While Punk is still a couple of months off of holding the strap for a year he's the first contender for that particular honour for quite some time. The last man to have a reign lasting longer than 365 days was John Cena (you may have heard of him), capturing the gold on September 17th 2006 and holding it for 380 days until vacating it on October 2nd 2007.
There's a reason WWE has recently started directing Michael Cole to mention these sort of facts regarding Punk's championship run. They realise that long reigns make the belt more prestigious, elevating the wearer and the company by association.
There's also a reason I'm channelling Cole here. I've realised that if Punk can hold onto the WWE championship until January 1st 2013 he will become the first man to hold the title throughout a calendar year in over two decades. The last man to start and end a year as the WWE champ was Hulk Hogan during his original title run from January 23rd 1984 to February 5th 1988.
How long can Punk keep hold of the WWE championship?
The likelihood of Punk repeating Hogan’s feat seems pretty good at this point. Several things that have been said and done since RAW 1000 indicate that ‘The Second City Saint’ will clash with The Rock at the Royal Rumble. It’s possible that Punk could lose and regain the belt between now and the Rumble but it’s not very likely.
Punk v Rock seems like the way WWE will go at the Rumble. Keeping the belt on the man from Chicago until then will build the belt’s prestige and solidify his spot as one of the company’s top all-time performers. Having Punk overcome every challenger and finally lose the gold to a man of ‘The Brahma Bull’s’ calibre would help to portray him as a bigger name too.
I would love to see CM Punk keep hold of the title into 2013. So few people get to have credible, long reigns these days, especially in WWE, and it can really help a performer’s legacy. Punk deserves the accolade of being the first man since Hogan to hold the title for an entire year.
It’s probably a bit soon to be thinking about Punk breaking Bruno Sammartino’s 2,803 day (eight year) reign though. Probably best to assume that’ll never happen.