CM Punk wins WWE Intercontinental Title in Hometown of Chicago

‘On This Day’ is a commemorative article series. It is dedicated to specific events, matches, and occurrences in wrestling history. We revisit those key moments and look back at how they went down and what they meant to the wrestling industry. On January 19th, 200, a match captured the attention of the WWE audience. CM Punk wins WWE Intercontinental Title in Hometown of Chicago is that match and moment.

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Everyone knows the CM Punk is a hometown hero in Chicago, IL. In 2011 he won the WWE Championship in Chicago at Money In The Bank when he defeated John Cena.  However, wrestling fans forget that he also won the WWE Intercontinental Championship on January 19, 2009, in the Windy City on Raw. At that point in his career, CM Punk was just getting started in WWE. He was a part of the ECW brand and was gaining fans every week with his straight-edge style.  He was a former ECW champion as well. Punk’s one goal in life was to be WWE Champion.

Intercontinental Championship Match: CM Punk vs. William Regal | WWE
Photo / WWE

To accomplish that, he needed a pivotal win. He needed to capture the Intercontinental Championship.  For years the intercontinental title was the stepping stone a superstar needed to reach the top of the mountain. Past Intercontinental champions that went on to become WWE Champion included Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, HHH, Edge, and Randy Orton.  However, CM Punks road to the intercontinental was not easy. He had to defeat the current titleholder, William Regal.

CM Punk wins WWE Intercontinental Title in Hometown of Chicago.
Third Times the Charm 

On December 14, 2008, at Armageddon, CM Punk defeated Rey Mysterio in a number one contenders match for the intercontinental title. The Master of the 619 was determined to win, but on that night, Punk had his number. He defeated Mysterio with a fireman’s carry into a knee facebuster called the GTS, aka Go To Sleep. CM Punk was on his way to the top of the mountain. However, due to the craftiness of William Regal, what was supposed to be one match turned into three. The first time the two squared off,  Regal grabbed the referee when Punk set him up for the GTS, causing a disqualification.

In the second confrontation, Punk “questionably” threw an illegal punch at Regal, causing the referee to disqualify him. In both instances, William Regal still walked away from the champion because titles do not change hands on a DQ. Raw General Manager Stephanie McMahon Helmsley saw through Regal’s shenanigans and granted Punk another match in his hometown of Chicago, IL. 

Intercontinental Champion CM Punk & Mickie James vs. William Regal & Layla  | WWE
Photo / WWE

Chicago Made Champion        

On January 19, 2009, CM Punk finally got his opportunity. William Regal and Layla were waiting in the ring. When Punk was introduced, the crowd went crazy. He walked to the ring, wearing a Chicago flag draped across his shoulders.  The Chicago Made Punk was ready to win the intercontinental title. At the beginning of the match, Punk caught Regal off guard with a few kicks but only got a few two counts. William Regal, being the ring general that he is, lured Punk to the outside of the ring, where he attempted to shatter punk’s arm against the ring post, but punk moved, and Regal’s shoulder crashed into it instead.

He rolled the champion back into the ring and immediately began working on the shoulder. Punk hit a few suplexes and trapped Regal in a Fujiwara armbar, further weakening the shoulder. Knowing where he was at all times in the ring was a trademark of Regal, and he grabbed the ropes, causing the break. At that moment, Layla, who was ringside distracted Punk long enough for William Regal to take advantage. The champion began to attack the challenger’s neck. Regal used several variations of Half Nelson submissions, but CM Punk wouldn’t quit. 

He fought his way back up to his feet with the Chicago crowd rallying behind him. He caught Regal with a roundhouse kick but still could only get a two count. Layla once again got involved. Regal grabbed Punk and drove him into the mat with a full nelson slam. Sensing that Punk was finished, he backed punk into the turnbuckle and positioned him for a superplex. Punk fought his way out, causing the champion to tumble to the mat. Punk went for a crossbody but missed. However, he caught himself, so there was minimal damage. 

CM Punk grabbed William Regal in the Fireman’s carry. This was his moment. Punk hit the GTS on Regal and pinned him to win the Intercontinental Championship. 

CM Punks wins WWE Intercontinental Title
Photo / WWE

CM Punk wins WWE Intercontinental Title in Hometown of Chicago.
The Chicago Made Punk just became a Chicago Made Champion.

CM Punk went on to defend the Intercontinental Title against all challengers, including William Regal. He defeated all opponents until losing the title to John Bradshaw Layfield, aka JBL, on March 9, 2009. Even though he lost the Intercontinental title, the win did indeed propel him to the top of the WWE. CM punk became WWE Champion twice, World Heavy Weight Champion three times, tag team champion, and A two time Money In The Bank winner.