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CM Punk Vs. John Cena Headlines WWE Money in the Bank 2011

CM Punk will challenge John Cena for the WWE championship a few hours before his WWE contract expiresThe WWE will headline the 2011 Money in the Bank pay per view with one of its most intriguing storylines of the year. CM Punk will challenge John Cena for the WWE championship a few hours before his WWE contract expires.

This now ends all speculation and confirms all of the stories reported a few weeks back about Punk leaving the WWE. It also supports several stories reported John Cena wanted to do some kind of angle with Punk like he did with Chris Jericho before he left in 2005.

It would appear that this been the plan since last week and Punk’s random win over Cena on WWE All Star Night RAW wasn’t so random after all. Punk claimed he would reveal the “truth” after beating Rey Mysterio at Capitol Punishment 2011. Punk opened up RAW this week with a sit-in (I remember Chief Jay Strongbow do that as a kid) and said he wouldn’t leave until he got a title shot. Instead of a shot, he was awarded a #1 contender’s match with Alberto Del Rio and Rey Mysterio. Punk won, earning the title shot at Money in the Bank.

Punk stuck around and told the fans that he was going to be honest and revealed that July 17 (Money in the Bank 11) is the last day of his current WWE contract. He said his intentions were to beat Cena and take the title with him. It got a great reaction from the crowd with most telling him to go now and some begging him to stay. This will also be the first Punk vs. Cena match on a WWE pay per view.

I don’t know if his contract really expires on July 17 but he is definitely leaving. He could always stick around for another month which happens often when talent are in the midst of angles as their contracts expire in the WWE. It isn’t as if they couldn’t do some kind of swerve here. Actually, it would make for a pretty great angle to see him win and appear on RAW the next night with a ton of demands for a contract extension. The news certainly puts a new spin on the upcoming WWE title match and opens up a few interesting possibilities.

When news broke of Punk leaving the WWE several weeks ago he never once denied it, nor did anyone in the company. According to the rumors, Punk became frustrated that he was stuck in the mid-cards after a few short runs as a top guy. The stories also report that Punk became burnt out with the entire lifestyle and while he is leaving the WWE, it may only wind up being a long sabbatical rather than Punk leaving for good.

If this was 1997, CM Punk would be a few weeks away from making more money than he ever dreamed of as a free agent. Unfortunately even leaving the WWE as a top heel, he won’t be able to cash in on that anywhere but the WWE. There is always TNA Wrestling but he doesn’t appear to be a big fan of TNA according to his tweets. Unfortunately for him or anyone in his position, there isn’t a whole lot of negotiating options these days for superstar pro wrestlers.

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An interesting option would be Ring of Honor. Ring of Honor is now owned by a million-dollar company. Punk certainly has roots in ROH and would be welcomed back by the fan base with big open arms. I don’t care what anyone says, ROH is going to need a familiar face on their show when they land on Sinclair broadcasting’s syndication network. Punk fits the bill. He would have a lighter schedule and would become the top guy instantly and without any pressures. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Punk with a short run in ROH during his sabbatical although Sinclair are notoriously known to be cheap and with a roster full of contracts that would be a fraction of what Punk would want, maybe they pass.

The WWE really dodged a bullet here with Punk on RAW. If Punk were on SmackDown, his exit would be a huge blow to the brand. While his exit will hurt the quality of RAW shows, RAW is a heel-heavy brand with The Miz, R-Truth, and Alberto Del Rio all with more prominent roles than Punk. Although for fans, you won’t be able to count on that solid Punk match anymore regardless of how bad the pay per view is that you just paid $50 to watch.

I will be honest and for a long time I wasn’t a fan of Punk. But, I have come around in recent months and am real impressed with what he has accomplished in the WWE. What is interesting about him is that even through the bad angles and non-pushes, Punk remained a favorite with a core group of fans. Fans saw through the mirage and recognized his talents and his exceptional abilities behind the microphone. The WWE will be losing arguably its most versatile performer in the company.

WWE Money in the Bank 2011 takes place Saturday July 17.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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