his last great WrestleMania match, why? Because he could. He’ll tear the house down at Summerslam with Brock Lesnar, why? Because he could. This set of matches is CM Punk at his zenith, where the man could do no wrong.

Fueled by Spite Run

  • Punk vs. The Rock – Royal Rumble 2013 (Season 26)
  • Punk vs. The Undertaker – WrestleMania 29 (Season 29)
  • Punk vs. Brock Lesnar – SummerSlam 2013 (Season 26)

Finally, we come to the matches that Punk is best known for. The matches that the Pipebomb promo built towards. Arguably the best matches of his career. John Cena was CM Punk’s best opponent. He was Superman to Punk’s Batman. He was the company man against Punk, who raged against the machine. Cena was the perfect counterpart to Punk outside of the ring, and luckily, he was his best opponent in the ring as well. These aren’t only some of Punk’s best matches. They aren’t only some of the best matches of John Cena’s career. They are some of the best matches in WWE history, with a final match (to date) that may be the best wrestling match to ever air on free American television. Here are all of the big matches these two had against each other in their careers.

Punk vs. Cena

  • Punk vs. Cena – Monday Night Raw #889 (S18, E23)
  • Punk vs. Cena – Money In The Bank 2011 (Season 2)
  • Punk vs. Cena – SummerSlam 2011 (Season 24)
  • Punk vs. Cena – Raw 1000 (S20, E30)
  • Punk vs. Cena – Night of Champions 2012 (Season 5)
  • Punk vs. Cena – Monday Night Raw #1031 (Season 21, Episode 8) (the one where Triple H fights Brock Lesnar with a big piss stain in his pants)

CM Punk made memories that will last a lifetime in his 8 years in WWE. He’s already made one in AEW with his debut on Rampage. And with the talent AEW is bursting at the seams with, he’s got every opportunity to make a lot more of them.