CM Punk had a great career in World Wrestling Entertainment from the time he showed up in ECW in 2006 to when he left following the 2014 Royal Rumble. Punk’s WWE run should be remembered for the positive impact he left on WWE and its fans even though his 2014 exit was due to his extreme unhappiness with how things transpired in his final months.
Just like any high-profile wrestler, his career was full of awesome feuds and also some that were not so good. Everybody goes through that no matter how special their career ends up being. In Punk’s case, he was usually able to bring out the best of his opponents because he was an above-average in-ring performers as well as one of the best talkers ever.
When his heart was really into it, few were better at telling a story in the ring or on the microphone. It’s why he called himself the “best in the world” and why he was arguably WWE’s best performer for several years at least.
Here’s a look at some of the worst feuds of CM Punk’s WWE career. If you’re wondering, the feud with WWE’s Dr. Chris Amann that led to a lawsuit did not make the list! I’m strictly going with rivalries in a wrestling ring.
10. Curtis Axel
They feuded in the summer of 2013 after the big heel turn by Paul Heyman when he cost CM Punk the Money in the Bank match. Punk went on to battle Brock Lesnar, but then Lesnar went away for one of his lengthy breaks and it led to Punk facing Axel a few times.
It was a very forgettable rivalry because nobody believed that Axel was going to beat Punk clean in a match. Even with Heyman doing great promos, Axel’s push didn’t work. It hurt the Punk/Heyman feud tremendously.
If I had to guess, this was probably around the time when Punk was losing interest in wresting because you could tell he wasn’t having that much fun at it.
It was the highest profile rivalry in Axel’s career, but for Punk it was definitely one of the worst.
9. The Legacy
This wasn’t even really a full feud, but it was a moment in Punk’s career that sucked because WWE felt like ending his World Title reign in 2008 without putting him in a match. At Unforgiven 2008, the World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk was attacked backstage by Randy Orton’s Legacy group that also included Cody Rhodes, Ted Dibiase and Manu.
Due to the attack, which ended with a punt to the head, Punk was taken out of his World Title defense that night and Chris Jericho ended up winning the Championship Scramble match to become the new champion. As Punk explained on the DVD documentary that WWE released, WWE wanted the World Title on Jericho for his feud with Shawn Michaels, so Punk was booked like a loser.
Did Punk make it a point to get full revenge on the group as soon as he got back because they cost him the WWE Title? He did a bit, but it was nothing significant. After losing a World Title match to Chris Jericho, Punk was back to being a babyface that was teaming with Kofi Kingston and they won the Tag Titles from Rhodes & Dibiase.
That feud could have been built up after Punk’s World Title loss via forfeit. Instead, it was pretty forgettable and did nothing to help Punk’s career.
8. John Bradshaw Layfield
CM Punk won his first World Heavyweight Title on June 30, 2008 after a Money in the Bank cash-in. One of his first rivals after winning that coveted title was John Bradshaw Layfield. The idea behind the feud was that JBL was a veteran that was a former WWE Champion, so if Punk could get past him then he would prove he was going to be a capable World Champion.
The build up to their big match was bad since JBL challenged Punk to an alcohol drinking contest since Punk was straight edge and wouldn’t drink alcohol. The whole thing came off as really lame instead of a creative way to get heel heat. At this point in his career, JBL looked like he was done in the ring. He would retire less than a year later.
That led to a SummerSlam 2008 match for the World Title where Punk tried his best to put on a good showing with the veteran that was well past his prime, but it just didn’t work. The whole thing was pretty forgettable all things considered.
7. Big Daddy V
The WWE creative team had so many start/stop pushes for Big Daddy V aka Viscera aka Mabel throughout his career. In 2007, he was put on the ECW brand as a bodyguard type of character for Matt Striker, who was one of the main heels in ECW. Punk was the babyface ECW Champion by that point in his career and this was a way to have Punk go over a big guy to prove he’s a great champion.
The smart booking would have been for Punk to win clean since Big Daddy V wasn’t near a top guy anyway, so why do something else? That would have made a lot of sense for the feud.
They had their “big” match at the No Mercy 2007 PPV that was over in only two minutes because Striker went into the ring to attack Punk. It didn’t make sense that Striker would cost Big Daddy V the match by interfering just two minutes into a title match. Post match, Big Daddy V continued the attack and Punk was left bleeding from the mouth. They didn’t have a PPV match again.
If people are out there wondering why WWE’s ECW sucked so much, just show them this match and how this feud was booked because it was an example of how bad things were at times for the ECW brand.
6. Mike Knox
Punk’s first real feud on the main roster was in ECW against Mike Knox, who was a bigger guy with a thick beard and a really hot girlfriend named Kelly Kelly. She was only around 19 years old at the time and her gimmick was that she liked to strip in front of people. What a great career!
The story was that Kelly started to like Punk because Knox was angry about her willingness to strip. It was one of those typical wrestling storylines where a mean guy somehow lands a really hot girlfriend and of course he gets jealous about things because that’s what these guys love to do. Since Kelly took a liking to Punk, Knox wanted to beat up Punk for revenge.
They had several matches together in the latter half of 2006 with Punk winning pretty much every time and it was never that good. That’s what happens when you have a silly storyline attached to it.
For what it’s worth, Punk was romantically linked at one point in his career to Kelly Kelly, so at least you could say he got something worthwhile out of the feud.
5. Big Show
The Straight Edge Society was awesome while it lasted, but like a lot of good things in WWE, it just didn’t last long enough. Punk was the leader of a stable that included Luke Gallows, the lovely Serena and Joey Mercury. They were heels that thought they were better than everybody since they were straight edge, so it was easy to hate them.
Following Punk’s awesome feud that he lost and led to his head being shaved, he started to wear a mask just to upset people since Punk was selling the idea that he hated being bald. That led to a feud with the bald Big Show, who ended up ripping off Punk’s mask and it led to a silly face from Punk to sell his anger at the whole thing.
Big Show beat the entire Straight Edge Society in a 3 on 1 handicap match at SummerSlam 2010 that basically killed the whole stable since they were gone shortly after that due to outside reasons. Then Show beat Punk again at the next PPV Night of Champions in under five minutes.
It took a while to recover from this feud because it made Punk look like a total loser at a point when he probably should have been booked a lot stronger.
4. Elijah Burke
This is how CM Punk described Elijah Burke during a 2012 interview where he took fan questions and was asked about who he didn’t like working with:
“My least favorite opponent; does anyone even remember Elijah Burke? Oh, he was terrible. He is absolutely the worst. Absolutely the worst. Talk about a diva. Man oh man, sorry if you liked him.”
They had a feud on the ECW brand in 2006 where Punk was deciding if he wanted to be a part of the New Breed stable with Burke and others or if he was going to join with the ECW Originals. He ended up turning on the New Breed stable and working with the babyface originals.
The main reason for Punk’s issues is that Burke had a reputation for complaining a lot and probably for whining about his push, which is why Punk called him a diva. He also didn’t think of Burke as much of a worker either, so it’s understandable why Punk was so angry when talking about him.
3. Leader Of The Nexus Feud Vs. John Cena
The CM Punk DVD documentary that WWE released during his run at the top was very insightful because we got to hear about Punk complaining about certain things in his career. One of those things was that WWE chose to push The Miz to the WrestleMania 27 main event against John Cena.
In Punk’s eyes, he was better than The Miz so it bothered him quite a bit and you could see that when he spoke about it. If you look at their careers, they started at around the same time with Punk having a lot more memorable matches and feuds. Miz has had a much longer career in WWE, but that doesn’t mean it’s better.
Punk ended up being the TV feud of Cena meaning that he had to put Cena over prior to his WrestleMania 27 feud with The Miz that also involved The Rock. That meant that Punk also became the leader of The New Nexus stable, which failed miserably and you could tell that Punk wasn’t too happy about that either. Remember Mason Ryan of The Nexus? That didn’t go anywhere either.
When Punk did that breakout promo of his in June 2011 in Las Vegas on Raw where he sat on the stage and vented his frustrations, he was still actually part of The Nexus. Then for his Money in the Bank match with Cena, it said he was still a part of The Nexus. That whole storyline ended without any real closure to it too.
Things ended up fine for Punk in the summer of 2011, but those first few months of the year were incredibly frustrating for him because there really was no direction.
2. Triple H And Kevin Nash
The second worst feud of CM Punk’s career involved Triple H and his good buddy Kevin Nash, who for some reason was a part of this storyline that really didn’t have a good payoff.
CM Punk was the WWE Champion after Money in the Bank 2011. A month later at SummerSlam, he lost it after Kevin Nash randomly attacked him with a Powerbomb and then Alberto Del Rio cashed in via MITB briefcase. A month after that, Punk headlined Night of Champions against Triple H because he thought Hunter was out to get him, which is why Nash was there.
It’s that Punk vs. Hunter at Night of Champions match that really upset people. Instead of Punk winning as the younger guy, Hunter got the win and they never had another match. What was the point of it, really? It was only done to build Hunter’s rivalry with Nash, which was ridiculously boring and led to a terrible TLC match a few months later.
The only highlight of the Punk/Nash feud was when he read a joke tweet from his sister saying: “Kevin Nash lol – I thought he was dead!” It was pretty funny the way Punk read it.
For this feud to really work, Hunter should have turned heel. The reason he didn’t is because he wanted to do the big angle with The Undertaker at WrestleMania 28 where it was the “End of an Era” with Shawn Michaels also involved, so if Hunter was a heel that wouldn’t have been as memorable.
Here’s how Nash explained it in early 2012 noting he was on some prescription drug called Plavix that he was told to take:
“When the doctor sees I’m on Plavix, I can’t wrestle. So now I’m supposed to wrestle CM Punk. I can’t. They won’t medically clear me. Triple H has to take my spot. It screws up the entire angle. That’s how all that came about. WWE would never – because that’s the class of the program – let that come out, but I need to make sure people realize it wasn’t Creative’s [fault], it was that a 52 year old guy was on Plavix and I had to go off it. I had to be off it for a certain amount of time before I could go back to work.”
That’s a nice way of Nash defending the creative team. They still could have done something where Punk ultimately beat Triple H because losing to him was a stupid decision.
CM Punk hated working with Ryback. They had two feuds: One of them was in 2012 when Punk was the heel WWE Champion and Ryback was a rising babyface while the other one was in 2013 with Punk in the babyface role and Ryback was a heel paired with Paul Heyman.
When Punk did his famous shoot interview with Colt Cabana on “Art of Wrestling” in 2014, he wasn’t shy in his criticism of Ryback:
“Cena got hurt and they asked me to work with that guy and I was thrilled to have to wrestle steroid guy. One time, he kicked me in my stomach and broke my ribs and never apologized.”
Saying he was thrilled was Punk sarcasm, of course.
There was another time where Punk mentioned that in 2013 he thought he had a clean slate with Ryback when he agreed to work with him again. He mentioned how at one point Ryback hit a gorilla press through a table and he missed the table, so Punk was dumped on the concrete. It messed him up for weeks so much so that Punk started to have some serious health problems.
In terms of the actual feud and their matches, they were below average. Ryback showed that he didn’t belong in main events in 2012. For whatever reason, WWE felt the need to give it a try a year later with him in a heel role.
The fact that Punk hated working with “steroid guy” and their matches were never really that good proves that it was definitely one of Punk’s worst feuds in WWE.
I originally wrote this on another website many years ago and changed some things for this posting. I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading.