The History of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan

Page 3 of 5
May 09, 2012

2005-2011: The Big Stage

It was Punk who did it first, infamously (according to wrestling lore) using his independent championship as a clipboard to sign his WWE contract and igniting the “Summer of Punk,” a blaze-of-glory championship run that swept the independent scene in the final months before he relocated to WWE developmental. Punk’s first appearance with the company, however, was appropriately low-key, if not fitting with the underdog stigma that surrounded him: he was one of the faux-goons riding on the side of John Cena’s car at WrestleMania 22 in Punk’s hometown of Chicago.

Punk’s proper debut was far more dynamic, as The Second City Saint rattled off an undefeated streak on the resurrected ECW. Rising to the challenge of WWE stardom, Punk eventually captured a pair of Intercontinental and World Heavyweight Championship reigns. The "indie king" was fast in carving out a name for himself as a Superstar to be reckoned with, despite the under-the-radar pedigree that many said would be a hindrance to his rise.

While Punk ascended, however, Bryan continued to toil in the independent scene until he finally got his chance as one of the rookies in the inaugural season of WWE NXT. He was one of the first cast off the competition as The Miz’s rookie, and briefly parted ways with the company altogether until he returned at SummerSlam 2010 (WATCH: DANIEL BRYAN REACTS TO HIS NXT ELIMINATION). It wasn’t long before Bryan made a name for himself just as Punk had, winning the United States Title from his former mentor.

It looked as though the two would remain on divergent paths until the 2011 Royal Rumble, when Punk and Bryan were the first two entrants in the historic, 40-man Rumble Match itself. (PHOTOS: 2011 ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH) Bryan put up a strong showing in his first big-match situation, but he was ultimately bested, tossed out of the ring by none other than The Second City Saint himself. Punk vs. Bryan in WWE finally had a scorecard, if only for a chance meeting.

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