AEW’s been building to CM Punk vs. Maxwell Jacob Friedman since Full Gear, and the seeds were planted even further in both men’s past. That’s probably why the match was given 45 minutes as the main event of the Feb. 2 Dynamite in Punk’s beloved Chicago.
The match started slowly. It was all Punk at the start, but once he missed a move to the outside that “injured” his left arm, MJF used his wrist tape to choke out the veteran.
When referee Bryce Remsburg called for the bell, it looked like Max’s improvised garrote did the job. But while Friedman was celebrating handing Punk his first loss in AEW, Remsburg saw the weapon and re-started the match.
In the second half, another dive left Punk with a bad knee to go with his bad arm.
It ramped up the selling and storytelling in a match that was already heavy on it. It also left the Second City crowd a little unsure how to react — at one point a “Deep Dish Pizza” chant broke out. Business picked up when Punk broke out the Pepsi Plunge for the first time in years...
A follow-up elbow drop looked like the end, but Friedman kicked out. MJF also flopped to the floor to avoid the GTS. And that brought out Maxwell’s hired hand, Wardlow. The big man seemed like an unwilling participant in The Pinnacle’s beatdown of Punk last Wednesday, and he didn’t do anything to him this week.
Except pass the Dynamite Diamond Ring to MJF, and distract Punk and Remsburg long enough him to use it. A shot with that, and the Best in the World was no longer undefeated.
.@RealWardlow's intentions were seemingly ambiguous, but @The_MJF has taken advantage of the situation and knocked out @CMPunk in front of a stunned crowd and takes the victory here in Chicago on #AEWDynamite on @TBSNetwork! pic.twitter.com/YR2QLVjuFb— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) February 3, 2022
WHY WARDLOW WHY?
Get complete results and coverage of everything that happened on tonight’s Dynamite‘s here.