CM Punk: The Summer of Punk

Ring of Honor

ROHWrestling.com

$19.99

Reviewed by Joe Babinsack

 

Back to 2005, and a Ring of Honor fanbase first cheering him on to victory, and then quickly rabid to the possibility of CM Punk taking their prized Championship belt to the enemy.

Storylines like this one seemed doomed to the past.

What’s amazing in all of this is the backstory, the turns and twists and guest stars (Mick Foley!) that make every match more interesting, more meaningful, and shows that when booking rises to the challenge, professional wrestling can capture the best of the talent in the ring, and establish depth that goes beyond mere wins and losses – but more importantly captures the attention and emotion of the fans.

We begin this series with CM Punk vs Austin Aries.

CM PUNK VS AUSTIN ARIES

Today, it seems crazy , since Aries has that reputation as X Division Champion in TNA, but then, Aries was getting “go-away” heat from the crowd, and there’s nothing more amazing than the negativity on display as this match progresses.

This match alone is worth watching, out of the context of the storyline, with its swirling emotions, the expectations of great workrate, the crowd reactions and interactions.

But there’s six more matches, and no need to spell out the details of this one, because the result is pretty well known…. But you should stick around at the end, because Punk’s emotional victory response is great, but his post match promo and subsequent turn, throwing a chanting, jubilant crowd into a roaring mass of indignation with just a few words, a certain name, and a contract situation.

The promo, the responses, the appearances of Christopher Daniels, James Gibson and Samoa Joe all take this up to a level practically impossible in 2012, for various reasons that don’t need spelled out either.

When the dust settles, we now have CM Punk vs Jay Lethal for the belt. But the dust settling also involves establishing that Punk has the ROH crown, and he’s looking to take it to the WWE.

And perhaps the fans know that means burying the belt beyond dead, but the premise is interesting if not post-modern realistic.

The underlying theme of this commentary, based on the happenings in 2005, will focus on the seemingly lost concepts and opportunities that were still viable then, and should be now….. case in point? Here, we have Jay Lethal, as the protégé of Samoa Joe, playing the undercard babyface getting a great opportunity.

Lethal is positioned as the first of several who must try to stop Punk, because he is so hated, and because he’s threatening to take the most important thing that the company has, and in essence, throw it in a toilet.

And then Punk raises the stakes, stokes the fires and draws the ire of Mick Foley again. This sequence of mic-work, interactions and frenzy builds up the next match, but also builds it to another level.

CM Punk vs Roderick Strong pits the ROH Champion against a man well qualified to vie for the belt. Strong earned his due as Full Impact Pro Champion around this time. He would inevitably hold the ROH gold, but now he’s just the latest in line to wrest the belt from the hated holder of it. Will Punk Escape from New York?

We know that answer, but it was well fought.

Looking back, the rise of James Gibson from forgotten WWE talent to a man touted as the MVP of ROH, and he takes Punk to the limit.

Which sets up more interplay, more chase, and a fabulously hilarious take on TNA by the ROH faithful, as Christopher Daniels emerges as a man who may be able to derail the Punk express. With Allison Danger in tow, with the Fallen Angel gimmick in full play, Daniels’ Homecoming was another missed opportunity. And it was played up as perhaps the last.

The four way with CM Punk vs Samoa Joe vs James Gibson vs Christopher Daniels was elimination style, and it was all but spelled out that Punk could be eliminated, but if no one won the match in an hour, he could retain the title.

It seemed so plausible …. That ROH would stack the deck, but Punk could still outwit the promotion and walk away with the pride of the belt. At this point his stay in ROH seemed so overlong, yet so much hyped, and still so heated. However ROH worked this out with the WWE, it was well played. Each event was the last time Punk would appear, each event stoked the emotions of expectations… at some point Punk would just have to lose, the internet crowd, the smarks, the knowers of rumors knew.

Would this be the end?

This match, as each of the others, played out long, played out well fought, and played out to Punk’s benefit … it would seem.

So when James Gibson, bloodied, injured, but refusing to give in, came stumbling back to the ring after his other opponents fell, it seemed like all the emotion in the room, all the concern about the belt, all the played out roller coaster ride of a match, all the emotion of a Summer of Punk came to a head.

That was close to the forty minute mark, and that time call was telling.

We all know what happens, but how it happens still deserves a proper viewing.

2005…. The Summer of Punk, long ago but not forgotten.

CM PUNK-ROH CHAMPION BACK IN THE DAY

Your your copy of CM Punk: The Summer of Punk 2 disc set directly at ROHWrestling’s website by clicking here

Joe Babinsack can be reached at chaosonejoe@yahoo.com.