July 2023 marked 12 years since the match that defined modern day pro wrestling.
Here we had CM Punk, the hometown anti-WWE character facing off against the corporate golden boy, John Cena, who is ultimately foiled by his own morals. The match at Money In The Bank 2011 served a classic in terms of the storytelling, crowd electricity, sports entertainment aspect and quality of professional wrestling it delivered. A perfect recipe for a classic.
Most readers here will be very familiar with the context of the match and the feud’s place in professional wrestling history. Below, you will see some of the high praise that the match received, in the form of ratings:
9.63 / 834 VOTES
4.83 / 567 VOTES
It was the first match under the WWE umbrella that received a 5 star rating by Dave Meltzer. These days, the star ratings are off the scale (cue meme of Leonardo DiCaprio from Wolf of Wall Street throwing stars) but back in 2011, this was a gargantuan feat within the wrestling circle.
In this article, we will look to dissect and take a deep dive into some of the in-ring statistics on that fateful night in The Windy City, which have previously been collected by Pro Wrestling Musing’s Craig Williams.
CM PUNK VS JOHN CENA - IN-RING STATISTICS OVERVIEW
The key notes to mention here are:
- CM Punk outperformed John Cena in strikes, strikedowns and pin attempts.
- John Cena outdid Punk in the use of submissions and reversals.
- John Cena used more finishes (to no avail), CM Punk used more than double the taunts that Cena did – usurping the Chicago crowd's support and energy throughout to secure the win.
- The battle in offence was won by CM Punk (59%) over John Cena (41%) – which will be broken down further in this article.
MATCH FLOW/FLOW OF OFFENCE
From the two graphs here, the ‘Flow of Offence’ and 'Match Flow' mesh well to present the offensive pace of the match. You can see that after the initial slow start, both men get into the rhythm of offence pretty nicely.
00:00 to 10:00
The benchmark for offence throughout the match is roughly hitting the 10-15 mark and as the ‘Flow of Offence’ graph shows, there is a lot of back and forth between Punk and Cena’s offence in the first 10 minutes of the match. Much of it is down to chain wrestling with breaks that allows the fans to really absorb the magic atmosphere they find themselves in. Cena does start the match better despite the pro-Punk crowd, but Punk finds himself energised enough to take control after 3 minutes.
The submission-based opening transitions into striking soon after, but there is a good mix and match of both styles which leaves both men at an even offence after 10 minutes. Predominantly, the use of clotheslines, headlocks and suplexes score both wrestlers temporary peaks. Punk narrowly edges Cena in this phase of the match with a 12 points peak (6m) to Cena’s 11 points (7m).
10:01 to 20:00
The second phase of the match between 10-20 minutes is where you see disparity in dominance. Punk hits his second highest peak in the entire match at 13 minutes with a nice sequence of a headlock, crossbody from the top rope and a pin attempt. Cena’s scoring is significantly beaten down in this phase of action. At this point, Michael Cole highlights a possible knee problem for Cena. A reversal that turns defence to offence for Cena turns the tide in the match however, with a rarely executed spot in WWE at that time where Cena hits a suplex from the apron to the outside of the ring.
Cena's downfall in this gathered momentum is his attempt at the Five Knuckle Shuffle at around 17 minutes. He gradually rises to his highest peak of the match (11pts) thanks to the build up before it.
20:00 to 33:43
The last phase of the match in its final 10 or so minutes is about as action packed as it can get. For the first time in the match, it is telling that in is in fact Cena’s offence that is distinguishable from Punk’s near the closing play. Cena digs into his arsenal and throws a leg drop from the top rope (27m) and an Attitude Adjustment (30m) for 2 count. But ultimately for the win, Punk scores a standout 24 points in the closing minutes of the match to score the win and the Championship.
Where you can see the cumulative difference in offence, Punk’s upward trajectory in increasing the intensity of his offence is the key catalyst in claiming the win by 33 minutes. It is around here that Punk scores his highest peak in the entire match. He is on the top rope, delivering aggressive striked to wear Cena down for a top rope hurricanrana and followed by a GTS. It is only diminished by Cena instantaneously falling out of the squared circle.
In the closing segment of the match, the shenanigans of a desperate Vince McMahon only dishevels 'good guy' Cena some more, and his outstanding morals even in the most toxic environment to him allows CM Punk to deliver the fatal GTS that secured the hometown win and later that iconic kiss goodbye to McMahon.
Ultimately 12 years on, it is a timeless WWE classic which will be remembered as a match that had all the perfect ingredients for everything we love professional wrestling for. The crowd on that night may have chanted 'you can't wrestle!" at Cena on the night, but there was no signs of a carry-job in this encounter that left jaws reeling on that fateful night in 2011, let alone in 2023 and beyond.