The match was planned to take place in 2007, and would’ve been the biggest match of CM Punk’s career at that point.
It also could have been the start of a late-career renaissance for Benoit, who was being positioned as a main-event star on the ECW brand.
Unfortunately, due to horrific events that weekend, CM Punk vs Chris Benoit never took place. Here’s the full story.
CM Punk vs Chris Benoit
WWE planned to have Benoit wrestling Punk at their July 2007 pay per view “Vengeance”, with the Extreme Championship Wrestling Championship on the line.
Both men advanced to the final of a tournament to earn the title shot, which was to be the first time they faced off one-on-one in their career.
Sadly, that match never came to be.
The ECW Championship Tournament
In the lead up to Vengeance 2007, WWE put on the ECW Championship Tournament 2007. The tournament was a four man bracket to decide the next ECW Champion, and the fifth since the company reinstated the title in 2006.
The ECW Championship had been vacated by Bobby Lashley, who won the championship from Vince McMahon at One Night Stand 2007 in a handicap match, also featuring Shane McMahon and Umaga.
McMahon and Lashley had been feuding since Lashley was chosen as Donald Trump’s representative in the Wrestlemania 23 “Battle of the Billionaires”. In the match, Bobby Lashley defeated Umaga, forcing Vince McMahon to have his head shaved bald.
This led to a feud between McMahon and Lashley over Lashley’s ECW Championship. At Backlash 2007, McMahon pinned Lashley with the help of Shane McMahon and Umaga in a 3 on 1 handicap match to win the ECW Championship.
It was the second title reign of McMahon’s career (being a former WWE Champion), and it made him the oldest ECW Champion of all time at 62 years of age.
McMahon soon lost the championship back to Lashley, but forced the star to vacate the belt after Bobby Lashley was drafted to Raw.
This left ECW without a champion, so a four-man tournament was set up to crown the newest ECW Champion.
Those four men were:
- Chris Benoit
- CM Punk
- Elijah Burke
- Marcus Cor Von
The four men competed in the ECW Championship Tournament 2007, for the chance to become the next ECW Champion.
Run Up To The Final
The road to CM Punk vs Chris Benoit was a short one.
The tournament only involved four men, so only three matches actually took place.
The first was Chris Benoit vs Elijah Burke, a decent match which ended in victory for Benoit with The Sharpshooter.
Meanwhile, Punk beat Marcus Cor Von in a bout that was nothing to write home about. He beat the former Monty Brown with the GTS, setting up a clash with Chris Benoit at Vengeance 2007.
This was to crown a new ECW Champion, with both men clamoring for their first reign with the belt.
Chris Benoit Missed The CM Punk Match
CM Punk vs Chris Benoit was supposed to take place at Vengeance 2007, in the final match of the tournament.
The plan was to book Chris Benoit as the winner, winning the ECW Championship for the first time in his career.
Sadly, Benoit called in sick to the pay per view, claiming his family was unwell and that he had to take care of them.
This was a lie. That weekend, Chris Benoit murdered his son and his wife, before hanging himself in his gargae gym.
The bodies were not discovered until Monday morning, the day after the pay per view.
Because Benoit could not attend, he was replaced by Johnny Nitro (later John Morrison) in the final to take on CM Punk.
Johnny Nitro defeated CM Punk with a corkscrew neckbreaker to win the vacant ECW Championship.
It was his second singles championship in the WWE, and his first ECW Championship reign.
The reign would not last long, as CM Punk won the belt 69 days later, avenging the loss that should have been against Chris Benoit.
CM Punk vs Chris Benoit never happened, although he did hug Benoit’s son David during the taping of AEW Collision, after his victory over Samoa Joe.