PWP Nation’s Brennan Daly revisits the epic feud between Jeff Hardy and CM Punk from WWE Night of Champions 2009.
I’ll be honest with you, looking back at the previous cards for Night Of Champions there weren’t many matches that stuck out. The bright side to the past Night Of Champions is that it helped culminate one of the best personal rivalries.
What rivalry am I talking about?
Does the “The Charismatic Enigma” vs. “The Straight-Edge Superstar” ring a bell to anyone else? Jeff Hardy and CM Punk were the two guys who couldn’t be more different than one another. However in the ring these two had such an amazing chemistry and delivered night in and night out. Those are among the many reasons that this feud was better than Randy Orton vs. Triple H.
Extreme Rules 2009 was when everything began for these two. Punk had won his second money in the bank briefcase at WrestleMania 26. His first run with the briefcase was not a success as he only held the title for a month. Even worse was that he didn’t even get the opportunity to defend his title as Randy Orton punted him out of action. Hardy was finally given the World Heavyweight Championship after defeating Edge in a fierce ladder match. The risk taker (Hardy) was at the top of the mountain and it seemed like no one could take his moment away from him.
As soon as the bell rang to end the match the music of Punk hit and the whole WWE universe went BANANAS. It was clear that The Money In The Bank Briefcase was about to be cashed in. Hardy had just beaten the “Ultimate Opportunist”(Edge) and it made sense for Punk to become the so-called “New Ultimate Opportunist”. After two Go To Sleeps by Punk, Hardy fell off the mountain that he had dreamt about ever since he was wrestling in his backyard as a kid.
Punk said on a following SmackDown, “I’ve always done what’s best for me, that doesn’t make me a bad guy. It makes me a smart person”. Little did we know that this statement would really define who he was in real life.
The move instantly made Punk a heel in many fan’s eyes. He didn’t do anything anyone else hadn’t done before but fans of Hardy took it as a personal shot. This began a new run for Punk as he was given the ability to work as a heel. It was clear that Punk felt more natural being a jackass and this feud was the beginning of his run as a serious contender for the future.
Being a big Punk fan, it was nice to see the dark side of him because he was becoming a stale baby face. It can be argued that before the 434-day reign, before MITB 2011, before the pipebomb; it was this feud that made Punk into a main event star.
At The Bash, Hardy used his rematch clause to try and dethrone the brash, cocky Punk. Toward the end of the match we saw the drama unfold as Punk got his leg under the bottom rope and the ref counted the three count. Noticing his mistake the ref decided to restart the match. Punk quickly reversed a Twist Of Fate into a Go To Sleep leaving Hardy to elbow his way out of it. In doing so, Hardy supposedly hit the eye of Punk. Punk had run into the corner acting as if he was in a lot of pain, therefore the ref went to check on him. As soon as the ref turned his back toward Hardy, Punk kicked the ref in the back acting as if he didn’t know whom he was kicking. Punk was disqualified for his actions and retained his World Heavyweight Championship.
Night of Champions a month later was when Hardy was given one more shot to regain his title from Punk. Both men made sure the fans got their moneys worth by putting on a great Main Event match. The great pre-match promo was something that helped elevate this match. In the promo Punk stressed that the “Living in the moment” lifestyle is the problem with Hardy. Things took an uncomfortable turn for many people, as Jeff’s real-life drug addiction issues were used as part of the storyline.
The match saw both men looking like they would win at several different points, but they would always kick out or find a way to counter the other.
Punk dug deep in his bag of tricks for this match, bringing out a Bow-and-Arrow submission and even a Dragon Sleeper to throw some variety into his routine for the night.
Hardy ran his usual risk-taking style throughout the match, missing more big spots throughout the match than connecting. Whenever Hardy went for these spots, you knew eventually he would hit some crazy ass move.
Finishers were kicked out left and right, which got the crowd into it. Twenty minutes of intense back and forth all out action, Hardy got the win with his third attempt at a Swanton Bomb. The crowd popped huge for the “Charismatic Enigma”, and Hardy righted what he saw as a wrong from Extreme Rules.
Many would argue that this was their best match during the feud and it also helped tell a story that was realistic. Hardy was the guy who had worked so hard to get to the top and had it stolen away from Punk who never really got a shot to be himself. It was a great night for fans of Hardy and the children who supported Hardy through his roller coaster career.
In another great battle the next month at SummerSlam, Punk regained the World Heavyweight Championship in a TLC Match. Hardy was sent packing a couple weeks later on Smackdown in a stipulation where if Punk beat him again he had to leave WWE. Punk escaped the Steel Cage, leaving Hardy without a job.
Was this the last time the WWE universe would ever see him in a WWE ring again? Six years later and there are rumors that the company maybe interested in him. Hardy has changed his lifestyle around and is now supposedly clean. A drug record is a big deal in the WWE world but I wouldn’t mind seeing Hardy work a limited schedule. If he is clean, he could help elevate a ton of the younger wrestlers. Hell, wouldn’t a Hardy Boyz reunion be pretty cool?
Looking back, this was without a doubt one of the best feuds in WWE history. I wish this feud could have progressed because the chemistry between these two is something the WWE has historically only seen a couple of times.