John Morrison vs. CM Punk for the ECW Championship
We continue on through the summer of 2007 and over on ECW, things feel drastically different from where we were when we started the year. Bobby Lashley was now on RAW, the ECW Originals/New Breed feud was pretty much dead at this point, and the ECW Title was on possibly the most unlikeliest of people in Johnny Nitro. While the decision on the surface seemed like a head scratcher given that Nitro had not done much since losing the IC Title, it was clear that the company still had high hopes for him and they pretty much threw him into the deep end of the pool by putting the title on him. On the flip side, Punk looked to be on the verge of being the top guy of ECW only to in essence have the rug pulled out from under him when he lost the match at Vengeance. However, there was still belief that he would eventually win the title from Nitro and we will see if they can build their chemistry after the slight disappointment of their last match.
On the 6/26 ECW, Nitro faced and lost to John Cena in a battle of champions and later that night, Punk defeated Elijah Burke in a 2-out-of-3 falls match to become the Number One Contender for the title. On the 7/3 ECW, this match was announced and both men would pick special opponents for the other that night, and Nitro would defeat Tommy Dreamer while Punk defeated Kevin Thorn despite interference from Nitro. On the 7/10 ECW, Punk defeated Stevie Richards while Nitro watched from the back and later that night, Nitro would defeat Dreamer in an Extreme Rules match. On the 7/17 ECW, a spokesperson for Nitro announced that he would have a major announcement and Punk would defeat Burke again, and at the end of the show Nitro held a press conference where he rechristened himself John Morrison and cut a promo on Punk who confronted him and Morrison left him laid out. This match has been pretty well built on TV and going in, it seemed like Punk was ready to take the title though given the hoopla around Morrison’s name change, now there was question if he might retain here.
Punk gets a good pop from the crowd while Morrison had decent heat as a heel as he has new music and new attire to go with the new attitude. The two men lock up to start with Morrison going behind Punk who turns it around and Morrison hits a drop toehold, and he hooks a front facelock as Punk escapes and works on the arm as Morrison fights to his feet and gets a back elbow in. He hooks a headlock and knocks Punk down only for Punk to trip him up and he hooks a headlock on, and Morrison escapes with an armdrag and Punk kicks at his legs before hitting a slingshot suplex for a two count. He pounds on Morrison and hits a snapmare before hitting a low dropkick to the back of his head for a two count, and Morrison gets a knee in only for Punk to reverse a whip into the corner and he hits a monkey flip that flips Morrison onto his stomach. Morrison rolls outside to regroup and Punk goes outside as he catches a kick attempt and hits a short clothesline, and Punk climbs up the steps only for Morrison to sweep his leg out and Punk lands face first on the steps. He rams Punk into the apron and throws him into the ring for a two count before kicking at him repeatedly, and Punk catches a kick attempt and hoists him onto his shoulders only for Morrison to hit a series of elbows and he slams Punk’s head into the mat. He hits a spinning legdrop on Punk for a two count and hooks a submission on as Punk escapes with a series of back elbows, and he gets a shot in only for Morrison to get a shot in on Punk’s back and he hits a back suplex flapjack for a two count. Morrison pounds on Punk on the mat and stomps on him before putting him on the top rope and he goes up himself, but Punk blocks a superplex attempt by sending Morrison to the mat and sets himself up as he hits a crossbody on Morrison. He pounds on Morrison and kicks at him repeatedly before hitting a spinning clothesline and a slam, and he hits a flapjack on Morrison and kicks at him for a two count as Morrison escapes a suplex attempt and Punk goes behind him before hooking a rollup for a two count. Morrison rolls through and uses the ropes for leverage for a two count as the ref catches him, and Morrison argues with the ref as Punk hooks a rollup for a two count and then he hits a stiff standing enzurgiri for a two count. He rams the knee into Morrison twice and whips him into the corner before hitting the running knee, but Morrison escapes the running bulldog and rolls outside to regroup as he grabs the belt and starts to head to the back. Punk goes outside and nails Morrison before throwing him back into the ring and he gets on the apron, and he attempts a springboard only for Morrison to catch him with a kick to the knee which gets the three and he retains the title.
The match itself was pretty good as both men worked hard and put on a solid match that was much better than their match back at Vengeance. Obviously, they had more time and more of a build to prepare for this match and the chemistry between the two has gotten better since Vengeance, and they showed they could have a good match here though I do think they could’ve gotten a few more minutes to really get cooking. You have to give Morrison credit for working his ass off to be a credible champion given he was thrust into this position without being ready for it, and it was clear that Punk was now being considered the top face on ECW with Lashley being moved to RAW. I was actually shocked that they had Morrison pin Punk clean again as it seemed like it made more sense for Punk to win by DQ to keep the feud going, but now you have to wonder what will happen as Punk has now dropped two straight in big time matches. The crowd was into the match and Punk, but are not happy when Morrison wins. Morrison retains the title over Punk though this issue isn’t over yet.
Final Grade: ***