Reliving A Title Run: CM Punk’s reign as ROH World Heavyweight Champion in 2005
Ring of Honor has had only fifteen World Champions since the promotion debuted in February 2002. The champions include Low Ki, Samoa Joe, Austin Aries, Daniel Bryan (Brian Danielson), Homicide, Takeshi Morishima, Nigel McGuiness, Jerry Lynn, Tyler Black, Roderick Strong, Eddie Edwards, and Davey Richards.
All of those guys have gone on to be quite successful wrestlers in the business. Low Ki worked for TNA for several years where he won the X-Division Championship on a few occasions and won a season of NXT in the WWE. Austin Aries is currently competing in TNA as the X-Division Champion, and Daniel Bryan is the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
But, there is one guy who has achieved the greatest success. That one man is CM Punk. Punk is the current WWE Champion and is becoming more popular as the days go by. Not a lot of WWE fans know what ROH is or that CM Punk competed for them. I figured a look back at Punk’s ROH World Champion run will be a good one to start off. So, let’s revisit it, shall we?
It was June 18th, 2005 from Morrisville, NJ. CM Punk had competed in numerous ROH World Championship matches prior to this night, but he had been unable to realize his dream of winning the most important championship in ROH. After this night, CM Punk would be off to the WWE. He had one last opportunity to win the ROH World Championship from Austin Aries. Would CM Punk be able to go out on a happy note with a ROH World Championship victory?
After thirty minutes of incredible wrestling, CM Punk was able to pin Austin Aries after hitting the Pepsi Plunge (a top rope pedigree). After the match, the babyface Punk took the microphone and proceeded to turn heel telling the fans that he was leaving with the championship and going to WWE as an undefeated champion. Christopher Daniels made his return to ROH and chased Punk from the ring. Punk closed the show by leaving through the crowd.
On July 8th, 2005 the new ROH World Champion appeared at Sign of Dishonor in Lake Grove, NY. Punk is a new man at this point. He came out with a new haircut and was wearing a suite. He told the fans that he built ROH and no one respected him. Instead, they wanted guys like Christopher Daniels to comeback to the promotion. Punk felt like slapping them all in the face and signed his WWE contract right in the ring on the ROH World Championship! James Gibson and Christopher Daniels run out to attack Punk, who is able to escape through the crowd.
Later on in the show, Mick Foley appeared and told Punk that he needed to do the right thing. Foley is able to pressure Punk into defending the championship against a young talent, named Jay Lethal. Lethal gave it all he had but Punk was able to retain the championship by choking Lethal out and is on his way to the WWE with the championship in hand.
The next night on July 9th, 2005 at Escape From New York, Mick Foley threatened to toss Punk off a balcony if he didn’t make a match with Roderick Strong a title match. It worked, and the title was on the line. After twenty five minutes, Punk was able to steal a victory from Strong with a roll up. After the match, Samoa Joe, Mick Foley and James Gibson trapped Punk from leaving and Gibson challenged Punk to a title match in Connecticut.
James Gibson got his shot against CM Punk on July 16th, 2005. Gibson is all about protecting the ROH World Championship from going to the WWE. Before their match, Punk attacked Gibson with a chain to weaken his opponent before their big title match. Punk was able to roll Gibson up and used the ropes for leverage yet again to retain the title in a match that had plenty of emotion and was one of the best title defenses in ROH history. But, Punk wouldn’t leave with the championship. No, instead it would be Christopher Daniels. Daniels came out and attacked Punk and left with the championship. This would set up Punk defending the ROH World Championship against Christopher Daniels in Philadelphia, PA.
July 23rd, 2005 in Philadelphia, PA it is time for Christopher Daniels to challenge ROH World Champion CM Punk. Daniels is the last guy to prevent Punk from leaving the company with the championship. These two battled for one whole hour with neither man being able to earn a pin fall or submission victory. Yes, CM Punk escaped with the championship yet again. Was the championship really going to WWE?
August 12th, 2005 saw ROH World Champion CM Punk defend the championship against Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels and James Gibson in an elimination match. It is the ultimate match to see if Punk can really be able to leave ROH with the championship and do god knows what in the WWE with it. Punk was involved in eliminating both Daniels and Joe from the match. He also hit Gibson with a chair that seemingly disabled him from competing in the rest of the match. Punk thought he had done it, but Gibson ended up returning to the match and was able to pin Punk following a super Tiger Bomb to win the title and prevent Punk from bringing the championship to the WWE with him.
Punk does the right thing and after Gibson does a little speech, he hugs Gibson. The perfect ending to the greatest ROH World Championship reign in ROH history.
Yes, the reign may have less than two months long, but the story behind it make it the most memorable angle to have ever taken place in ROH. Every single match that happened during the title reign delivered and never left the fans disappointed. In my opinion, this is the best work that Gabe Sapolsky has ever put together. I suggest that anyone who hasn’t watched the feud should find the events and enjoy everything. It needs to be seen by every wrestling fan.
Thanks for reading.
— Bob Colling