HOUSTON – Even a cocky A-lister like Johnny Nitro couldn’t stop the tears from streaming down his face.

The silence echoed from rafters in the Toyota Center. Our fans couldn’t believe their eyes. And it seemed Nitro himself couldn’t believe his eyes as he looked at his newly-won ECW World Title and held it aloft for all the fans and the fallen CM Punk to see.

When he woke up Sunday morning, Nitro wasn’t even a part of the match for the vacated ECW World Title.

Nitro, who had just been drafted to ECW as part of the Supplemental Draft on WWE.com a week ago and only made his in-ring debut in the Land of the Extreme last Tuesday, jumped at the opportunity to win the ECW World Title.

Both Nitro and Punk did not have any time to prepare for each other. Nitro had not anticipated competing at Vengeance: Night of Champions. However, the two young Superstars waged war against each other.

The Straightedge Superstar kept Nitro off-balance for much of their war and seemed on the verge of winning the ECW World Title several times. But a miscue by Punk off the top rope – and perhaps Nitro’s more extensive experience in championship matches – proved to be the deciding factor. A modified swinging hangman’s noose neckbreaker off the middle rope stunned Punk – and all of the Land of the Extreme – and Nitro had his first singles world title.

For Punk, the loss had to be devastating. This was his first opportunity at the ECW World Title in a one-on-one match (he had received his only other opportunity at December to Dismember in the Extreme Elimination Chamber with five other warriors). Like Nitro, he has been touted as a future great Superstar and world champion, and Sunday was supposed to be his night. The pain he felt after falling to Nitro was more than skin-deep.

Nitro’s title victory was amazing considering where his career was one week ago. His career seemed stalled on Raw. He was a multiple former WWE Tag Team Champion and Intercontinental Champion, and touted as a future great Superstar. But key losses in recent months had placed his career on a treadmill. Then, Nitro was drafted to ECW in the Supplemental Draft on WWE.com and he had a new opportunity to get his career on track.

Now, Nitro is the new ECW World Champion. Nitro revelled in his victory – and he wasn’t surprised by his victory. At least not openly.

“You know, I don’t think luck had anything to do with it,” Nitro said after the match. “ECW needed a go-to-guy, and let’s face it, I’ve been the top talent on every brand I’ve been on – Raw, SmackDown and ECW. CM Punk? He’s in good shape, but not in my kind of shape.”

Nitro showed no respect for the heritage of ECW – especially the original ECW.

“People get a little tired of the old ECW flavor. What you saw tonight was a dose of peanut butter and Johnny. What you saw was the dawning of the new era of peanut butter and Johnny.”

So, ECW has been put on notice. A new era in the Land of the Extreme has begun.