Punk's bank to break
At WrestleMania XXIV, CM Punk seized an undisputed opportunity of a lifetime when he climbed a ladder of success to clinch the Money in the Bank briefcase.
Holding onto it like his career depended on it, that very briefcase -- the ultimate 'Mania souvenir -- hasn't left the Straightedge Superstar's side since he pulled it from its spot above the ring on Sunday night. CM Punk has proudly hauled the coveted case from the Citrus Bowl to his hotel to post-WrestleMania festivities to Monday Night Raw, in the locker room and through the halls of Orlando's Amway Arena.
And who could blame him? The contents of that extraordinary piece of luggage offer the former ECW Champion an opportunity to once again hold one of WWE's highly coveted titles. Punk's critical, career-altering victory now puts him in charge of his own destiny; it gives the Straightedge Superstar the power to pick the time and place in the next year for a future match against a World Champion of his choosing.
It is this quite unique "cash-22" clause that works in his favor and also lends itself to a number of questions: When? Where? And, of course, which title?
The latest Mr. Money in the Bank can choose any of WWE's three brands to cash in. CM Punk could easily seek out to reclaim the ECW Title by knocking on the door of newly crowned champion Kane. The tattooed ECW Superstar could always, however, aim to bring gold from other brands to the Land of the Extreme by challenging WWE Champion Randy Orton or even World Heavyweight Champion Undertaker -- at any time Punk sees fit.
As the days on the calendar pass till WrestleMania XXV, the Legend Killer and The Phenom not only have the athletes of Raw and SmackDown, respectively, to contend with; they now must keep their guard up a potential quick strike by the competition-craving, skillful Straightedge Superstar.
Former World Heavyweight Champion Edge is perhaps the most notable Money in the Bank winner. The Rated-R Superstar earned the right to be called the Ultimate Opportunist by cashing in (without any notice) against both John Cena and Undertaker at their weakest moments, and landing the appropriate deathblows to capture the gold.
By contrast to Edge, Rob Van Dam didn't devise an underhanded plot to surprise his targeted champion. Instead, the ECW Original elected to use his coveted Money in the Bank contract on the suitable pay-per-view stage of One Night Stand 2006.
No matter how it's sliced, each time cashed in, the Superstar seizing this extraordinary opportunity has struck gold. That said, what will Punk's path be? What type of strategy will the crafty competitor develop en route to a World Championship Match? Could it be as early as the next edition of Raw, ECW or SmackDown?
Might he treat himself to a golden birthday present in October? Will he wait for a larger audience and hold out to make history at one of sports-entertainment's pay-per-view extravaganzas? Might he do it the next time WWE rolls into his hometown of Chicago? A rainy day? Or will it be just one day when Punk is feeling lucky and -- in keeping with his motto, "Luck is for losers" -- decide to make his own good fortune in the middle of the ring?
It only takes three seconds to crown a new World Champion in WWE. So be sure to keep your eye close on CM Punk and, by all means, don't blink.