When CM Punk first went on WWE television two years ago, he was a relative newcomer to the wrestling world, but not to independent wrestling fans. Big Vision Entertainment shows why he came to WWE with a reputation as a solid performer with Before They Were Stars: CM Punk, a definite treat.
This two-hour DVD is chock-full of some of Punk’s best from Ring of Honor and Full Impact Pro. Yeah, the general population gets to see his watered-down style on WWE TV each week, but to see what made WWE notice him in the first place is downright awesome. Blonde hair, too, and as a bad-ass heel as the leader of The New Dawn with Joshua Masters. Punk actually could pass for a poor man’s Raven.
The first match is from FIP’s Emergence Night weekend event the weekend of Sept. 24, 2004 and it’s Punk taking on Vordell Walker.
There looks to be 50 people in a high school gym or a darkened warehouse. This is evidently a first-round match for the FIP title. Punk is a monster heel here and plays the role very well, including chirping the ref every 15 seconds. Masters gets on the apron to distract a Walker pin attempt, later trips up Walker suplexing Punk from the apron and Punk lands on top for the win.
From the same Emergence Night I show, we then get highlights of Homicide against A.J. Styles. Punk and Masters run in with a chair, Styles grabs it, the ref wakes up and disqualifies A.J. Homicide and Styles then double-team Masters after Punk high-tails it to the back.
Punk and Masters then cut a promo about how Punk will be the FIP champion after the next match, Masters and Homicide, where Masters is supposed to be a “road block” for Punk. Homicide wins after a top-rope Ace Crusher and then a clothesline. Punk hits the ring and brawls with Homicide.
Next is Punk, who gets heckled from ringside by a small boy in a hilarious spot, and Justin Credible, who talks before the match about the FIP title and the ECW title. This match is also in the FIP title tournament as part of the third night. Some slouch from ringside yells that Punk can’t handle hardcore. His heel tactics continue with Punk feigning a knee injury. Punk wins after a ropes-assisted rollup.
Punk and Rainman is next, but not before Punk goes on a tangent about Homicide being a thug and a drug dealer. Rainman isn’t quite Dustin Hoffman as he’s a tall, slender version of MVP, only a face. We’re now in the semifinals of the title tournament. Anyone wanna guess who wins it all? Punk beats Rainman with his feet on the ropes, jaws with some fans along the way and complains of Rainman pulling his tights a couple times. The more this DVD goes on, the better heel Punk is. It’s now Punk and Homicide in the finals.
Right after the Rainman match, Punk calls out Homicide and the finals are off and running, or are they? Masters jumps Homicide from behind and Rainman makes the save. Some fan calls Punk a “chicken b—-” as he jaunts to the back. Nice. His son must be proud.
The championship match gets underway on the floor with interference from Masters. These announcers aren’t half-bad either. In a superb finish, Homicide drills Punk with a lariat and wins FIP gold. Guess Punk wasn’t ready to be a champ yet, eh?
Azrieal is introduced as the newest member of The New Dawn by Punk, who says he’s going to beat Homicide so badly he’s going to end up in the hospital dying. Yow! Azrieal beats Rainman when Punk sweeps his feet and holds his leg down during a suplex. Yes, we saw this same finish earlier.
Punk pins Dan Moff, a personal friend of Homicide, in a no-countout, no-DQ match that sees Azrieal interfere and the match go to the parking lot where Punk gets an orange construction cone into his, ahem, junk. This is possibly an ROH match, too, but with an FIP backdrop. A low blow and feet on the ropes get the job done for Punk. In a cool spot in the match, Punk gets some powder or salt, Moff kicks it into Punk’s eyes, Punk piledrives Azrieal and Moff counts the pinfall and raises his hand. Great stuff. This match looks like it’s in a bowling alley bar.
Punk and Homicide in a Falls Count Anywhere FIP title match is next. Rainman and Azrieal join the fracas and the match winds up in a strip club at one point. Homicide retains after a parking lot piledriver and subsequent pin. Words cannot explain the strip club sequence. Trust me.
The Florida Rumble match from Dec. 17, 2004 is Chapter 12 on the DVD. This disc flies by and it’s true what they say about what happens when you’re having fun. James Gibson (Jamie Noble) starts out with Azrieal and Punk enters at No. 19 in what appears to be a Royal Rumble-type bout. Punk runs in and is low-bridged by Gibson. The winner and No. 1 contender for the FIP title? Spanky! For you new fans, Spanky is The Brian Kendrick. Duh.
Closing out this DVD is Punk and Gibson and it’s probably the best wrestling match (lots of it on the mat) on the compilation and we’re left to see that nowadays, Noble, here with his sweet General Lee orange “01” tights, is a glorified jobber and Punk is tasting World Heavyweight championship glory. Gibson, making his FIP debut, wins after a solid sequence of near-falls with a go-behind rollup. Awesome match.
A bonus section at the end of the DVD features matches that could have been shown on the main portion of the DVD, but getting to see these in full is indeed a bonus. It’s about 90 minutes of non-FIP Punk matches.
Punk takes on Roderick Strong in an ROH match and one of the broadcasters hypes ROH and says if Punk doesn’t win the ROH title before going to WWE, he could beat Triple H in the main event of WrestleMania in Chicago and it would eat at him that he didn’t win the ROH belt from Austin Aries. Really? Punk makes Strong tap to the Anaconda Vice.
Punk also battles Bryan Danielson in another ROH classic with Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat as special referee. This is great stuff, even if Steamboat tries to fast-count Punk at one point. Punk taps to an abdominal stretch. See? A good old-fashioned wrestling move wins the match. How cool is that?
Both bonus matches are well-done and that may be an understatement. They each go past 20 minutes to boot. A montage of Punk from IWA Mid-South is the last of the bonus material and even that is top-notch. He unleashes an expletive-laden tirade during one promo and faces Chris Hero in another match that looks like it’s in a church chapel. A tables and ladders match with Hero is also featured and yet another Hero match. That must have been some feud.
Punk looks so young (most of this stuff is from 2001 and 2002), but still great to see him during his earlier years. A three-way with unmasked Rey Misterio and Eddie Guerrero also gets some play time on the IWA section and this is the match Eddie wins the IWA Mid-South title from Punk, who wins it back in the next match. Some of the matches and highlights (including one against Colt “Scotty Goldman” Cabana) don’t have commentary, but that doesn’t matter. Highlights of a match with Christoper Daniels is also included as is a couple matches from Punk’s Second City Saints heyday. The IWA stuff ends in 2004 with, you guessed it, more matches with Hero and a couple from 2005 with Delirious.
A music video from the group Five Victims Four Graves ends the bonus section. This metal group provided music for the entire DVD and they kind of sound like Killswitch Engage, the band that does Punk’s WWE entrance music.
No Punk and Samoa Joe classics you ask? No problem. Big Vision gets it done again by profiling a star of today’s matches and promos of yesteryear, or in Punk’s case, just three short years ago. You can’t lose with this DVD, but you might by comparing WWE to these Punk matches. There is no comparison — the older stuff is MUCH better.
Back in the summer of 2006, Matt Mackinder and his family stood in line at Detroit Metro Airport next to CM Punk and Simon Dean. Matt didn’t mark out and simply nodded to the boys and got a nod back from Punk.