Back this week is The Shooter, after going AWOL before WrestleMania week The Shooter has stopped marking out and is back to business. The last of the Yesterday’s Indy Stars, Today’s Main Stars kicks of today and ends when you read it.
Today we will be having a look back at CM Punk’s time on the indy circuit, but mainly at his time in ROH! As we all know Punk and Bryan Danielson where two of the men that worked tirelessly to make ROH as big as it is today. So without any further delay let’s go!
Punk’s first taste of wrestling was a short stint in a Backyard wrestling group called Lunatic Wrestling Federation along with his friends in the mid-late 1990s. He first started using the ring name of CM Punk when he was put into a tag team named Chick Magnets (one of the many meanings of CM) with CM Venom, this match came about after another performer skipped the card. Unlike most of his friends Punk really desired to be a wrestler, a professional wrestler and saw it as more than just some fun. When the promotion started taking off, doing shows in a warehouse in Mokena in Illinois as well as high school gyms in suburban Cook County. He would soon leave the federation and enrolled as a student at the Steel Dominion wrestling school in Chicago where he was trained by Ace Steel, Danny Dominion and Kevin Quinn to fulfil his wishes of becoming a pro. As part of the training Punk would travel to St Paul, Minnesota to wrestle in Steel Domain Wrestling. It was here that Punk would meet life-long friend and highly publicised Bromance pal Scott Colton a.k.a Colt Cabana! The pair spent their early career together working in the same promotions, both as opponents and allies. In the independent scene Punk, Cabana, Chuckee Smooth and Adam Pearce – all Steel Domain graduates – would go on to form the Gold Bond Mafia.
Punk would wrestle in Mid-South (IWA). During his time in IWA: Mid-South he had high profiled feuds with Colt Cabana and Chris Hero (now known as Kassius Ohno… OH NO, from FCW) while also rising to the top winning the IWA Mid-South Light Heavyweight Championship twice and the IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Championship on five separate occasions beating high profile stars like A.J. Styles, Cabana and Eddie Guerrero. Punk’s feud with Kassius Ohno… OH NO would include a 55 minute TLC match, a 93 minute two out of three falls match and several 60 minute time limit draws.
It would be Punk’s matches with Colt Cabana that led to him being hired by Ring of Honor. From February 2003 until May 2004 Punk refused to wrestle for IWA because he was protesting against Ian Rotten’s mistreatment of Chris Hero (Kassius Ohno… OH NO!). Hero has since then stated that he believes there were several of reasons behind Punk’s refusal to wrestle and that Rotten’s treatment of him was just an excuse by Punk to stop working for IWA. Punk would since then return to IWA until 2005 when he was signed to WWE. His last IWA appearance included a 60 minute time limit draw against Delirious.
When Punk joined ROH he was considered a crowd favourite but was quick in transitioning into a villain in a feud with Raven that featured numbers variants of no DQ matches. Their rivalry would last most of 2003 and was considered as one of their top feuds of that year. The rivalry was based around Punk’s straight edge lifestyle with him likening Raven to his alcoholic father. COUGH-Chris Jericho-COUGH!!! Their rivalry would be settled at The Conclusion in November 2003 where Punk defeated Raven in a steel cage match. Around this time Punk had joined NWA: Total Nonstop Action a.k.a TNA where he was paired with Julio Dinero as MEMBERS of Raven’s TNA alliance The Gathering.
Punk soon began climbing the ranks of ROH, coming second at the Second Anniversary show where he lost in the final to A.J Styles who became the first ever ROH Pure Champion. He would go on to win the tag titles twice with Cabana as the Second City Saints. Both times the Second City Saints beat the Briscoe Brothers to win the championship. In October of 2003 Punk was hired as the first head trainer of the Ring of Honor wrestling school having previously been a trainer in Steel Domain and Primetime Wrestling.
In February of 2004, shortly before a TNA show Punk had a physical scuffle with Teddy Hart outside of a restaurant that was quickly broken up by Sabu. The scuffle reportedly stemmed from a ROH show in which Hart performed three unplanned spots putting several other wrestlers in danger of occurring an injury. Around the time of the altercation Punk and Dinero stopped appearing on TNA shows leading to speculations that they were fired for the incident. However, Punk has stated that the scuffle had no effect on his TNA career. The reason for them stopping appearing was due to the TNA officials believing that he and Dinero had not connected with the fans as villains, having turned against the fan favourite Raven and forming a villainous tag team. The storyline was put on hold and Punk quit the company in March of 2004 during the time of controversy when Rob Feinstein was caught in an internet sting set to catch sexual predators. Punk’s reason for quitting TNA was due to the TNA offices deciding that contracted wrestlers were no longer allowed to wrestle in ROH as well.
IN ROH Punk faced off against World Champ Samoa Joe for the title in a three match series, the first match on June 12th 2004 at World Title Classic in Ohio resulted in a 60 minute time limit draw when neither Punk nor Joe could pin or cause the other to submit. The second match between Punk and Joe was planned for December 4th 2004 however, Steve Corino was pulled from a match with Joe by Pro Wrestling Zero-One which meant the match had to be hastily rescheduled on October 11th in Punk’s hometown of Chicago! At Joe vs Punk 2 on October 16th they wrestled to another 60 minute time limit draw. This match not only became ROH’s best selling DVD at the time but also received a five-star rating by Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter. This was the first match in North America to receive a 5 star rating in 7 years, the last one being a Hell in a Cell match between HBK and Undertaker at Badd Blood in 1997. Joe ended the series when he beat Punk in the 3rd and final match on December 4th 2004 at All-Star Extravaganza 2 in which there was no time limit stipulation.
In June 2005, Punk accepted a deal with WWE after a try-out match against Val Venis on its Sunday Night Heat show. Even though he had accepted the WWE contract Punk would go on to defeat Austin Aries with the Pepsi Plunge, winning the ROH World Championship on June 18th at Death Before Dishonor 3. Immediately after the match Punk became a villain and started a storyline where he threatened to bring the ROH World Championship to WWE, teasing the locker room and fans as well as mocking the title by signing the WWE contract on it. Mick Foley made several appearances for ROH where he tried to convince Punk that defending the title on his way out was the right thing to do. On August 12th Punk lost the title in a four corner elimination match consisting of himself, James Gibson (who won the match), Samao Joe and Christopher Daniels. Punk’s final scheduled match in ROH took place at Punk: The Final Chapter on August 13th against long-time friend Colt Cabana in a two out of three falls match which he lost. In his last match Punk was visibly crying and was showered with streamers when posing in the middle of the ring.
However, Punk would make a special appearance at the ROH show Unscripted 2 on February 11th. Punk teamed with Bryan Danielson to defeat Jimmy Rave and Adam Pearce in a tag match.
Sorry for the somewhat short article this week, I had forgotten it was my day to write & had to rush it before leaving the house for the rest of the week! As you can see Punk has had a great career prior to WWE and has went on to even greater things since. His history with ROH is one that will always be remembered and one that is highly decorated!
To get discussion going, comment below or drop me a few lines on twitter if you so wish! My Twitter handle is @Razor_WWE94 and I will be on hand there for the rest of the week to fill your boots with wrestling talk. Till next week, I bid you a great Easter and hope you stayed tuned next week for more wrestling talk.