In several ways, a CM Punk-Daniel Bryan WWE Championship Match was always fated to be. The two Superstars are among the purest athletes and finest technicians WWE has ever seen. Their championship reigns were some of the most dominant in late 2011 and early 2012, and they come from a hardscrabble, old-school wrestling background that has endeared them to the WWE Universe in a way that is not typically seen amongst modern Superstars. And now, at Over the Limit, they will finally meet with the supreme prize on the line.

The clash is sure to be a memorable one: each time these two have met in the ring, the results have been electric. The two wrestled a fierce sequence of Champion vs. Champion Matches earlier this year, when Bryan still held the World Heavyweight Title, and their paths have crossed numerous times over 10 years in smaller, independent promotions all over the world.

Bryan seemed to be out of the world title picture after a pair of losses to Sheamus – the infamous 18-second defeat that cost him the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania, and a grueling 2-out-of-3-Falls rematch a few weeks later at Extreme Rules. But the upstart Superstar was actually emboldened by his effort in the rematch, which saw him trap The Great White in the “Yes!” Lock and render him unconscious in the process. Bryan’s bravado carried him through a Beat the Clock Challenge on the following night’s Raw, when he beat times set by Randy Orton and The Miz to earn the right to challenge for Punk’s mantle.

Immediately after learning of his new No. 1 contender, The Second City Saint made his presence known. Punk sized up his future opponent from the stage and offered a round of applause in approval for his opponent before holding his title aloft in defiance of his challenger. Bryan responded with a mocking gesture of his own, which is particularly fitting given the rivalry between these two: neither will budge, neither will back down. But only time will tell who is left standing with the ultimate prize in hand.

RALEIGH, N.C.– Far from their humble beginnings competing inside state armories and high school gymnasiums, WWE Champion CM Punk and No. 1 contender Daniel Bryan battled in an instant classic that left the WWE Universe absolutely breathless and Bryan incredulous. When the smoke cleared and the chants of “This is awesome” quieted, Punk was left holding the WWE Title, although the pinfall he used to achieve that end has already been called into question. ( PHOTOS | PUNK'S EXCLUSIVE POST-MATCH INTERVIEW)

From their many travels around the globe perfecting their craft, to their current statuses as two of the world’s premier talents, Punk and Bryan have been on parallel paths for most of their careers. ( Punk & Bryan’s Long Road to the Top)

At WWE Over the Limit, those paths intersected.

With arguably WWE’s two most technically proficient grapplers clashing head-on, the match was projected from the outset to be a wrestling purist’s dream, and it more than lived up to those lofty expectations. Despite their obvious scientific wrestling prowess, neither the 6-foot-2 Punk nor the 5-foot-11 Bryan has ever been confused for anything resembling a WWE poster boy.

Instead of boasting larger-than-life chiseled physiques, Punk and Bryan have established themselves as ring generals, and at WWE Over the Limit, vindication for their hard work – in the form of the ultimate symbol of excellence in sports-entertainment, the WWE Championship – was up for grabs.

Although the title bout seemed forged by fate, it actually originated out of circumstance, when Bryan won a Beat the Clock Challenge on Raw SuperShow to claim his spot as the No. 1 contender. Since then, Bryan made every attempt to score an advantage on The Second City Saint. Bryan’s latest offense, an act of trickery that caused an irate Kane to brutalize Punk with a steel chair and two chokeslams following a match on SmackDown, appeared to have done the trick.

At the very least, Bryan’s dastardly tactic irritated Punk, who moments before the opening bell told Josh Mathews that even though their match should be seen as a “triumph” for himself and Bryan, the "Yes!" man’s change of heart this past year has dampened the festivities. According to The Straight Edge Superstar, the bout would be much more than a five-star match – it’d be a “five-star beat down.”

Punk’s words, it turned out, would prove prescient.

At the sound of the opening bell, Punk and Bryan began the contest with a feeling-out process in which they peppered each other with sharp kicks. The Second City Saint quickly went on the offensive, using submission holds – including an Indian Death Lock – against the self-proclaimed “submission specialist.” Throughout the bout, Punk would return again and again to Bryan’s left leg.

After avoiding a Punk baseball slide, however, Bryan rammed the WWE Champion back-first into the ringside barrier, further weakening Punk’s ribs, which appeared to have not yet healed from Kane’s attack Friday.

From there, Bryan attacked with pit bull-like tenacity. He kneed Punk’s midsection and used a torso-wrenching abdominal stretch to great effect.

Never one to be counted down, The Straight Edge Superstar would again turn the tables on his storied foe, reversing a Bryan kick into a dragon-screw leg whip before locking him into a seemingly inescapable figure-four – causing more damage to Bryan’s already smarting knee.

"How many near falls have there been in this match, not to mention the submission predicaments?" Jerry “The King” Lawler wondered aloud, as Punk and Bryan warred on to the sounds of the WWE Universe's dueling chants of “Daniel Bryan” and “CM Punk” (and, occasionally, “Yes!” and “No!").

Punk and Bryan’s intimate knowledge of each other's move sets was obvious, as they reversed signature holds and tried valiantly to check kicks and block elbow strikes. As Punk built momentum, he nailed his trademark high running knee in the corner.

Yet, when Punk tried for the second half of his patented combo, the running bulldog, his effort was blocked by Bryan and reversed into a “Yes!" Lock.

Although the lock was clamped on for several moments, the WWE Champion nonetheless had the wherewithal to use Bryan's momentum against him. As Bryan applied more pressure and leaned back on the hold, Punk turned the dangerous lock into a cradle for a stunning pinfall at the 24-minute mark.

The win, however, was not without controversy, as almost simultaneous with the pinfall, Punk visibly tapped out.

With Punk barely able to hold his championship overhead in an exhausted celebration, Bryan – who clearly believed he was wronged – jawed angrily with the referee.

For once all the “Yes!” man could say was, “No! No! No!”

WWE Over the Limit
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WWE Over the Limit
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In several ways, a CM Punk-Daniel Bryan WWE Championship Match was always fated to be. The two Superstars are among the purest athletes and finest technicians WWE has ever seen. Their championship reigns were some of the most dominant in late 2011 and early 2012, and they come from a hardscrabble, old-school wrestling background that has endeared them to the WWE Universe in a way that is not typically seen amongst modern Superstars. And now, at Over the Limit, they will finally meet with the supreme prize on the line.

The clash is sure to be a memorable one: each time these two have met in the ring, the results have been electric. The two wrestled a fierce sequence of Champion vs. Champion Matches earlier this year, when Bryan still held the World Heavyweight Title, and their paths have crossed numerous times over 10 years in smaller, independent promotions all over the world.

Bryan seemed to be out of the world title picture after a pair of losses to Sheamus – the infamous 18-second defeat that cost him the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania, and a grueling 2-out-of-3-Falls rematch a few weeks later at Extreme Rules. But the upstart Superstar was actually emboldened by his effort in the rematch, which saw him trap The Great White in the “Yes!” Lock and render him unconscious in the process. Bryan’s bravado carried him through a Beat the Clock Challenge on the following night’s Raw, when he beat times set by Randy Orton and The Miz to earn the right to challenge for Punk’s mantle.

Immediately after learning of his new No. 1 contender, The Second City Saint made his presence known. Punk sized up his future opponent from the stage and offered a round of applause in approval for his opponent before holding his title aloft in defiance of his challenger. Bryan responded with a mocking gesture of his own, which is particularly fitting given the rivalry between these two: neither will budge, neither will back down. But only time will tell who is left standing with the ultimate prize in hand.

RALEIGH, N.C.– Far from their humble beginnings competing inside state armories and high school gymnasiums, WWE Champion CM Punk and No. 1 contender Daniel Bryan battled in an instant classic that left the WWE Universe absolutely breathless and Bryan incredulous. When the smoke cleared and the chants of “This is awesome” quieted, Punk was left holding the WWE Title, although the pinfall he used to achieve that end has already been called into question. ( PHOTOS | PUNK'S EXCLUSIVE POST-MATCH INTERVIEW)

From their many travels around the globe perfecting their craft, to their current statuses as two of the world’s premier talents, Punk and Bryan have been on parallel paths for most of their careers. ( Punk & Bryan’s Long Road to the Top)

At WWE Over the Limit, those paths intersected.

With arguably WWE’s two most technically proficient grapplers clashing head-on, the match was projected from the outset to be a wrestling purist’s dream, and it more than lived up to those lofty expectations. Despite their obvious scientific wrestling prowess, neither the 6-foot-2 Punk nor the 5-foot-11 Bryan has ever been confused for anything resembling a WWE poster boy.

Instead of boasting larger-than-life chiseled physiques, Punk and Bryan have established themselves as ring generals, and at WWE Over the Limit, vindication for their hard work – in the form of the ultimate symbol of excellence in sports-entertainment, the WWE Championship – was up for grabs.

Although the title bout seemed forged by fate, it actually originated out of circumstance, when Bryan won a Beat the Clock Challenge on Raw SuperShow to claim his spot as the No. 1 contender. Since then, Bryan made every attempt to score an advantage on The Second City Saint. Bryan’s latest offense, an act of trickery that caused an irate Kane to brutalize Punk with a steel chair and two chokeslams following a match on SmackDown, appeared to have done the trick.

At the very least, Bryan’s dastardly tactic irritated Punk, who moments before the opening bell told Josh Mathews that even though their match should be seen as a “triumph” for himself and Bryan, the "Yes!" man’s change of heart this past year has dampened the festivities. According to The Straight Edge Superstar, the bout would be much more than a five-star match – it’d be a “five-star beat down.”

Punk’s words, it turned out, would prove prescient.

At the sound of the opening bell, Punk and Bryan began the contest with a feeling-out process in which they peppered each other with sharp kicks. The Second City Saint quickly went on the offensive, using submission holds – including an Indian Death Lock – against the self-proclaimed “submission specialist.” Throughout the bout, Punk would return again and again to Bryan’s left leg.

After avoiding a Punk baseball slide, however, Bryan rammed the WWE Champion back-first into the ringside barrier, further weakening Punk’s ribs, which appeared to have not yet healed from Kane’s attack Friday.

From there, Bryan attacked with pit bull-like tenacity. He kneed Punk’s midsection and used a torso-wrenching abdominal stretch to great effect.

Never one to be counted down, The Straight Edge Superstar would again turn the tables on his storied foe, reversing a Bryan kick into a dragon-screw leg whip before locking him into a seemingly inescapable figure-four – causing more damage to Bryan’s already smarting knee.

"How many near falls have there been in this match, not to mention the submission predicaments?" Jerry “The King” Lawler wondered aloud, as Punk and Bryan warred on to the sounds of the WWE Universe's dueling chants of “Daniel Bryan” and “CM Punk” (and, occasionally, “Yes!” and “No!").

Punk and Bryan’s intimate knowledge of each other's move sets was obvious, as they reversed signature holds and tried valiantly to check kicks and block elbow strikes. As Punk built momentum, he nailed his trademark high running knee in the corner.

Yet, when Punk tried for the second half of his patented combo, the running bulldog, his effort was blocked by Bryan and reversed into a “Yes!" Lock.

Although the lock was clamped on for several moments, the WWE Champion nonetheless had the wherewithal to use Bryan's momentum against him. As Bryan applied more pressure and leaned back on the hold, Punk turned the dangerous lock into a cradle for a stunning pinfall at the 24-minute mark.

The win, however, was not without controversy, as almost simultaneous with the pinfall, Punk visibly tapped out.

With Punk barely able to hold his championship overhead in an exhausted celebration, Bryan – who clearly believed he was wronged – jawed angrily with the referee.

For once all the “Yes!” man could say was, “No! No! No!”