HeadLocker — Jay Shannon
OWW Wrestler of the Week: CM Punk
Our resident philosopher profiles the new World Champion, C.M. Punk. Punk cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase to upend Jeff Hardy, who had just defeated Edge, at Extreme Rules.
Four titles changed hands at Extreme Rules 2009. The World, WWE, ECW and Intercontinental titles all moved to new owners. All four men deserved the OWW Wrestler of the Week award, but when it came down to choosing one, I looked at which man made the biggest buzz. Punk defeated Umaga in a brutal Samoan Strap Match, only to return to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase to take the World title away from new champion, Jeff Hardy. With a nod of respect to Tommy Dreamer, Batista and Chris Jericho, I award this week’s OWW Wrestler of the Week award to the new World champion, C.M. Punk.
Phil Brooks grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. He started out in the dangerous world of Backyard Wrestling. That was where his ring name was created. Ever wonder what the C.M. stands for? According to various bios, Punk formed a tag team with another C.M., C.M. Venom. The C.M. stood for Chick Magnet. Miz’s use of the nickname, Chick Magnet, actually came from Punk.
After a brief run in Backyard Wrestling, Punk decided to pursue a legitimate wrestling career. He wisely choose to enroll in a respected and honorable wrestling school, The Steel Domain wrestling school (run by veteran grappler, Ace Steel). Ace liked the whole Punk identity and suggested that Punk run with it. Punk agreed.
Punk was part of a top-notch training class that also included former NWA World Champion, Adam “Scrap Iron” Pearce, and Colt Cabana. Punk would battle with and against both of his classmates during their run in the indies. Punk and Cabana also formed a successful tag unit that would later be known as the Second City Saints (Second City is a nickname for Chicago). That unit would re-unite, from time to time, in the various organizations that the two men worked for. Punk has the unique distinction of never changing his identity in any organization that he has ever worked for.
The primary home for Punk in his early years with IWA Mid-South. He held the Heavyweight title on five occasions. He also held the Light Heavyweight title, twice. It was in IWA Mid-South that Punk became friends with Eddie Guerrero. Guerrero helped to mold Punk into the super-star that he is today. Punk also got a great deal of training from another young star, Chris Hero. The two had some of the most amazing matches, including a 93 minute 2 out of 3 Falls match.
ROH & TNA
In 2003, Punk found himself in a rather odd situation. He worked for Ring of Honor, where he had a vicious feud with Raven. At the same time, Punk joined Raven’s squad (The Gathering) in TNA. Punk’s run in TNA came to a sudden stop after a non-wrestling altercation with Teddy Hart. Sabu had to break up a fight, after Punk took exception to Hart’s carelessness in the ring. Hart had performed several unscripted stunts that put several wrestlers in danger of being legitimately injured. It is speculated that Punk was fired from TNA, but that has never been confirmed.
Punk focused solely on his Ring of Honor career. He would face top stars, including A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels and the Briscoe Brothers. Punk also was hired as the first R-O-H trainer. Punk’s dedication to the sport impressed the management of Ring of Honor and they hoped Punk would pass that dedication to his students. Their faith was rewarded far beyond their wildest dreams. Punk held the World, Pure Wrestling and Tag titles during his tenure with the company. Eventually, Punk was approached about taking the next step in his career.
Punk made his debut in OVW on September 26,2005. His first match wasn’t a pleasant experience. A extremely stiff right hand from Danny Inferno ruptured Punk’s eardrum and broke his nose. Punk finished the match and took a short break to recover.
On his return, Punk beat Ken Doane (Kenny Dykstra) for the OVW Television title. Punk would also win the OVW Heavyweight title, following Matt Cappotelli’s retirement, due to a brain tumor. Punk also made an appearance at Wrestlemania 22 as one of the gangster’s that worked the John Cena entrance.
After a successful near-year in OVW, Punk was called up to help elevate the ailing ECW brand. He immediately bonded with the fans. His first ECW match was in the Alhambra/Viking Hall, formerly known as the ECW Arena. He battled ECW Original, Stevie Richards. On July 4, 2006, Punk began a series of vignettes that described his Straight-Edge lifestyle. Punk’s early matches had him facing off against numerous ECW Originals, including Richards, C(hristopher) W Anderson, and Justin Credible.
Punk feuded with numerous stars through the rest of 2006 and the early part of 2007. Tragedy would open the door from Punk. Chris Benoit was drafted to ECW in the 2007 Draft. Bobby Lashley, the then-ECW champion, was sent to Raw. The ECW title was vacated. That set a match between Chris Benoit and Punk for the titles at the 2007 edition of Vengeance/Night of the Champions. When Benoit no-showed (due to the murder/suicide of himself and his family), Punk was placed in a match against John (Nitro) Morrison. Punk didn’t win the match, but his ability to adjust to the change impressed the Powers-that-Be. Punk was immediately pushed into the top spot on the show.
On the September 4th edition of ECW (taped on 9/1), Punk was placed into a Last Chance match against Morrison. If Punk didn’t win, he would never get another shot at the ECW title. He made the most of the opportunity and took the title. Punk would hold the title until January 22, 2008, when Edge would assist Chavo Guerrero in a No-Disqualification to take the title from Punk.
Punk would rebound from the loss to take the Money-in-the-Bank match at Wrestlemania 24. It seemed that Punk would use the guaranteed title shot to reclaim his ECW title. The 2008 Draft changed Punk’s focus.
C.M. Punk was sent to Raw, thanks to the Draft. At the 2008 edition of Night of Champions, both Batista and Edge retained their titles. That left Raw without a top title. Edge appeared on Raw to ridicule Jim Ross about his Farewell Address from his home state of Oklahoma. After Edge had his associates (Ryder & Hawkins) remove JR, Edge cut a taunting promo where he mentioned that no one on Raw would be able to fight for the World title.
Batista came out and completely trashed Edge. Batista beat on Edge around ringside and then threw the Rated R Superstar in the ring. Batista finished off Edge with a Batista Bomb. C.M. Punk took advantage of the devastation and cashed in his Money-in-the-Bank opportunity. Punk lifted a nearly-lifeless Edge up into the Fireman’s Carry and delivered his signature G-T-S (Go To Sleep) move to take the World title. Later in the evening, JBL tried to humiliate and antagonize the new champ. JBL challenged Punk to a match, which Punk quickly accepted. Punk would take advantage of a distracted JBL to nail the G-T-S for a second time in one night. Punk walked out of Oklahoma with his title intact.
Punk’s title reign came to an end on September 7, 2008, thanks to a mugging-like attack by the members of Legacy (Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase, Jr. and Randy Orton). Punk had to forfeit his title, which was won by Chris Jericho. Punk. Punk rebounded from the devastating loss of his title to exact revenge of two of his three attackers. Punk called on friend and former ECW competitor, Kofi Kingston, to form a successful tag team. They took the World Tag Titles from the Legacy members on October 27, 2008. The duo would drop the tag belts at a house show on December 13, 2008.
Punk would rebound, the following night, to defeat Rey Mysterio to become number one contender to the Intercontinental championship. Punk fought William Regal, the title holder, in several controversial battles. Regal did everything possible to keep his title but would finally drop the strap to Punk on January 19, 2009, in a No Disqualification match. With that win, Punk took the record for fastest winning of the three major titles on a given show (World, I-C, Tag). Punk would drop the title, just prior to Wrestlemania 25.
At Wrestlemania 25, Punk bested Kane to take his second, straight Money in the Bank win. He teased cashing in the briefcase, that night, but passed. Punk was drafted over to Smackdown as part of the 2009 Draft. Punk’s first major feud on the Blue Brand came at the hands of the returning Umaga. The Samoan Bulldozer broke character to actually challenge Punk, speaking fluent English (which he was allegedly unable to do, previously). The two had several vicious encounters prior to Extreme Rules. At the all-Extreme PPV, Umaga challenged Punk to a Samoan Strap Match (a Texas Bullrope Match where the winner had to touch all four turnbuckles). Punk won the match and then sat back to watch the Smackdown main event.
Edge and Jeff Hardy battled for the World title in a nasty Ladder match. Jeff took the win and the title. Punk then chose to cash in his Money in the Bank title shot against the new champion. punk easily defeated the exhausted Jeff Hardy to win his second World title.
C.M. Punk was one of four new title holders after Extreme Rules. In less than one year, Punk has won the World title (twice), the Intercontinental title, and the World tag team title. It can be argued that Punk is the most successful star of his era. Punk doesn’t fit the look of a superstar, yet he continued to succeed. Despite his small size, Punk has been able to defeat men twice his size. Punk is a lock for a future Hall of Fame spot. This week, he gets to be the new World champion and the OWW Wrestler of the Week
– Jay Shannon