CM Punk returned to WWE Backstage this week and was once again asked to reflect on his illustrious career. At one point the former WWE Champion was asked which match he was most proud of, and instead of picking one from his Ring of Honor days or one of his world championship victories, Punk picked a simple match from a February 2013 episode of Monday Night Raw. The match saw him take on John Cena, and if he won he would be inserted into the WWE Championship match with The Rock at WrestleMania 29.
Despite pushing Cena to his limit for nearly 30 minutes (and hitting him with a piledriver when the move had already been quietly banned), Punk lost. And yet he remembers the match fondly for a couple of reasons.
Match they're most proud of:@CMPunk: vs. @JohnCena on RAW in 2013@RealPaigeWWE: vs. @TheAJMendez at SummerSlam@BeckyLynchWWE: vs. @MsCharlotteWWE at Evolution— WWE on FOX (@WWEonFOX) January 22, 2020
& vs. @SashaBanksWWE at Hell In a Cell.#WWEBackstage pic.twitter.com/KQyV81tI29
"Ironically enough for a guy that calls himself the 'Best in the World,' I don't like talking about myself," Punk said. "But off the top of my head I remember wrestling John Cena in [Dallas]... and it was kind of thrown together last minute and I was told that it was going to be for a shot at The Rock at WrestleMania. Becky [Lynch] is sitting here talking about chips on her shoulders, being hot, being cold... Michael Jordan had the 'flu game,' I had the flu match. I was deathly ill for this. And I remember just laying on the floor being like, man I felt like I ran another marathon and I get to the finish line and I've got to hand the baton off to somebody else who runs the last .2 miles and gets to cross the finish line."
At the time Punk had just seen his 434-day reign as WWE Champion end when he lost to The Rock at the Royal Rumble. Cena won the Rumble match earlier that night, meaning Punk was on the outside looking in for Mania that year.
"I was just like, 'Man, I don't know what I'm doing anymore.' And John was like, 'Well, what do you want to do?' And I just said, 'I want to give you a piledriver, John.' That was it, that's all we had," he continued. "We went out there and I think the crowd certainly helped us because I was so sick that that I just... it was really hard to care, and they made me care. I went out there and I felt their energy and we gave to them something that I think stands the test of time."
Punk said that match felt like his WrestleMania, since he had no idea he'd be in a program with The Undertaker just a few short months later.
Less than a year later, Punk would walk out of the WWE.