CM Punk vs. Johnny Nitro for the vacant ECW Championship
We now come to the second of two PPVs for the month of June and suffice to say, this show and weekend would end up going down as one of the most historical in history though not in a good way. The events of the weekend were so tragic and mind-blowing that it would end up rocking the wrestling world to its core, but to most fans they had no idea what was going on as they were focusing on the show. For the fans of CM Punk, this was a big weekend for them because he was finally being pushed to the ECW Title picture and many believed that this would be the time when he became the top star of the brand. On the flip side, Chris Benoit had been sent over to ECW to serve as the steady veteran of the brand and when it was announced he would face Punk for the title here, I’m sure many got excited because they would put on great matches and Benoit would eventually put Punk over though sadly, we would never know what would end up happening.
On the 6/5 ECW, Punk defeated Matt Striker and on the 6/8 Smackdown, Benoit would wrestle what ended up being his last match on Smackdown as he lost to Edge. On the 6/11 RAW, the WWE held the Draft and Punk would defeat Carlito to earn a draft pick for ECW which was the Boogeyman, and Bobby Lashley would defeat Benoit to earn another pick for ECW which was Benoit himself. Later in the night, Lashley would be drafted to RAW and as a result, he would be forced to relinquish the ECW Championship, and on the 6/12 ECW Punk and Benoit would defeat the New Breed by DQ as it was announced a mini tournament would be held to determine who would fight at Vengeance for the vacant title. On the 6/19 ECW, Benoit would defeat Elijah Burke and Punk would defeat Marcus Cor Von to advance to this night as the two would have a staredown and shook hands out of respect. Again, the anticipation for this match was pretty high as it would be a great feud to build up Punk as a top guy while giving Benoit one last run as the top star of a brand.
Right before the match, it was announced that Benoit would not appear due to a “family emergency” and as a result, he would be replaced by Johnny Nitro who had been sent to ECW in the supplemental draft and he had solid heat as a heel while Punk got a good pop from the crowd. The two men lock up to start with Punk taking Nitro to the mat as he hooks a front facelock and Nitro escapes with an armdrag, and Punk kicks at Nitro’s leg repeatedly before kicking him in the head as Nitro rolls outside to regroup. Nitro gets on the apron and slaps Punk in the face as Punk goes outside and chases Nitro back into the ring, and he trips Nitro up and hits a slingshot splash before whipping him hard into the corner and he slaps him in the face. Nitro reverses a whip into the corner and he hits a springboard spin kick on Punk for a two count, and he pounds on Punk on the mat for a two count and hooks a submission on as Punk fights to his feet and breaks the hold only for Nitro to hit a short clothesline for a two count. He kicks at Punk and works on the arm before hitting a snapmare and he hooks another submission on, and Punk fights to his feet and fights his way out of the hold only for Nitro to catch him with a pair of boots to the face. He hits a modified backbreaker on Punk and then he hits an armbreaker for a two count before hooking another submission on, and Punk fights to his feet and breaks the hold before ducking a shot and he hits an enzurgiri on Nitro. They trade blows with Punk taking control as he hits a spin kick and kicks Nitro to the mat before hitting a pair of clotheslines, and he hits a side dropkick on Nitro for a two count and whips him into the corner only for Nitro to catch him with a back elbow. He trips Punk up and uses the ropes for leverage for a two count only for the ref to catch him and Punk escapes a hold, and he goes behind Nitro and hits a clothesline for a two count before hoisting him up only for Nitro to escape the Go to Sleep with a series of back elbows. He attempts a sunset flip only for Punk to sit on top of him for a two count and he rams the knee into him twice, and he whips Nitro into the corner and hits a running knee before hitting the running bulldog on Nitro. He goes out to the apron only to miss the springboard clothesline as he rolls out to the apron again and he gets a shoulder in, but Nitro catches him with a knee to the head and he drapes Punk on the ropes before hitting a modified neckbreaker which gets the three and we have a new champion.
The match itself was decent as both men worked hard and put on a fairly solid title match considering everything going on surrounding the match. It was very clear the crowd was disappointed that Benoit was not there even though they had no idea what was going on and Nitro seemed like a left field choice to put in here though it wasn’t his fault. Add into the fact that now everyone maybe just assumed that Punk would win the title and instead he didn’t, and it was just a perfect storm of a match that could’ve been so much better but it just felt flat though again I don’t blame either guy for that. I think they should’ve picked someone other than Nitro to make it better like Marcus Cor Von or even Elijah Burke since they had been feuding with Punk, but maybe this will lead to a good feud between Punk and Nitro which will build to Punk eventually winning the title. They did have some decent chemistry though you could tell they were a bit off which again wasn’t their fault and it seemed like they just needed more time to get their chemistry down. The crowd was in and out of it for the match though they were solidly behind Punk, but they are not happy when Nitro wins. Nitro gets the win over Punk and is the surprising new ECW Champion though this issue isn’t over yet.
Final Grade: **1/2